Perth city centre used as creative ‘urban laboratory’

Image: University of Dundee

PERTH city centre has been used as a creative ‘urban laboratory’ to explore and test ideas by architecture and urban planning students at the University of Dundee.

The project is in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council. The urban design strategies laid out by the students mirrored the local authority’s ambition of modernising the city centre.

Students were tasked to rethink and repurpose the idea. Concepts ranged from an urban waterfront which reaffirms Perth’s identity on the River Tay’s edge, to public art installations and infusions of green elements to ‘soften’ the urban landscape and improve the quality of space.

The initiative comes as part of a civic urbanism that Dr Husam Alwaer and colleagues at the university have applied in recent years in Dundee and elsewhere – with Perth being the latest focus.

Dr Alwaer commented, “The urban laboratory model enables students to study a place intensively in a manner that addresses real issues and problems, providing solutions aimed at improving the quality of life for its own communities, businesses and visitors.

“Students were encouraged to critically and spatially explore place themes related to health and wellbeing, connectivity, local economy, cultural and perceptional aspects, public realm, waterfront and street design.

“The various propositions included considering the re-use of existing buildings, parking facilities, cultural assets, streets and public spaces to deliver housing, creative industry, businesses and services – all mutually connected to build up a cumulative impact upon the wider city of Perth.

“We hope this research project provides a source of inspiration for the Perth community as we plan into the future to 2040 and beyond.”

David Littlejohn, head of planning and development at Perth and Kinross Council, added, “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Architecture and Urban Planning students at the University of Dundee to help inform and shape the future of Perth.

“This new and exciting link-up between academic, public and private practitioners has helped advance research and inform best practice to shape future place-based investment and development. This project is part of an ambitious programme to collaborate with our communities to design and deliver better places.

“We are keen that as many people as possible now take the opportunity to view this work by commenting on the students’ ideas in the online exhibition. This will help us begin to think about how, together, we can help make some of these ideas a reality as part of the future transformation of the city and wider area.”

Other proposed projects for the city include a pedestrian prioritised corridor through the city centre, a welcome gate reimagining the entrance to Perth from the train station and the redevelopment of one of Perth’s disused railway lines into a new urban corridor.