Maggie's Centre, Dundee

World architecture... what's happening generally....

Postby Hugh » Mon Dec 08, 2003 6:08 pm

Dundee Airport is great. Tiny, friendly, direct services to London etc.

It has a main road and a railway running right past it. But neither buses nor trains stop there. People I met in Dundee seemed not to find this surprising.

Seems pretty basic stuff.
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Postby alan d » Mon Dec 08, 2003 6:40 pm

Jings Hugh, is that where you've been Bloody Dundee? You've missed all the excitment. Dodgy Competition, Controversial winner, public disquiet, letters in the paper.

No not the Parliament, the bridge.

Thought the piece on Alison and Peter was very very good. "not the caning they deserve",eh? lol
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Postby Hugh » Mon Dec 08, 2003 7:15 pm

Thanks Alan. Commendably restrained, I feel.

The Smithsons deserve another thread, but I was enchanted to read about their Wiltshire house in the AJ (a boring timber box/towering work of timeless brilliance, delete according to prejudice) just done up by Sergison Bates.

Apparently it may (or may not) now be possible to keep books there for the first time ever.

Previously the place ran with condensation - when it wasn't dangerously hot.

A problem familiar to the occupants of others of their buildings. They seemed to lack basic competence, and moreover never learned from their previous errors. Who needs to, when you've got Reyner Banham on your side?

Thwack! Thwack! etc.

Dundee is the dullest, deadest UK city I have ever visited, with almost the worst public art. I admire Richard Murphy, but he and Gehry need a hell of a lot of help there.
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Postby FIN » Tue Dec 09, 2003 11:29 am

ahhh! i see i'm not the only one. BTH despite your best assertions that dundee is changing it still is a really drab and horrible horrible place. Hilltown improving!!! what have they moved the entire population out? lol. sorry i couldn't resist. i really do hope dundee is improving and i would love to go back to the union for cheap beer, and would love to see photo's. they really needed to do something about the docks alright. fair play to them. i will however say that if architecture on a public scale is not a commodity then what is it? otherwise we would have engineer's designing boxes. now what would u rather have...a gehry or an rtc??? it's not that it needs it to be succesful but it sure helps to raise the stature of a city. if u were a ceo of a large company what would attract u to a regional city like dundee??? if you raise the profile then it becomes slightly more attractive. don't get me wrong there are many talented architects around but would they have the courage or even the necessary pull to get such a scheme through planning? a big name architect with such ideas of what architecture means to them can. and why not? it seems to me there is not enough of this type of architecture about...by this i mean brave/different. well ok in ireland definately. it is ruled by the developer/money men who couldn't give a crap what it looks like(in general) but squeeze as much into as little space as possible and just get a roof on. there are exceptions but this rare breed i have to meet yet.
ahhhh! i'm tired of thinking, it's tuesday morning and i have had only 1 coffee.

this site beside the contemporary arts building. where is that?
also i am sure they have brought u to see the disabled building just up the road from the college. it's hidden away but i always had a liking for that little thing.

and hugh, forgive me if i am wrong but i think there is bugger all parking at the airport as well. but i suppose it's only half an hour walk from the city so why would u need a bus!!!! lol.
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Postby Hugh » Tue Dec 09, 2003 12:05 pm

Have to say that the urban rescue plan outlined by BTH is exactly what's needed to put right some of the mistakes of the past, particularly the cutting-off of the city centre from the water.

As he says, now what's needed is the architectural ambition. But maybe this should not be in the form of more signature buildings being parachuted in, but a more modest and considered urbanism, allowing the city to recolonise the lost areas.
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Postby FIN » Tue Dec 09, 2003 12:16 pm

possibly..but how? to re-colonise would be to build replicas of what is existing but this is what made it the unfortunate sight that it is. now i agree that too many signature buildings would be detremental and espically in the one place but scattered around...mind u this would take some thought by the urban planners.....hmmmmm! i don't know about that..
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Postby Hugh » Tue Dec 09, 2003 3:06 pm

don't follow your logic. Why does urban recolonisation of lost space necessarily involve "replicas of what is existing"? There is no good reason why it should.

