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Speedy Spaces

Donal James Hardy 05007429 Urban Architecture Studio Dundee School of Architecture University of Dundee




It may seem as an obscure proposition, to place the Las Vegas strip onto the waterfront of Dundee. However, the reality of the situation currently is that, it is not a waterfront ‘promenade’, a ‘riverside drive’, or ‘boulevard’, the area is at the moment the equivalent of the commercial strip, an urban sprawl that bares many of the trademarks as was describe by Venturi, Scottbrown and Izenour in the publication – Learning from Las Vegas. An urban sprawl of low rise buildings set back from the road, with parking lots and all the attention focused on their frontages, facing the road, with big signs in big spaces. This thesis is an investigation into how the city associates itself to infrastructure. Through analysis, montage, juxtapositions and design I will investigate the spatial qualities of ‘speedy space’ and whether there is an appropriate urban form that is a direct response to infrastructure to create a meaningful experience for both the commuter and pedestrian?



Contents Introduction Aims and objectives Structure of dissertation Dundee - The Test bed The Councils Response

Section 1- Research context Time vs. Distance – linear cities Perception of speed - The Aesthetics of Motion Occupying the urban Vacuum Context and Scale - Euralille Did Las Vegas get it right?

Section 2 - Design Proposition Dundee’s Waterfront vs. The Las Vegas Strip Montage Diagram Design Context

7 8 8 9 10

13 15 20 26 31 34

39 40 42 44

Site Strategy and Development


Sketch Proposal 25 – 02 - 2011


Diagram Development Central Waterfront Waterfront Strip Playing fields and Magdalen Green

52 54 56 58

Revised Sketch Proposal 24 – 03 – 2011


Revisiting the Waterfront strip


Final Waterfront Proposal 24 – 04 - 2011 Conclusions Bibliography

70 73 75

Appendices Appendix 1 - Case study: Euralille Appendix 2 - Development Videos Appendix 3 - Urban Morphology - Group work


Figure 1.0_ Photo of model. Dru investigation into the


perception of space along railway lines

Introduction I am interested in movement, in sequence and scale, how space is perceived when moving at speed. It is this interest in movement that has led me down a path that investigates major Infrastructure and how we perceive and use the spaces around it. For the commuter on the road can be a play on motion, sequence and scale, but in many cases the car journey is a boring one, disconnected to the spaces around it in a repetitive sequence of motorway engineering. In the case of rail travel, you pass through the back end of the city, viewing the backs of buildings, moving through the industrial yards and waste land and viewing into people’s back gardens. The perception of this rail space was investigated through the DRU project under the title of ‘Speedy Spaces: Investigation into the perception of space and urban planning along railway lines.’ In this piece of writing, the perspective of the rail commuter was investigated through the process of documenting a single journey from Dundee to Perth. This process abstracted the journey into a series of images that attempt to make sense of the journey in spatial terms, a methodical process that ended with quite abstract results. Alongside this, a short discussion of linear cities historically and how they might make an impact on planning developments in the future. This investigation into ‘Speedy Space’ is continued in this thesis by incorporating vehicular infrastructure and by looking at a much larger aspect of the city in general with a deeper investigation into issues that were only touched upon with the DRU. Within many cities there is major transport infrastructure, and in many respects this infrastructure is beneficial by connecting the city to the wider context and allowing for expansion, bringing economic wealth to the city and its surrounding areas. However, in some cases, the urban consequences of this are not so beneficial. Highways cut their way through cities resulting in built form turning its back on the road, at interchanges and off ramps, etc, huge amounts of land are handed over to the road resulting in dead spaces without programme, a waste in any city centre. At the same


time, commuters move through on this heavy infrastructure without any connection to the city, no realisation of the place they just moved through. All of these aspects are a result of how the city associates itself to infrastructure. Is there a more appropriate urban form that is a direct response to infrastructure to create a meaningful experience for both the commuter and pedestrian? Aims and objectives The aim of this research is to investigate whether there is an appropriate urban response to infrastructure and the potential spatial qualities that it has, for both the commuter and the users of the spaces around it. Through the analysis of numerous examples of literary work and both theoretical and built design projects, a deeper understanding of the subject area is sought in order to inform a design project. Through a design project, the difficult issues that surround infrastructure and the methods and concepts to tackle it can be tested. The Design project will entail a large scale master planning encompassing the large scale spaces that are inherent with infrastructure and the commuter and closer studies of specific areas of the master plan to investigate in more detail the spatial qualities adjacent to the road from the perspective of the user of the spaces adjacent. Structure of dissertation The structure of this thesis will be primarily in two parts, Research context and Research Proposition. With the research context I will address a number of different issues that have been proposed and discussed by others and set out how seemingly separate projects actually address similar concepts/ issues in different ways. In some cases these methods and theories may be investigated further by using Dundee as a test bed, in particular, the Waterfront; an area of land that has many of the symptoms of the negative impact infrastructure can have. In the latter, I will be using what I’ve learned to put forward a proposal for the Waterfront of Dundee that addresses many of the issues raised.

