Using the brief as a starting point for discussion and a spark for creativity the team collaborated with a 'design outsider' - an NGO volunteer and former exchange student at the University of Dundee. The goal was to reimagine the Dundee waterfront by enhancing connectivity to the rest of Dundee city centre.
Dundee Waterfront, Dundee, Scotland
May 2021
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'A Garden for the City' reimagines the connection between the Dundee waterfront and city centre as a gathering place and destination. For this Two Day Design we began with a livestream where we unpacked the evolving nature of the Dundee Waterfront. Using dialogue as a tool for learning, we reflected on our personal experiences living and studying in Dundee across many years. We recognize that - like any place - the waterfront has been a place in transition and continues to undergo many changes. 

Unlike our first Two Day Design which was detached from a specific time or place, "A Garden for the City" is set in the context of Dundee. This adds a layer of complexity to the design process. For one, this means the local ‘place’ is embedded in a complex historic, environmental, cultural and political context. We recognize what can and cannot be unpacked in this short format and see the masterplan for this area as an evolving document. 

During the Two Day Design process we critically reflect on the challenges, strengths and opportunities of the waterfront area. We recognize that our lived experiences, living and studying in Dundee are important sources for reflection and learning. We hope these conversations can contribute to an ongoing conversation on the future of the Dundee Waterfront.

Architect of the Victoria and Albert Museum (see Figure 1), Kengo Kuma described the building as "a living room for the city". The route to the museum from the city centre, however, poses a challenge for both residents and visitors. The main threats in this area are the wide roads and long wait times at the pedestrian crossings. The proposal focuses on two areas that reflect two different approaches.

An array of temporary and permanent interventions are proposed to enhance the pedestrian experience. These include: taming vehicle traffic by reducing speed limits, the addition of artistic zebra crossings and lengthened crossing timers. Changes also include, trees and planting, additional benches for residents to linger, a pop-up cafe, public art throughout, and a hydroponic living wall on the train station exterior that adds to the visual experience. Collectively these changes enhance the pedestrian experience creating an inviting corridor connecting the landmark building, the Victoria and Albert Museum to Union Street and beyond.

Figure 1: Collage reimaging the route from the Victoria & Albert Museum to Union Street.

Additionally, a 'suspended garden' is proposed to cover parts of the existing roadway to the North of Slessor Gardens (Figure 2).This element is borne from the idea of trying to make pedestrian access to the waterfront an easier and a more pleasant experience for all. The purpose of this space is to be multifunctional by nature, it can be used in the daytime as an above ground market, harking back to the markets that were held underneath City Square. In the evenings or for special events, it can be transformed into a stage for performances to crowds in Slessor Gardens. This space pays homage to the design of the Canary Wharf Crossrail Station by Foster & Partners, employing ETFE plastic cushions, filled with air and lighter than glass.

Figure 2: Isometric drawing of the public spine with suspended garden proposal.
Figure 3: Exploded isometric drawing of suspended garden proposal.

Combined, this proposal recognizes that a design-led approach alone is not sufficient to ensure this area connects with the rest of the city centre. However, we believe this proposal is a strong starting point discussion. The proposal re-evaluates current priorities and identifies the potential of these places as a driver of economic, social and environmental benefits for citizens and visitors. These proposals and principles could be implemented in locations with similar conditions.

You can view the process through our 2 Day Design series. We began this project differently. In a livestream in collaboration with the University of Dundee, we showed high school students how we would reimagine the Dundee waterfront. 

Following this LIVESTREAM, we continued to develope our ideas. In Part One, the team - including 'Design Outsider' Kirsten (experience as an NGO volunteer and former University of Dundee exchange student) tackle a design challenge using a brief as the starting point for discussion and a spark for creativity.

In Part Two, the team reflects on the initial contributions of the Design Outsider, and continues to reimagine the Dundee waterfront.

In Part Three, the team reveals the design to the Design Outsider. Following the reveal, we discuss opportunities that could enhance the design, and reflect on the 2 Day Design process.


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