A lost street pattern might usefully be replicated if it was any good, but that does not mean photocopy architecture should be built on it.
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Postby FIN » Tue Dec 09, 2003 4:53 pm

[quote]Originally posted by Hugh
But maybe this should not be in the form of more signature buildings being parachuted in, but a more modest and considered urbanism, allowing the city to recolonise the lost areas. "


re-colonisation suggests replication to me. and i agree with you, there is no reason for it. if you mean that taking back brownfield site and putting up modern arch. then all for it as it is well needed.
also considered urbanism. consideration to whom? scale wise i agree. it has to relate to the average joe that will be using it but contextually we are back into replication which i have seen happen and can look terrible. as there is ( in the case of dundee) a road in between the city centre and the tay there are options to build some modern comtemporary architecture with then pedestrian links to where the wellgate shopping centre is. i think bth was suggesting that the road may be realigned but no matter, there is enough space for it not to matter. the problem with this sort of regeneration of city centres is that it shift's the cbd to the new buildings which may lead to the degradation of the older section. to successful marry the two would require a significant amount of co-operation and give and take between different agencies. this is if that is the way the city wishes to proceed. other wise create "landmark" (horrible term) buildings and lots of open spaces (so as not to shift the cbd) and have it partially recreational and partially built up. this would mean that gehry like buildings galore. personally i believe this to be te best option.
i have no idea if this answers the wuestions as i have forgotten it...will have to wait until i go back into main thread to see.
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Postby space_invader » Tue Dec 09, 2003 7:03 pm

Hugh - harsh words concerning Dundee.

From dealings I have had with architects currently working there, I have heard the city's council are considerably more progressive than it's Glasgow equivalent.

Also, hate to be a bore, but it's print and digital and bioscience research industries make it actually quite interesting.

The good architecture will necessarily follow.

look out for a revamped civic square in the near future. I have a feeling it will be very, very good.
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Postby BTH » Tue Dec 09, 2003 9:30 pm

Yes Hugh, I'm disappointed that you could be so dismissive! You focus on the fact it has some of the worst public art in Britain? Does this automatically make it "the dullest, deadest city in the UK"?? It's this kind of prejudice and glib generalisation that Dundee will rise above in the near future, through the efforts of the City Council in particular, but also through its Universities and their plans to create a better urban environment to match the quality of research and graduates they are turning out. Perhaps you should dig a little deeper before you condemn an entire city and it's people...
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Postby Hugh » Wed Dec 10, 2003 1:24 pm

I did not say it was dull and dead BECAUSE OF the public art. I said it was dull and dead AND it had almost the worst public art in the UK. There's a difference.

Nor did I say anything about the people, just the townscape. Hardly saw any people in the centre anyway, so deserted was it.

But as I said above, the rescue plans outlined by BTH look promising. Obviously you acknowledge there is a problem, BTH, otherwise you would not champion such a solution, hein?
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Postby BTH » Wed Dec 10, 2003 1:50 pm

Forgive me if I seem pedantic but I'd usually expect so see some reasoning behind a statement like "Dundee is the dullest, deadest UK city I have ever visited", so sweeping and damning as it is... What exactly is it you don't like about the place, other than it's public art (the only element you mention). For want of further explanation I'll assume that your view is a kneejerk reaction to one, possibly two visits to the city - probably a dull, rainy afternoon, midweek, scurrying from the train to whatever engagement you had and back again. I'd like to think that you had time to explore the entire city, its universities and surrounds but somehow I don't think you did... That is the assumption I'll make until I'm told differently.

And by claiming that dundee is "dead" you also implicate it's people, suggesting some lack of energy, forward thinking or movement. The truth is that Dundee has more life about it than many places I've been in Scotland and further afield with more dynamism than cities that are much bigger and have more wealth.

