Glasgow’s City Centre has the majority of its area devoted to roads and parking. In order to prioritise social and spatial justice, Glasgow needs to manage its walkability, safety, sustainability and quality of public spaces and places. This is how the city will be able to tackle current challenges, as well as creating robust infrastructures which allow flexibility for future needs and uses.
The lack of quantity and quality of public spaces across the stretch in study creates a hostile place to be. The traffic of motor-vehicles dominates the surrounding areas, leaving pedestrians to dark underpasses or bridges, neither being DDA accessible. In order to enhance quality of life and attractiveness, Glasgow needs to promote healthy lifestyles through its surroundings. The control over noise and air pollution is also essential to create welcoming and pleasant spaces for people. Increasing the amount of open green spaces which also work as connectors between neighbourhoods could transform the city boundaries and shadows from hard & dead, to soft & vibrant places.
Could the activation of the M8 Motorway corridor in Glasgow resolve its unjust, segregated and car-dominated city fabric?This is the current thesis aim when activating the West M8 motorway corridor in Glasgow.
‘Edges’, through the knowledge from Kevin Lynch (1960), this author understands the M8 corridor as the fragmented edge of Glasgow, segregating and isolating neighbourhoods and uses. Therefore, when ‘activating edges’, new purposes and uses are introduced to the M8 corridor, ‘stitching’ the urban fabric and aiming to transform it into a uniting seam.
‘Shadows’, in this context, being the forgotten undercroft spaces from the M8 corridor, having the understanding of the great spatial qualities inherent to these spaces with the intention of also integrating them back to the urban fabric.
The research for this design project includes three main methods: expanding knowledge through key literature; analysing case studies; and utilising methods of engagement with citizens from the areas adjacent to the M8 corridor.
Important concepts from Henri Lefebvre (1971), Edward Soja (2010), David Harvey (2012), Richard Sennett (2006), Christopher Alexander (1977), Jane Jacobs (1961), Jan Gehl (2010) and Kevin Lynch (1960) have been noted. The case studies selected have similar physical settings to the current proposed site, which means, case studies of car-dominated barriers between neighbourhoods or between city and river. Lastly, a community engagement study gathering public opinion over urban settings was undertaken in Anderston, one of the neighbourhoods next to the M8 corridor. This study was made in partnership with the community centre ‘The Pyramid’ based in the same neighbourhood. This study utilised of an online map of the neighbourhood, where citizens could add comments at locations which they felt needed improvement. The project created by the Glasgow City Council called ‘Connecting Woodside’ was used as a key reference.
As a result of this investigation, this research found how important open spaces are to deliver greater justice within urban environments and how the human dimension should be a priority when coming to urban design. It also found how adaptability, flexibility in program, relationship to its surroundings and placing essential amenities are important to deliver density, and therefore diversity to the chosen site. Lastly, this design proposal has answered successfully, within its own means, the research question: yes, it is possible to achieve better justice, integration and pedestrian-friendly city fabric through the activation of the M8 Corridor in Glasgow.
However, there are points in which this proposal could be further developed. This author understands the need for deeper community involvement. The current research, due to COVID-19, could not deliver the full picture through its current methodology. This author also understands the degree of importance of topics such as gentrification and policies in order to truly deliver justice within cityscapes, therefore, further studies are necessary in order to implement this proposal to Glasgow’s urban fabric.