Figure 1.1_ Las Vegas

Figure 1.2_ Barcelona

Figure 1.3_ Manhatten

Figure 1.4_ Rome


Dundee - The test bed

Figure 1.5_ Dundee

As part of the Urban Architecture Studio a key area of interest within Dundee currently are the plans that are underway for the central waterfront and the high profile international design competition for a new Victoria and Albert museum that would make up part of this plan. These proposals would become the source of a lot of discussion within the group, discussions regarding the grid iron plan, its scale, density, how it deals with infrastructure, etc. As a result, we decided to use the same area to try and position ourselves within the city, our interest and learn something new about Dundee, through using urban form as a starting point. By using montage, figure ground plans ranging from ancient Rome to Las Vegas were placed on the waterfront, the resulting images were in some cases very provocative (see figures 1.1 to 1.4), highlighting many issues regarding urban form, public space, infrastructure, etc by observing similarities and contrasts in the two cities side by side, as well as raising the issue of how you stitch any new urban form into the existing Dundee. The work carried out is documented in more detail in Appendix 3 entitled ‘Urban Morphology- an analysis of fictional urbanism: Dundee’

[Source: Google Maps]


Dundee’s waterfront Historically, the waterfront of Dundee was a highly successful port to the world, with the majority of work for the people of the city connected to the port through the jute industry. Through the years the docklands became larger and ever more complex, expanding out into the Tay and reclaiming land. However, at the turn of the 20th century the industry began to decline and the docks became used less and less. By the 60’s Dundee needed a lifeline, a road bridge that would bring commerce to the city centre, and by mid 1966 the Tay road bridge was opened. To support the new bridge a new network roads was built across the waterfront of Dundee this is where the infrastructural problems arise. The roads have created an area adjacent to the city centre dominated by heavy traffic. The roads have severed the link between the city and its waterfront and created a no-man’s land. Full of dead spaces that lack programme or activity and no sense of place. In addition, the area serves as the main entrance to the city itself, and as a result become a source of some embarrassment for the city. The council’s response As a result, the council has put forward a proposal to rectify the issue with a master plan. The scheme attempts to deal the infrastructural and permeability issues by enforcing a gridiron plan that picks up on streets from the city centre and channels the traffic approaching the city through two parallel ‘boulevards’. As a master plan, the proposal does not deal with the wider area of the waterfront with much of it remaining undeveloped and lacks definition of place along its length. It is this area of the city will become the focus of a master design proposition that uses the infrastructure to generate an urban form and initially, since the council proposal for the waterfront is a live project currently under construction, the gridiron plan will form part of an design project in the area, however, this approach will change through further investigation into speed, infrastructure and the area itself.


Figure 1.6_ Dundee 1793

Figure 1.7_ Dundee 1893

Figure 1.8_ Dundee 2010

Figure 1.9_ Dundee 2030

Figure 1.12 _ Existing and proposed

Figure 1.13 _ Road and Rail

Figure 1.14 _ Permeability

Figure 1.10_ Plans for Dundee’s waterfront as proposed by Dundee City Council [source:]



Section 1

Research Context - Principal concepts, literature and examples of work carried out by others.



Research context To investigate ‘speedy space’, it is important build a context to help define what a space defined by speed is, and these range from master plans for entire cities to urban form defining space on a road to individual buildings. In this section I attempt to build a clearer context of what ‘speedy’ spaces are and the forms that they take, as well as the addressing the issues and concepts connected to them.

Distance vs. Time – The Linear City ‘Work and its location came to play an increasingly subordinate role in the choice of housing. The citizen moved into any part of the territory he wished giving rise to the phenomenon of the commuter. The relationship of residence and work became fundamentally bound up with time, they became Zeitfunktion.’ [Rossi, A.1984. p 159] Since the development of mechanised transport, our cities have expanded far beyond what was previously capable. London in 1800 had a population of approximately 1 million persons, and by 1900 its population had exploded to over 6 million. This expansion was made possible because of the railway, it now became possible to live on one area and work in another, outside of walking distance, people had become increasingly more concerned with time of travel rather than distance. ‘Speed expands time by contracting space; it negates the notion of physical dimension.’ [Tschumi. B. 1994. p 216] As a contemporary example of this concept, a workshop organised by the Berlage Institute and lead by MVRDV architect Winny Maas, resulted in a publication entitled ‘The Five Minutes City’. The publication details work carried out by a number groups in the workshop, each group worked on the