I'll concede that Dundee needs further development and change, but only to consolidate the advances that have already been made, not as some sort of alternative to what's already there. It's not a "rescue plan" or a "solution" - as Dundee is one place that has already rescued itself from the problems it faced ten or fifteen years ago. It's the nescessary and logical expansion of a city that is on the up.
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Postby FIN » Wed Dec 10, 2003 2:03 pm

"Forgive me if I seem pedantic but I'd usually expect so see some reasoning behind a statement like "Dundee is the dullest, deadest UK city I have ever visited",
For want of further explanation I'll assume that your view is a kneejerk reaction to one, possibly two visits to the city - probably a dull, rainy afternoon, midweek, scurrying from the train to whatever engagement you had and back again. I'd like to think that you had time to explore the entire city, its universities and surrounds but somehow I don't think you did..."

i agree with hugh on this point execpt maybe not the dullest in the uk. there are worse places. but dundee doesn't have much to offer exept the uni's.

"And by claiming that dundee is "dead" you also implicate it's people, suggesting some lack of energy, forward thinking or movement. The truth is that Dundee has more life about it than many places I've been in Scotland and further afield with more dynamism than cities that are much bigger and have more wealth."

i definately think that your defence is admirable but unfounded. the place is rife with unemployment and poverty. it was scotlands drug's capital a few years ago which is an amazing feat with edinburgh down the road which i suggest u visit to see real life.

"I'll concede that Dundee needs further development and change, but only to consolidate the advances that have already been made, not as some sort of alternative to what's already there. It's not a "rescue plan" or a "solution" - as Dundee is one place that has already rescued itself from the problems it faced ten or fifteen years ago. It's the nescessary and logical expansion of a city that is on the up. "

i agree with you on this. it does need more work but at least it has started.
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Postby Hugh » Wed Dec 10, 2003 2:13 pm

You haven't answered my question BTH. There must be a problem, otherwise you would not put forward a very comprehensive townscape solution. Yes?

If however there is no problem, and Dundee is a charming well-designed place full of happy, fulfilled people, then presumably no such drastic solution is required. So why do you offer one?
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Postby space_invader » Wed Dec 10, 2003 2:40 pm

Hugh, of course there is a problem.

But it's not one that can be resolved by architectural solutions alone. Dundee's social and economic history have left it flailing in the new commerical environment (much like Glasgow really) and as a result, there is a bottleneck of societal problems clogging up its social psyche and infrastructure. A start has been made to address some of the planning and building errors of the past 70 years or so and you may be surprised to learn of the wider impact places like the DCA has made to Scotland. People from all over the country now travel to Dundee to see exhibitions there and take in the other sights the city has to offer; exposure induces change – we shall all see.

BTW, I’m not particularly fond of the city myself (although I did have a soft spot for Dundee United’s majestic European performances of the mid eighties) but I think there is enough existing quality in individual buildings and in the dense urban form in parts which elevate the place out of the lower leagues you’ve dumped it in.

Anyway, forget Murphy and especially forget Gehry (any value he will bring can be safely ‘reduced’ to marketing brochures – "Gehry’s only UK commission blah blah blah), have you heard of Nicoll Russel Studios? Great local practice who have designed a truly holistic building which put’s Gehry’s hobbit-hole to shame. It’s called the White Top Centre and caters for adults with profound disabilities, providing day-care and limited respite facilities.

As their own website says, "the centre has integrated garden elements both in its landscaping and internally. The entrance is via a bridge over a waterfall and the building has a courtyard garden at its heart".

It’s worth checking out.
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Postby FIN » Wed Dec 10, 2003 2:46 pm

white top centre...that's what i was talking about earlir...thank u. lovely little building.
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Postby Hugh » Wed Dec 10, 2003 2:48 pm

Agree about Nicol Russell. They're good.
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Postby BTH » Wed Dec 10, 2003 4:05 pm

Hugh: "You haven't answered my question BTH. There must be a problem, otherwise you would not put forward a very comprehensive townscape solution. Yes?"

Answer: "It's the nescessary and logical expansion of a city that is on the up."

