Having previously completed undergraduate degrees in BA Art History and Theory and BSc in Urban Design and Planning, my interest in Urban Design leans towards theoretical and social aspects of the discipline. My latest interests are focused on questions of how the built environment of a city affects people who inhabit it through the design guidance in a sense of both – choices in directions and actions as well as being a part of a constant development processes and its consequences. I am trying to combine concepts of energy efficient and socially just environments with theories of a spatial presence and memory, looking into notions of demolition, re-construction and up-cycling.
Thresholds of Cowcaddens
According to Stavros Stavrides, an alternative model to the modern city of urban enclaves is a city of thresholds. These thresholds, “possess power to mediate actions that open spatially as well as socially fixed identities and encourage chance encounters” (Stavrides, 2007).
The aim of this urban design project is to explore how physical thresholds mediate social conditions at the scale of a city centre neighbourhood. Thresholds, connect one space to another, as a mode of transition within the urban fabric and interlink between public and private. These in-between spaces at the intersection of two realms signal invitation or act as a barrier and each with their own physical identity.
Cowcaddens, a neighbourhood located within the city centre, yet segregated by elevated roads and unwelcoming ground floor car park underneath the modernist housing estate’s pilotis, presents a Glasgow specific issue of disintegration of the urban fabric as a result of post-war development. The area that suffers from vacancy and alienation, resembling a stalled industrial quarter, asks for interventions that would unite the neighbourhood with the rest of the city centre. To address this challenge, the concept of thresholds is applied, setting up the research question: Can concept of thresholds be explored on the scale of a neighbourhood and become a tool to determine and replace physical and social boundaries?