New Dundee Architecture

A mixture of triumphs and missed opportunities seem to surround the renovation work currently being undertaken in the City of Dundee. The above I find particularly appealing - a riverfront development of homes, developing and maintaining the facade of the former Arctic Tannery warehouses on the site and essentially creating a new street in the Victoria Docks (alternate image here). The redevelopment of this area is an early stage of a far broader waterfront redevelopment plan, backpeddling from the poor planning of the 1960s which separated the city centre from the silvery Tay.


Moving west, however, things are not quite so rosy. I can find very little time for the new Alliance Trust Headquarters on the Marketgait. The site is an important one: in addition to the proposed expansion of the Overgate shopping centre and the developments at the West Port (more on this later) Marketgait is the obvious thoroughfare to connect the two, as well as open up the city centre to the north, which the first Overgate's construction in the 70s largely cut off, despite hosting some spectacular architecture. Overall, the building is not terrible by modern standards: it is faintly innovative, the neon lighting contrasts with the bold black exterior; however it entirely fails to take its environment into account. It attempts to dominate, rather than complement, the Bank of Scotland building to its left; it neglects the modern-but-traditional consensus of the rest of the street and by no means least it ignores the architectural heritage of the city it is placed within.


To the immediate north, the scaffolding is soon to come off of the new West Port building, an computer-generated image of which is displayed above. The building will be a mixture of residential and commercial, containing most notably a Grosvenor Casino. Whilst again not to my particular taste, it is relatively sensitive to the historic Tay Mill which it sits beside (to the right of the image), using similarly coloured stone, which ties more harmoniously in with the Marketgait. In design terms, it fits appropriately alongside some of the more recent university buildings to the west.

Again, this is a key area: the gateway joining the northern edge of the traditional city centre with the modern parts of the university and the emerging expansion of the West End, hopefully bringing positive spillover effects into the bars and restaurants of South Tay Street and the nightclubs of Ward Road and for the first time melding together the various nightlife and cultural areas of Dundee. I feel, however, the city must be careful not to rely too heavily on new buildings, when there are so many fine, historic and charming streets beginning for investment and regeneration.
Since I feel I have been terribly modernist in my assessments of the redevelopment, I will also take this opportunity to post an image of some traditional architecture in the city. All but destroyed in a fire in the early 2000s, Morgan Academy - a state comprehensive in the East End - was rebuilt according to its original designs, having a positive effect on the skyline and maintaining some of the former nobility of this sadly deprivated area. Just goes to show what can be accomplished in the present day.

European Conservatism...

The deed is done, the Conservatives are no longer part of the European People's Party/European Democrats group. The new group, the European Conservatives and Reformists, set out their ideals in a 'Prague Declaration' today:

CONSCIOUS OF THE URGENT NEED TO REFORM THE EU ON THE BASIS OF EUROREALISM, OPENNESS, ACCOUNTABILITY AND DEMOCRACY, IN A WAY THAT RESPECTS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF OUR NATIONS AND CONCENTRATES ON ECONOMIC RECOVERY, GROWTH AND COMPETITIVENESS, THE EUROPEAN CONSERVATIVES AND REFORMISTS GROUP SHARES THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES:

1. Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal
regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate
catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
2. Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater
democratic accountability.
3. Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
4. The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
5. The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU
federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
6. The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a
revitalised NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
7. Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum
procedures
8. Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of
both rural and urban communities.
9. An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to
greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU
funds.
10. Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old,
large and small.

Whilst I was critical of the EPP-ED separation, it seems things have actually turned out fairly well. It remains unfortunate that Poland's Law and Justice Party are involved, but just how great a problem this will be remains to be seen.

The Blantyre Monument

A warm summer's evening tromping through the long grass up to what I later discovered to be the Blantyre Monument, between Bishopton and Erskine. The monument is dedicated to the memory of Major-General Robert Walter Stewart K.B., the 11th Lord Blantyre who served most notably alongside Wellington during the Peninsular War and later acted as Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire.

He died in 1830 from a stray bullet when he peered out of the window of his Brussels hotel to observe the rioting crowds in the street during the Belgian Revolution.
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