basis that every area of a city would be accessible within 5 minutes (or any other pre-determined time) from another. A multitude of different solutions working with different cities emerged from the work shop, all of which are from a pure conceptual thinking stand point highlighting the modern day obsession with distance vs. time. Similarly, with the major development of the TGV line in Europe and Euralille, Koolhaas briefly discusses the consequence of time vs. distance in SMLXL, stating that ‘Lille is the place to start. And even if you are an English company and can’t afford to establish yourself in London, you could set up an office in northern France and still be “closer” to the city of London than you would be in some parts of greater London itself.’ [Koolhaas, R. 1995. SMLXL. P1158] However, this concept of distance vs. time, for Koolhaas, remains a conceptual discussion on the social and economic consequence of the location of the TGV station and does not appear to reflect upon the master plan or architecture of the area. With this same concept in mind, Spanish town planner Arturo Soria y Mata in 1882 developed the concept of a linear city along a single piece of infrastructure and as he believed “the key to urban living is not distance but travel time” [Soria y Mata, cited by Morley, R] this idea was known as ‘Ciudad Lineal’. This idea of a linear city for Soria y Mata was an ambitious one; he conceived that a city of this type could potentially stretch across Europe from Cadiz in Spain to St. Petersburg in Russia.[Schwarzer, M. p57] As well as quick travel times, the benefit of having building concentrated along a linear system, each resident would be of close proximity to the countryside and landscape, considered a beneficial aspect for the wellbeing of residents. The concept was tested on the outskirts of Madrid as a ring development along tram lines, however, due to funding issues only 9 miles was ever constructed and since then has been enveloped by the expansion of Madrid. The idea of a linear city however was not left at that, there have been numerous iterations of the same concept proposed ever since with some more well known than others.


Figure 2.1_ A distorted view of Europe based on time of travel rather than distance, with Lille at its centre. [Source: S,M,L,XL]

Figure 2.2_ ’Ciudad Lineal’, Aruto Soria y Mata. Poster advertising the lin-

Figure 2.3_ Section showing the arrangement of buildings around the single infrastructure. Buildings are

ear development around Madrid. The scheme was never completed and

set back from the tram lines, with trees and foliage act as buffering for pedestrian use of the street[Source:

would be engulfed by the expanding city. [Source: Website_aviewofma-]]


In 1909 the Ford Motor company opened its assembly lines and the Model T car was in production, and the era of the motor car emerged, it was this new personal mode of transport that would become the focus for urban planning in the 20th century. Le Corbusier, like others, had become fascinated by the new forms of transport emerging, but in particular the car would become a focus in a number of proposals, none more so than in his proposal for the North African city of Algiers in 1929. In the scheme, Le Corbusier proposed a single giant highway stretching along the coast with accommodation below for 180,000 people, this road connected with a business district at the docks and civic district in the hills. The areas around these mega structures would become parkland or remain rural, this allowed for residence in the accommodation beneath the highway access to clean air, light and the landscape, a similar proposal to that of Soria y Mata. The proposal would never be built due to its destructive impact on the existing city. “Well aware of this quality, the architect called his plan the “Obus” or “shrapnel” plan.” [Antonelli, Paola. 2002]

Figure 2.4_’Obus’ plan, Algiers. Photo of model. This model clearly shows the massive and destructive nature of this scheme. This is one of the primary reasons why the plan was never adopted. [Source: Website_]


Central waterfront Montage As part of work carried out within the Urban Architecture studio as a group (see appendix 3), the figure ground plan of Dundee was montaged with the plan of Le Corbusier’s plan for Agliers - Plan Obus, and the figure ground plan of Soria y Mata’s Ciudad Lineal was placed onto the waterfront of Dundee. A single linear development in both cases, with very different consequences. Ciudad Lineal

A single piece of infrastructure connecting the length of the gives

the area and unified strategy, however as an urban form of low rise, domestic scale buildings it sits uneasily in this context. The fragmented nature of this plan does not sit well adjacent to larger urban blocks of the city centre. It is worth noting that in its original context, this is in the outskirts of Madrid and perhaps its urban form reflects this.

Figure 2.5_ Montage figure ground plan. Dundee with Ciudad Lineal

Plan ‘Obus’

Again a single linear development, in this case however, beneath

a highway gives the waterfront area a clarity and unity that connects east and west parts of the city, with the potential of abundant green space for the population. However, the impact the project would have on the existing fabric of the city would be drastic, removing much of the cities historic centre. An aspect that Le corbusier may have not had much regard for (see plan voisin, Paris), but an aspect of the city many regard as important. However, the unifying quality that the single strip of infrastructure in a landscaped waterfront is compelling as a strategy.

