Aberdeen City Garden Project Lecture

Have just arrived home after attending a lecture from the team of Diller Scofidio + Renfro − working with Keppie Design and OLIN who won the international design competition to transform Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens located right in the heart of the city centre.

The lecture was held in ABS 225, a lecture theatre with a capacity for some 300 people, which was filled to about 90/95% capacity, at the Garthdee campus of Robert Gordon University. The talk was scheduled to begin at 17:30 and commenced shortly thereafter, continuing on until 19:15 including 10/15 minutes for questions & answers.

The majority of the lecture looked at previous projects of the main design team from sites in New York and Switzerland to Boston. Towards the end of the talk the focus turned to the Aberdeen City Garden Project and short walk-through video was presented that will be made available online as and from tomorrow. Much of the content of the video is similar to that available in the downloads section of the City Garden website, with the addition of some extra visuals and a voiceover. The video below is the “older” version that doesn’t include the additional content and voice over that was presented at the lecture, but still gives some sense of the project.

The New York Project titled “high line” came with the remit of revitalising an old elevated railway line that had been disused for several decades. Probably the best way to get a sense of this project is to take a look at the video gallery. One can see that the line had become quite overgrown with natural vegetation over the past decades & this was a theme which the designers wanted to hold on to by creating a planked system of walkways allowing for “cracks” to come through allowing nature to be interspersed with the promenade. The project also “framed” many parts of the city in a new light creating interesting visuals throughout the entirety of the line. It is planted in such a way that there is always something in bloom ten months of the year, and yet even in the height of winter there is still interesting planting and textures to be seen. The style of planting also changes continually along the line, hence with the ever-changing seasons there is always something new to be seen. This new amenity has become an extremely popular and important part of New York that took something old, and generally unwanted and turned it into to an amenity for both residents and visitors alike.

The Blur Building in Switzerland was designed for the Swiss Expo 2002. The building was situated on a lake and surrounded in an artificial fog created by 13,000 fog nozzles. Visitors had to really make use of their senses to experience something that one could really just get glimpses of through the fog. The completed work looked like a cloud just floating above the lake. One can see a walkthrough of the blur concept on youtube below.

The ICA project in Boston was situated right at the water’s edge. The design allows for passers-by to take part and see what is happening inside as the building was seamlessly integrated with the city public HarborWalk. One of its many interesting features in a multimedia room, this is situated in a downwards angle overlooking the water framing it in such a way that neither horizon or sky can be seen. A video of the ICA can be seen below.

Another example of their work is the Museum of Image and Sound (MIS) located right on the edge of Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro. This again very much takes its concept from the surrounding area and incorporates it into the design of the building allowing people to publicly visit the building and see what is going on inside without actually entering it, this is achieved by a series of walkways that lead up through several levels to the roof level viewing area and outdoor cinema.

Another fun and interesting feature mentioned during the lecture was a temporary installation in liverpool. One can see a video below. It made use of turntables to create a new and ever-changing feature to a grove of trees.

The few projects above just give an idea of the portfolio from this design team, several other works were also mentioned during the lecture including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

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