In what seems like the blink of an eye, LDA Design’s Glasgow studio has turned 10.
To mark this special moment, LDA Design Chair Frazer Osment said: “So much has been achieved since LDA Design was first welcomed into this incredible city, with the team now leading some of the most significant city transformation projects across Scotland.
“The Glasgow studio live LDA’s values and are moving the built environment agenda forward in key areas such as inclusion, equity, and accessibility. They have made a fundamental contribution to our journey to employee ownership and the quality of our design thinking, exemplifying the creative and entrepreneurial business we strive to be. I would personally like to thank them for all that they bring, and the many ambitious moves that I know are coming.”
There are many high points to celebrate. The studio has had a key role in creating visions for the cities of Aberdeen and Dundee, and are responsible for projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh and Aberdeen that are cornerstones of wider urban transformation. The studio, now 15-strong, has also helped to power Scotland’s renewable energy drive through planning approvals for wind farms including Kype Muir and Dungavel.
The team’s masterplan is being realised for a new Sighthill that is well-connected to Glasgow city centre with active travel. Sighthill is Scotland’s largest estate regeneration and there will be 850 new homes, catered for through a mix of parkland, educational, community and retail facilities. It signals the shift to the positive outcomes from leading with the landscape, an approach designed to meet the needs of the people who live there.
Isolated and marred by its industrial past, Sighthill’s open spaces had become of concern and better quality and better access to green space topped resident wish lists. So, Sighthill has been restructured around a linear park with lochans, burns and wetlands, providing flood protection and enhanced biodiversity. There are allotments, play and recreation and 48 hectares of new green spaces with thousands of new trees, plants and bulbs. It features the first newly adopted public park for over twenty years in a city known as Dear Green Place for its passionate advocacy of green space.
The masterplan also connects to Europe’s first ‘smart canal’, which uses the latest technology to reduce the water level ahead of heavy rainfall to increase capacity, channelling the water into SuDS. Canalside terraces make for a lovely place to sit and stare. A new walking and cycling bridge over the M8 motorway ensures access is made easy.
In Edinburgh, LDA Design has been instrumental in proposals to rethink historic George Street so that cars no longer dominate the space. Wider pavements will allow for café spill out and there will be a new cycling thoroughfare, as well as comfortable places to sit along the street. Retaining symmetry and removing street clutter alongside urban greening means the design both protects the area’s heritage and supports local biodiversity. The impact of heavy rainfall will be reduced through sustainable management of surface water.
The Glasgow studio is also responsible for one of the UK’s most important park restorations in recent years. Union Terrace Gardens in the centre of Aberdeen was known for attracting anti-social behaviour and is now an all-year-round destination following a £28m refurbishment. The Victorian grandeur of these former ‘bleaching greens’ is visible again, and the Gardens have been made accessible. Three new pavilions designed to house cafes, restaurants and arts and culture, will ensure the space is activated from day through to evening. It’s a restoration triumph which gives the Granite City a heart that beats.
Other significant new projects for the studio include a collaboration with Foster + Partners and Michael Laird Architects to transform Buchanan Galleries, a large, single-use retail complex in the centre of Glasgow into a lively, mixed-use neighbourhood. The proposal, which has gone in for planning, will draw life back to the ‘Golden Z’ of Glasgow’s three main shopping streets: Buchanan, Sauchiehall and Argyle. There will be greener, more inclusive public spaces, better active travel options and improved access to transport.
So, heading to Glasgow really was the start of something. Time to draw a breath, to thank the amazing clients the Glasgow studio has partnered with along the way, to celebrate great work and to raise a glass to an inspiring and talented team helping to create great places for Scotland and for towns and cities around the UK.