Figure 2.6_ Montage figure ground plan. Dundee with ‘obus’ plan


Perception of speed – Aesthetics of Motion

Figure 2.7_ Sequence diagrams by Donald Appleyard, Kevin Lynch & John R Myer from their book,

‘the view from the road can be a dramatic play of space and motion, of light and texture, all on a new scale. These long sequences could make our vast metropolitan areas comprehensible. The driver would see how the city is organised, what it symbolises, how people use it, how it relates to him. To our way of thinking the highway is a great neglected opportunity in city design.’ [Appleyard, D. 1964. p 03]

‘The View from the Road’. This is an example of one stage of their process of documenting the ‘View from the Road’ Through the observation and documenting of existing conditions on a road, they were able to determine the qualities of perception from the road as well as what aspects of the road heighten the perception of

The perception of space at speed or in motion is an aspect that is often over look by those who design roads, and as a result some roads can lack any sense of place and simply become a repetitive, boring transit space. However, the perception of moving quickly through a space can be an exhilarating one, and has very particular qualities. The driver of a vehicle has focus upon the road head, a space that is defined by the road surface, signs etc. Objects are continuously moving past, those in closest proximity becoming but a blur, while objects in the distance remain more static and as such become the focus of attention or point of reference.

motion. The lessons learned in the process then may be reversed in order to design a sequence of spaces to be experienced by the road user. [Source: The view from the Road] Figure 2.8 & 2.9 _ To test the method of documenting the road to gain a fuller understanding of sequence and motion, two studies on the Dundee waterfront were carried out. In figure 2.8, the conditions adjacent to the road were

‘The aesthetics of the automobile view are shaped by the brief encounter, a quick and potent mix of vision with form that almost instantaneously evaporates.’

documented as a linear diagram. These, how-

[Schwarzer, Mitchell. 2004. p 72]

sequence of images from the perspective of a

ever did not demonstrate perception of motion desired. In figure 2.9, by making sketches of a motorist on entrance to Dundee, certain aspects

In ‘The view from the road’ Appleyard and lynch document the experience of travelling on a motorway through a series of notations and sequential diagrams. These diagrams attempt to define what elements define an experience on a road, by recording important nodal points, change of direction, edges, enclosure of road (e.g tunnel), landmarks etc. Analysis of these sequences then can result in a method for the design of a motorway and the spaces around it, as perceived by the commuter. In figures 2.7 these diagrams show the types of notation used and their potential application.


were uncovered. For example, it shows how the tower building in the waterfront provided orientation as it was momentarily hidden and revealed on occasion, as well as the repetition of road elements such as street lighting provided a constant rhythmic quality behind which other aspects could change

Figure 2.8_ Documenting of conditions adjasent to the road. Entrance to Dundee

Figure 2.9_ Documenting forward view on entrance to Dundee



Site Strategy 1 Under the premise that the council proposal should be included into any proposal for the waterfront, this initial scheme attempted to use the method of sequencing and story boards to design the approach to Dundee. As well as connecting two key areas, the university and cultural quarter and the vista from Union Street to the new V&A proposal. The resulting proposal focused on the area of the train station with a landscaped element bridging over the infrastructure that acts as a mediator between the pedestrian space and car space. Key criticisms of this proposal were the scales of spaces being created. Buildings and the spaces between them were getting very large and the re-arrangement of infrastructure was quite convoluted. It was decided that using a grid on the site would help deal the scale of public spaces being created.


In a similar fashion, Dutch Architects, Mecanoo use a notation system to

its relationship to the surrounding suburban fabric is apparent only from

record the experience of being on the Randstad, a ring road/motorway that passes through 4 key Dutch cities The Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam. Figure 2.10 show the notation used when documenting speeds, service points, over passes, off ramps and depth of field. Both of these examples of ‘roadscape’ notation however would not result in a built design projects and remain as methods for understanding the road. However more recently, 1996-2003, on the A13 Barking and Dagenham (East London), a public art project with the motorist in mind was commissioned. The Master plan for the scheme was designed by architect Tom de Paor, with which he designed the spaces adjacent to the A13 with the commuter in mind. ‘‘The roads are full of life. Could you choreograph this?” he wondered. “Could you, through engineering the landscape, make it “place” enough at 50mph – make it charged enough, for the passing motorist?” [Tom de Paor cited by O’Toole, Shane. 2000]

precise vehicle trajectories and vantage points around it, the needles focusing into alignment momentarily as the viewer passes.’[Barking & Dagenham Council. 2011]

