Dear, green places: The regeneration of the Clyde waterfront in Glasgow

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Glasgow is recognised for its expansive green spaces, with over 90 public parks throughout the city. The name Glasgow actually derives from the Gaelic word ‘Ghlaschu’, meaning “dear, green place”. So, in light of the current regeneration of the Glasgow Clydeside, what efforts are being made to ensure that Glasgow does not betray its leafy, green heritage for the sake of modern buildings and contemporary streetscapes?

The Glasgow Clydeside has changed dramatically over the past fifty years or so. Once lined with shipping sheds and frequented by paddle steamers, Broomielaw in the heart of the city is now home to Glasgow’s International Financial Services District (IFSD), where the still expanse of the River Clyde is reflected in the glass and steel of modern buildings.

Broomielaw, Glasgow

The £7.76 million Broomielaw public realm regeneration project, completed in 2006, uses high-quality granite and Italian porphyry paving, as well as bespoke stainless steel street furniture and feature lighting, to reflect the cotemporary aesthetic of the newly built IFSD buildings. Cyclepaths, walkways and public art were also integrated into this space to enhance its usability, and 400m sheet piled quay wall was stabilised for better flood protection.

Broomielaw Public Realm

Three years on, the £6 million Squiggly-Bridge was constructed to connect the Broomielaw public realm and the Tradeston public realm (which was completed at the end of 2009). The wave-shaped bridge facilitates new means of access to the IFSD from accross the river, and provides opportunities for people to sit and observe the hustle and bustle of the city by the eerily quiet banks of the River Clyde. The contemporary aesthetic of these public spaces is dabbled with greenery: rectangular grassed areas and well pruned trees have a contemporary edge to mirror their surroundings.

The £1.2 billion Glasgow Harbour regeneration project due for completion in 2015 sees various improvements along the North bank of the river. In addition to new residential, commercial and infrastructure developments, the area has around 50 acres of public space and 3km of riverside walkway. The regeneration of this brownfield site “has hugely beneficial economic, tourist and social implications for both Glasgow and Scotland as a whole”, which is highlighted with the opening of another iconic Clydeside structure, the Riverside Museum: Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel, designed by internationally renowned architect Zaha Hadid.

Riverside Museum, Glasgow

The Clyde Waterfront Green Network promotes green space along the River Clyde to allow natural habitats and wildlife to flourish and to promote wellbeing; it is an intrinsic element of the regeneration as a whole. Future projects include the improvement of the Clydeside Community Park, an isolated and underused green space, as well as the New Gorbals Riverside project, which will see street tree planting to link green spaces, as well as softer landscaping and better viewing platforms over the river.

So, while the high-quality natural stone walkways, stainless steel balustrades, bespoke street furniture collections, and shiny glass building facades mark the birth of a new future-proof Glasgow, the ‘dear green place’ that we know and love still lives on.

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