Phoenix Flowers by RankinFraser and 7N Architects
Project Title: Phoenix Flowers, Garscube Landscape Link
Location: Garscube Road/ M8 Flyover, Glasgow, Scotland
Construction start date: 21st September 2009
Completion date: 28th June 2010
The first phase of the regeneration of the Speirs Locks area in Glasgow has been completed with the opening of the Garscube Link, a new public realm intervention which re-connects North Glasgow back to the city centre for pedestrians and cyclists.
The project was designed by 7N Architects and RankinFraser Landscape Architecture for the Glasgow Canal Regeneration Partnership (GCRP), a partnership between Glasgow City Council and ISIS Waterside Regeneration, supported by British Waterways Scotland.
The project has involved the radical revitalisation of this crucial link between the canal network and Glasgow’s City Centre which was severed by the construction of the M8 motorway in the 1960s. The project is the first stage of the regeneration of Speirs Locks transforming its primary interface to the city centre from an inhospitable barrier to one which will be a positive threshold to the wider area.
The Garscube Link has been christened “The Phoenix Flowers”, a reference to the former Phoenix Park which once occupied the site before the construction of the motorway.
Speirs Locks covers 14 hectares of low grade industrial, derelict land by the Forth and Clyde canal to the north of Glasgow City Centre. Historically, the area was a thriving trading centre but fell into decline with the increasing obsolescence of the canal. This was accelerated in the 1960’s when the elevated M8 motorway sliced through its links to the City Centre, leaving a solitary underpass connection. Improving the severed connections to the City Centre – healing the scar of the M8, is the first in a series of public realm initiatives that are being implemented as part of the wider regeneration strategy for the area.
This new link is the gateway point, the pedestrian threshold connecting a large area of North Glasgow back to the City Centre. The existing route was an extraordinarily hostile environment: dark, dirty, noisy, and intimidating.
The new public realm is significantly wider that the previous underpass, transforming it into a single, flowing, red resin surface that doesn’t constrain those using it to a single, confrontational, route. It is illuminated by a ribbon of 50 coloured aluminium “flowers”, fluttering through the space 8m up in the air, that draw the visitor through the route in deliberate contrast to the solidity of the concrete, evoking a memory of Phoenix Park that once occupied the site. This revitalised threshold to the city centre connects to a new landscape link, currently on site, that weaves its way up from the underpass to the canal basin at the top of the hill.
The underpass is the first phase of a regeneration framework for the Speirs Locks area, developed by 7N Architects and RankinFraser Landscape Architecture. The framework is focused on a regeneration strategy entitled “Growing The Place” which seeks to transform negative perceptions of the area by cultivating a set of physical and economic circumstances which encourage colonisation by creative groups which will, in turn, drive the regeneration of the wider area.
This process is already well underway with organisations like the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD), The National Theatre of Scotland (NTS) joining Scottish Opera at Speirs Locks which is helping the area evolve as Scotland’s centre for creative industries over the next 15 years.
Photography by Dave Morris