Within this master plan, de Paor identifies a number of different sites alongside the road and at junctions to create a unified landscape that communicates a visual experience for the commuter as they move through it. By using elements an features typical of motorways, grassy verges, fencing, barriers etc, a sculpted landscape becomes the setting for a number of separate object buildings/ art installations. Examples of the installations are illustrated in figure 2.11 to 2.13. Throughout the scheme lighting is used to reinforce the visual connection along to motorway at night. The piece entitled ‘Holding Pattern’ (figure 2.13), design by Graham Ellard and Stephen Johnstone, responds to the concept of speed as the commuter moves through it and perceives it from various perspectives. A geometric grid of steel columns, that responds to the geometry of the road, with lighting at the point of each needle surround the road and even continue beneath the road itself. The sense of motion is highlighted by the effect of parallax as the strict grid aligns and miss aligns itself by moving through it. ‘The active geometry and


Figure 2.10_ Documenting of conditions adjacent to the ring road Randstad. Project carried out by Mecanoo Architects, Rotterdam [ Source: ROAM: Reader on the Aesthetics of Mobility]

Figure 2.11_ Plan - Arterial: As series of sites along the A13 motorway for development in conjunction with artists and other designers

Figure 2.12_ Pump House. A concrete object in the landscape

Figure 2.13_ Holding Pattern. A geometric grid of steel columns with lighting engage

6 m high and 4 m square at its base. Changing LED’s displays

the driver with the effects of parallax as the columns align and miss-align as they move

on each facade relate to the time of day, engaging with the

around it.

temporal aspect of the scheme, where the perception of road space changes throughout the day.


Occupying the Urban Vacuum ‘There is no there, there’ – Gertrude Stein [cited by Halprin. L. In ‘Freeways’. p 96] There are occasion on the highway where residual spaces are created, particularly at interchanges. Interchanges can occupy huge amounts of space and the consequences for this within a city can be devastating. The highway begins to act as a divider of communities and districts as it cuts through cities, creating un desirable spaces that lack programme or event. ‘ Mobility, motion, and the automobile became the tools for isolation’ [Trancik, R. 1986. p 6]Due to the sameness of motorway engineering they are often generic places that lack any sense of place and can be seen all over the country. See figure 2.14 The sweeping off ramps and curve of roads at intersections are a side effect of speed itself due to turning radius at certain speeds and can in some case take up huge amounts of land. However, this issue of interchange has not always been an issue, at reduced speeds this issue has been solved quite effectively by a roundabout. These points deal with change in direction easily, they use significantly less space, and in some case can have a very strong sense of place. Perhaps the most famous roundabout, Place Charles de Gaulle (figure 2.15), has a very strong sense of place and accommodates both car and pedestrian with ease. This is down to a number of factors that include an appropriate scale of building around it that enclose the space. There is an appropriate ratio of car space and people space, and a central focal point which in this case is the arc de triumph. See figure 2.18 for sectional analysis. By using similar principals as those in effect at roundabouts, Archigram group entered a competition to redesign Piccadilly Circus, London. In the scheme, the sweeping curves of the raise roads give geometric ‘sculpture’ to the space, beneath which there is landscaping for the use of pedestrians. The buildings around the space are of an appropriate scale to give definition of space and enclosure. See figures 2.16 and 2.17


Figure 2.14_ Cloverleaf interchange

Figure 2.18_ Sectional analysis of place Charles de Gaulle.

Figure 2.15_ Arial view of Place Charles De Gaulle [ Source: Bing maps]

Figure 2.16_ Piccadilly Circus, London [Source: Bing maps]

Figure 2.17_ Archigram -Piccadilly Circus, Competition [Source: website - http://archigram.]


In the same fashion as the montage of ‘obus’ plan. The ‘Champs Elysees’ and ‘Place Charles de Gaulle’ has been montages onto the waterfront of Dundee. The ‘Place Charles de Gaulle’ has a very intense infrastructural presence, however, it retains a sence of place. Can Dundee’s waterfront take lessons from this?

Figure 2.19_ Montage figure ground plan. Dundee with Champs Elysees and Place Charles de Gaulle


Figure 2.20_ Montage Dundee with Place Charles de Gaulle - in trying to create an entrance to Dundee, would this be a suitable solution? Rather than disembarking from the bridge into a no mans land that is the existing waterfront, can we create a place that is defined by the architecture around it.


