Kevin Murray Associates were commissioned by Scottish Canals and their partners to facilitate the Applecross-Firhill-Hamiltonhill-Woodside Charrette, or as it came to be known, “What Floats Your Boat?” Charrette. We worked alongside the charrette design team of LUC, LDN architects, AECOM and Envirocentre to programme a charrette event that took in a wide area around the canal corridor with multiple, distinct communities in the area.
The charrette ran from 4 – 7 February and was primarily located in Partick Thistle Football Club’s Aitken Suite, with a satellite event held in ng Homes new base in Possilpark. The charrette explored the area on foot at the outset, highlighting some of the opportunities in the area, and the unique feature of the expansive greenspace in close proximity to the city centre. Participants worked on future scenarios and special site studies. Strengthening the communities in the area by providing better connections to and across the canal was a strong theme that was looked at on the second day of the charrette during the technical session, alongside other issues such as flooding, housing and movement.
The themes that emerged from the first two days acted as the brief for the design team to draw up material on the third day, while community engagement work was ongoing. The themes were:
Activity – to improve health through exercise and active lifestyles; sport, play and leisure; and art and culture production and consumption.
Movement and access – a bridge crossing to reconnect Hamiltonhill; formalize desire lines; and adopt a people-first approach to the road and movement network.
Greenspace – protect and enhance the Claypits as an important community green area; and green networks that not only join up greenspaces, but influence the character of urban areas too.
Development – housing with a truly mixed tenure and typology on Hamiltonhill; mixed use sites on Trossach Street and Baird Brae; a redeveloped Firhill Stadium giving a street front to Firhill Road; and creating a focus for the area with arts-led development at Applecross Basin.
Other big themes that ran through the charrette were health and community participation. One of the aims of the charrette was to start to shift how local people view the canal corridor and encourage them to see it as an asset in the area that could help people adopt healthier lifestyles. To this end, Matt Baker was commissioned to run an art programme that engaged people in the area and helped them to begin to imagine what the canal could be like in the future. This programme ran street events, schools events and culminated in an arts event after the close of the charrette exhibition on the Saturday beside Firhill Basin. This was a really successful close to the event, bringing life and vibrancy to the canalside on a frozen February morning, giving a powerful demonstration of the animated canal that many participants envisaged during the charrette.
Images and video from the charrette are up on the Scottish Canals website: http://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/property–regeneration/projects-/glasgow/applecross-firhill-and-hamiltonhill-charette