City Square aims to put the heart in Aberdeen

Plans to transform part of Aberdeen’s city centre into a large public open space, or civic square, have taken a step forward with the unveiling of a new name and identity for the plan. The City Square, would open off Union Street and build a new public space over Union Terrace Gardens and the Denburn.

The vision is described on the City Square website as “a destination that is inspiring in its design with visible and accessible green space at street level that becomes an enjoyable, focal point for everyone to meet and gather”.

City Square Project

This is not the first time, of course, that these plans have been put forward. I can remember writing articles about a similar proposal in the 1980s. The plans were then dusted off as a millennium project. This time, though, they have the backing of ACSEF and Aberdeen businessman Sir Ian Wood, who has pledged to part fund the project.

The idea is that building the City Square would reclaim more than five acres of space at street level, right in the heart of the Granite City – building over the sunken Union Terrace Gardens, the adjacent railway and dual carriageway.

In this space the project team envisage a contemporary arts centre, with a public open space incorporating landmark sculpture and public art. The initial plans include water and lighting features that would excite the eye both day and night.

There would also be performance and plaza areas, gardens and a children’s play area. It would also be an ideal area from which to enjoy the granite architecture of Union Terrace, Rosemount and the Cowdray Hall, war memorial and Art Gallery.

By building across from Union Terrace to Belmont Street, it is envisaged that the back of the buildings on the east side would be ideal to create a cosmopolitan cafe area overlooking the square.

The concourse level below the square would provide linkage to the bus and rail stations, The Green and the Union Square retail development. It is envisaged that the concourse would also accommodate arts space, indoor events and attractions celebrating the heritage and industries of the region.

It would good to think that this time we could set down a marker that the 21st Century is going to be another ‘golden age’ for Aberdeen.

We have had too much talk and too little action in the 20th Century. Union Street did not get the go-ahead at the end of the 18th century by shying away from the scale of the challenge.

This time it is time for action.

Or as the City Square website says. This time. This place. This Generation.

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