This serves as an example of how an interchange works as a space with the definition of buildings surrounding it, however a challenge often raised today is to occupy the land left over by the roads. To occupy the space after the road has been built, rather than planning the space as a whole beforehand. An example of this challenge was carried out by Dutch firm Monolab with their project Infrabodies. In this scheme, through an analysis of the A20 Randstad ring road, a series of empty sites in close proximity to each other with typical contexts were selected and used as examples of situation on roads across Holland. The resulting project was a purely speculative, imaginative investigation into the potential programmes that may occupy the sites and how a built project might intersect with the heavy infrastructure. Not intended to be realistic, practical solutions, they were intended to be optimistic in the opportunities infrastructure holds. ‘Had this research been executed in accordance with current laws and regulation, an impenetrable mountain of limitations would have emerged. So we approached the research from the opposite side in order to reveal the potentials of infrastructure.’ [Monolab Architects.2011] In the work, the proposals interact with the road in different ways, in some cases the road is encased in a tunnel and programme is built around them, occupying the odd shapes created by slip roads (see figure 2.22). In other cases the building uses a space alongside the road, where the car is able to disembark from the road and drive into the building itself and in another case a landscape is brought over the road and the spaces around occupied by various commercial and residential programme. As a project, this works more contently as one dealing with buildings interacting and engaging with infrastructure rather than exploring how an urban form might be informed by the aspect of motion and the issues this raises. Similarly, Freeway Park in Seattle, designed by Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, is a large city centre park bridging over a motorway cutting


Figure 2.21_ Plan -Freeway park, Seattle - Lawrence Halprin. Plan -[Source: website:] Photo [Source: http://stlelsewhere.blogspot. com/2009/11/st-louis-lid-seattles-freeway-park.html ]


through the city. In the scheme, Halprin uses landscaping to bring together

Monolab Architects, Rotterdam.

various districts of the city that had be separated by the road, and occupying the dead spaces the road created for the benefit of the pedestrian. This example, like the Monolab proposals, is primarily driven by making the space around the road people friendly rather than focusing on the experience of the commuter whom has little engagement with the park itself. This perhaps is a reflection on the external perspective that Halprin has taken with regard to highways, with his admiration of the geometric aesthetics of the road as sculpture and described as ‘vast and beautiful works of engineering speak to us in a language of a new scale, new attitude in which high speed motion and the qualities of change are not mere abstract conceptions but a vital part of everyday life.’ [Halprin, L. 1966. p 17]




First image, analysis of Randstad ring road in Holland informed the selection of sites along road. The selection of sites was determined by their ‘typical’ qualities, so the studies conducted could apply to many situations on dutch roads. Note: in the lower example, the spaces are defined by the road itself and programme is inserted. This programme is able to occupy the space by encasing the roads and in a sense hiding them. This approach does not consider th perspective of the commuter to inform the design and the issue of speed and motion are not addressed. [Source: website-]

Context and Scale - Euralille One aspect that all of the projects mentioned so far share is their size, be they master planning strategies or individual buildings it appears that a by product of dealing with infrastructure and speed results in large scale buildings and spaces. This is down to the fact that moving at high speed allows for experiencing large areas within a short period of time, therefore building within this parameter, the proposals need to be large in order to be successfully perceived by the commuter. If ‘bigness’ is a by product of infrastructure and speed, then how does infrastructure begin to fit into a city centre context successfully, without creating vast amounts of unusable space? ‘Bigness is no longer part of any urban tissue. It exists; at most, it coexist. Its subtext is fuck context.’ [Koolhaas, R. 1995. p 502] As a built project, the Euralille master plan by Rem Koolhaas and the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), begins to address this issue of ‘big-


Occupying the vacuum Is there opportunity for the occupation of dead spaces within the current master plan set out by the council? The dead spaces created by off ramps from the bridge remains, it has not been dealt with in the council’s proposal, see figure 2.23 and appears to have been simply boxed in by the grid iron plan. Can the spaces between and around the bridge off ramps be occupied and given purpose? Can proposals for these spaces enhance the experience as you enter the city from the bridge as you move round buildings shaped by the road? There may be opportunities for proposals to follow the elegant curves of the road and connecting a number of spaces, or remain as distinct objects shaped by the spaces they occupy, viewing them from different points as you move around them. Speculation on program for these buildings perhaps should be providing something more than simply extra parking. Program such as cinema/theatres that are generally inward orientated and require little connection to their surroundings may occupy these spaces.

Figure 2.23_ Residual spaces around bridge Figure 2.26_ Residual spaces around bridge

Site Strategy 2 With this strategy, the driving the driving concept was to unify the waterfront by continuing the grid plan as proposed by the council. Figure 2.26 show how the grid was continued by extending density from the cities existing urban grain. In this proposal, the area of the waterfront begins to become more unified with the councils proposal, however, it has lost the association with speed and infrastructure. see figure 2.7 The scale of the buildings and space do not engage with speed and the grid plan at the central waterfront allows for any traffic to disperse in any direction it chooses, removing the sequential aspect to movement on a single road With this revelation, it was decided that rather than trying to incorporate the council’s proposal into any scheme or design, a proposal for the area may disregard the plans that are in place currently, as the grid imposed removes the key aspect of motion

Figure 2.24_ Response 1

speed that I aspire to be the generator of a design project.