What I described earlier is an actual project that will be taking place in the near future, not some pie in the sky idea or proposal. The scheme does not affect the existing central area besides re-introducing the element of water to the old quaysides that was taken away during the reclaimation works in the 60's. The rest will be completely new areas for Dundee, filling the void left by the ring road, flyovers and obsolete object buildings. I can't see how these problems are any more dramatic than say the St James' Centre in Edinburgh or the M8 tearing through the Kings Cross area of Glasgow. Do these elements warrant condemning those cities? Mistakes were made everywhere in the UK due to bad planning. Maybe Dundee got hit more severely than some other towns... But I think the fact that something is actually being done about it says something about the city and it's attitudes and makes a nonsense of the claims that it is a "dead" place.
Dundee is far from being perfect and yes it still has above average unemployment and deprivation. Its not the only city in Scotland, or the UK, with such problems and it's working hard to solve them. To be honest I really used to hate the place myself (my description used to be shit-hole!) until I got to know some of the locals and saw first-hand what "real" life in Dundee is like. Since then my liking for the place, and I suppose a bit of pride in it, have grown steadily. I guess I just bristle a bit at the fact that so often Dundee is dismissed out of hand as some sort of lost cause when it's clear to anyone here that it's a city looking towards the future and actually getting there as well! So I hope I don't come across as being irrational in my defence of the place.
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Postby FIN » Wed Dec 10, 2003 4:28 pm

BTH i don't think u are irrational at all. It is never irrational to defend a cause u believe in. it however in years behind both edinburgh and glasgow in rejuvenation. this does not mean it won't get there and that the quality of the city isn't improving. i would be glad if it did. but in it's current state it still has quite a bad image. it is good to see that the council is willing to turn around what used to be basically a no-hoper city.
this actually plan for the docklands, is there designs or is there just a masterplan with the view to selling to developers and let them at it? any chance of a view to what the masterplan is?
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Postby space_invader » Wed Dec 10, 2003 5:08 pm

don't be fooled about urban regeneration in Glasgow - just because they are billions pouring into the city's construction industry and loads of structures flying up the truth is that very few of them are actually any good.

And the sad truth is that most regeneration in Glasgow is still driven by the development of shopping zones, which remain very badly planned and built.

The west is soon to be home to a shoppertainment town in Ravenscraig (shopertainment is mall+multiplex+indoor ski-slope+fast food), a 'golden mile' of retail hell at 'Glasgow Fort' in the city's east end, an extended Braehead ooty-toon shopping centre, and a matching scheme on the opposite clyde bank at yoker. And just for good measure, we're dropping something similar on to the shore of Loch Lomond too.

The city centre is still almost entirely devoid of green space or anything that could be considered contemplative and the council is suckered by style bar culture and call centre operations.

But........

our galleries are still free.
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maggies

Postby proun » Wed Jan 14, 2004 11:10 am

I visited the building for the first time having expressed concerns re the proportions, I was told I'd change my mind, sorry, it still seems unproportioned esp to the north - a schizophrenic facade with plodding base against a dynamic mini-bilbao roof - and the forms seem rooted in cliche.

Plenty of images at http://www.edinburgharchitecture.co.uk/maggiescentre_dundee_gehry.htm if you want to get a better idea.
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Postby alan d » Wed Jan 14, 2004 11:25 am

That's fucked up this years token Scottish project on the Stirling prize shortlist then.
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Postby alan d » Wed Jan 14, 2004 11:28 am

" forms seemed rooted to the cliche" eh?

...............or maybe not
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Postby proun » Wed Jan 14, 2004 4:05 pm

I'm sure Scotland can come up with something more wholesome.

Bilbao seems poetic by comparison, unhindered by 'broch' tower and disconnected base, its a gesamtkunstwerk, maybe not great for displaying all the art but works consistently. The worst photos are not online yet, toying with leaving them off, but the building is joyful from below, the car park view and entry facades plod because the ground plane is flat, and the roof has no dialogue with the bowing white base.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Jan 14, 2004 4:17 pm

When I look at it again, I still don't like it (see page one of thread for my original comment) and I now think the 'tower' looks awkward.
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