Imagine a City
Public spaces have played a major role in the development of democracy, serving as places where anyone, regardless of income or position, could meet, discuss, demonstrate and publicise their unique causes. However, the extent to which these spaces are disappearing due to neoliberal culture and the effect this has on civic life demands attention.
Glasgow’s current response to the issue of public space is either through mobility-centric street culture sponsored by retail on both sides, or monumental enclosed structures where the spaces become arguably not public at all. Public spaces that give everyone an equal right to be there are extremely limited, and the current pandemic has shed light on the importance of their existence. Inequalities in indoor living spaces have revealed the extent to which people are reliant upon inclusive public spaces, especially as escape for what could be a challenging home environment.
The key objective of this thesis is to offer up an urban environment that holds the following to be self evident : “All people have the right to access all spaces at all time”. The delicate boundary between private and public is studied, protecting the inclusiveness of public spaces to foster tolerance, conviviality and dialogue. Derived building landscape aims to stimulate and frame vibrant public life between buildings – on streets, sidewalks, squares and covered public areas – though the means of adjacent, small-scale enterprises and residential units. Such landscape is suggested to be applicable universally, with consideration to context adjustments.
The chosen site is located centrally in the area of a ripped away railway infrastructure, St Enoch Station. The shopping center, which currently marks the termination of Buchanan Street, cuts off the urban fabric by its large privatized nature and alienating response to democratised territory. This proposal seeks to reconnect pre-established pedestrian nodes with historic origins of Glasgow and its river front, introducing two levels of open circulation that will permeate the site from multiple directions. These paths will provide a larger footprint for public participation, in an attempt to re-connect fragmented urban areas of Glasgow. The shopping mall is suggested to be reconfigured into a public market, and a newly designed city quarter is to be established as a series of courtyards on the adjacent car park. The scheme aims to explore themes of permeability, public involvement, community prosperity and adaptability to change, to provide a true public space reactive to current societal needs. The self-built construction methods encourage every citizen to participate in the creation of market or residential units. This permits the adjacent architecture to be more democratic in nature and the ownership of area more uncertain, so that individuals feel comfortable in crossing these undefined thresholds. The resulting infrastructure enables urban spaces to be formed, architecture to be expanded and pedestrian flows to be directed.