Figure 2.25_ Response 2

Figure 2.27_ 3-D models showing how a more dense lan might fit into its context

ness’ through the setting out of many large elements within a historic context. Key aspect of the scheme include the realignment of infrastructure, marking entrance to the city, highlighting the speed of the TGV line and dealing with residual space, all done on a large scale. A scale that is completely alien to the city of Lille, however, the project, while it makes no attempt to fit snugly into its context or blend in, it does ‘coexist’. The large shopping mall triangle fills the site it occupies(see figure 2.28), defining the street edge, at the scale of other buildings on that street, while acting as a mediator between the pedestrian scale of the city and the high speed, large scale of the TGV station.

Figure 2.28_ Aerial photo - Euralille - The scale of the scheme is huge, and completely alien to its context, however, it mediates well through the triangle district and addresses its context at street level. [Source:]

Figure 2.28_ Master planing model - Euralille -Working at a large scale in a city centre context. Euralille serves as a key example of this [Source: http://]

Through the sketch design proposals I have produced though the course of this investigation (see site strategy 1- page 23 and site strategy 2 opposite page) I have come across similar issues of scale. With the first proposal, external spaces intended for pedestrian use were becoming very large as a result designing for the commuter, perceiving space at speed. While in the second, in an attempt to fit in with context, the spaces become unresponsive to speed and do not engage with the commuter. A successful proposition on the waterfront of Dundee will have to work on both the level of pedestrian and commuter harmoniously, without one overpowering the other. In this way Euralille serves as an example on mediating between both scales as well as of how to design on a master planning scale successfully by not imposing specific character or styles to elements in the scheme to allow for other designer to work within its parameters.

‘The status of the projects is ambiguous: we defined levels, sections, relationships, interfaces - but not architecture. No project is our project; we were working (with varying degrees of success) with/ through other architects’ [Koolhaas, R. 1995. p 1184]


Did Las Vegas get it right? ‘Las Vegas is to the strip, what Rome is to the piazza’ [Venturi, Scott-brown, Izenour. 1977. p18] A key area of study that has not been mentioned thus far is the work carried out by Venturi and Scott-brown, in their book ‘Learning from Las Vegas’. Unlike the previous examples given ‘Learning from Las Vegas’ does not attempt to provide an architectural proposal or solution based upon the qualities of speed. Instead it gives an analysis of the effects that the motorway and speed has had on the evolution of the Las Vegas strip. At the time of writing, as Venturi explains in his essay ‘Las Vegas after its classic age’ , Las Vegas was ‘not the prototype but the phenomenon at its most pure’ of the commercial strip in America, and the ‘ archetypal’ urban sprawl. [Venturi. R. 1996. p 123]. And so, it would be the ideal place to conduct a study into the urban and architectural consequences of this commercial strip and urban sprawl. All of the aspects raised by Venturi, Scott-Brown and Izenour are a direct result of the influence of the automobile and speed, with particular focus on symbolism and how signage on the strip is more important than architecture. Signage

Figure 2.29_ Dundee, South Marketgait - A92

‘the driver has no time to ponder paradoxical subtleties within a dangerous sinuous maze, he or she relies on signs for guidance – enormous signs in vast spaces at high speeds’ [Venturi, Scott brown, Isenour. 1977. p9] The use of signage on roads has been around for as long as the auto-mobile, signs are required by the motorist to navigate and their design is a direct result of the speed of the vehicles on them. On motorway’s where speeds are at their greatest, signs are large objects in the landscape to be seen at great distances.


Figure 2.30_ Sketch- Dundee, South Marketgait - A92. Sketch illustrates how the road space is not defined by signage, the view on the road is generic with occational signage for orientation.

As the Las Vegas strip was built up around a highway through the city, signage has be become a key feature in the architecture of the strip itself. ‘The little low buildings, grey – brown, like the desert, separate and recede from the street, that is now the highway, their false fronts disengaged and turned perpendicular to the highway as big, high signs. If you take the signs away, there is no place’ [Venturi, Scott brown, Isenour.1977. p 18]

Figure 2.31_ Las Vegas Strip, looking north. [ Source: Learning form Las Vegas]

Figure 2.32_ Sketch- Las Vegas Strip. Road space on the strip is defined by large signs located on the immediate side of the road. Their size allows them to be read at a distance and location allows them to be in the motorists view for longer.

In this landscape, signage begins to define the space along the highway, to give it a sense of place, a street defined by signs. The size, shape and height of these signs are continually changing, in competition with one and other for the passing consumer. This is an architecture that is driven by commercial agendas, to out-do the competition. The changing nature of these signs and cladding gives the strip an apparent chaotic aesthetic, see figure 2.31, however, this is given order by the repetitive overlay that a highway brings in the form of regular junctions and turning points as well as the street lighting. This gives the strip a definition of place not found commonly on uk roads, see figure 2.29. The location of signage on the strip is not limited to the roadside, due to the speed of the passing vehicles the buildings themselves are spaced far apart and set back from the road, allowing for them to comprehendible by passing motorists, with signs on the buildings themselves. The signage is often concentrated on the sides of the building so that oncoming vehicle can observe them for longer on approach than the frontages. Figure 2.30 shows how Dundee, while does have the low rise shed typology that is comparable to Las Vegas, signage is minimal, these spaces as a result lack any sense of place. ‘Out on the strip, elite and intricate building languages, intended to convey meaning to pedestrians no longer work. A new architectural mode of expression has evolved.’ [ Schwarzer. M. 2004. p 91]


While this may be a new kind of architectural expression, the content of it is out-with the architects or designers control. Symbolism within architecture is nothing new and signage is just the modern equivalent. “the architect builders of the Egyptian pylons did not specify the content of the hieroglyphics, etc; and in the information ages the informational and decorative content should not derive from the Architect” [Venturi, R. 2000. P156]

Scale The scale of the urban fabric in Las Vegas is a direct result to the impact if the car. The vast spaces between buildings are defined by car parks. The scale of this space can only be experienced by the motorist moving along the strip. ‘A single shot of the strip is less spectacular; it enormous spaces must be seen as a moving sequence.’[Venturi, 1977. p 35] The scale of the architecture on the strip responds directly to the speed of the motorist passing by, however, when approaching the building at a pedestrian level, the architecture and the signage respond at another scale. Signs are at human level and contain more information as they can be seen for a more sustained period of time. As you move into the building, the Lobbies and casino rooms become a ‘pedestrian oasis’ from the harsh roadscape environment. In addition, there is a difference in scale that can be observed with the roads that intersect the Strip itself, Fremont street (the main street of Las Vegas) contains much of the same function and programme as the strip, with Hotels, casinos, wedding chapels etc, yet it does so at a more pedestrian level. ‘The casinos are bazaar like in the immediacy to the side walk of their clicking and tinkling gambling machines’ [Venturi, Scott brown, Isenour.1977. p 19] Figure 2.33_ Scale on the strip works on different levels, depending on your point of perspective. The low density, urban ‘sprawl’ on the strip is a direct result of the automobiles impact on its surrounding. Parking lots take up vast amounts of space around and between buildings. At a pedestrian level, the buildings respond as one gets out of their vehicle, moving through a series of lobbies, retail and casino’s, that use traditional architectural subtlies not percievable from a car.


New Las Vegas “Current Las Vegas is less relevant than old Las Vegas: it went from commercial strip to Disney land.” [Venturi, R. 2000. P156]

Figure 2.34_ Figure ground plan- Las vegas. [Source: Learning from Las Vegas]

The Las Vegas of today can no longer be looked upon as an archetype for the commercial strip, the strip today has become urbanised. Due to the commercial success of the strip, the area around the strip has become dense, the parking lots have been replaced with multi-story car parks, the front parking lot has become a landscaped garden, the Strip itself has been renamed ‘Las Vegas Boulevard’ and has become the domain of the pedestrian. ‘The strip is no longer a linear settlement in the desert, it is a boulevard in an urban setting; sprawl has become edge city’ [Venturi, R. 1996. p 126] The dominance of signs on the ‘boulevard’ has become less with focus now being drawn to the buildings themselves, that no longer are ‘the decorated shed’ but have become the ‘the duck’. For these reasons, modern Las Vegas will not prove useful as an investigation into the urban consequences of speed, however, the old Las Vegas remains as relevant as ever with important lessons to be learned. Can the Las Vegas strip, as described by Venturi, Scott-Brown and Izenour in ‘Learning from Las Vegas’, be used as a model for urban planning around infrastructure today?


Las Vegas at scale

Las Vegas scaled to fit

Las Vegas Density added Figure 2.35_ Montage - Dundee and the Las Vegas Strip. Like Le Corbusier’s plan ‘Obus’ and the Champs Elysees plan. The las Vegas strip was montaged onto the Waterfront of Dundee. However, unlike the previous two, the Strip appears to sit more comfortably adjacent to the existing urban grain of Dundee centre but remains a place apart. This raises the questions of how this type of grain (or urban sprawl) begins to integrate with the existing fabric of Dundee. Can the existing Dundee start to inform a pattern of streets intersecting with the strip and adding density. The diagrams on the right begin to speculate on this idea.


Section 2

Can the highway be considered a place at 50 mph? Can the Las Vegas model be used to inform a design for a linear development on Dundee’s waterfront?


Dundee’s Waterfront vs. the Las Vegas Strip Can the Las Vegas model be used to inform a design for a linear development on Dundee’s waterfront? Initially the concept of using the Las Vegas Strip as a model for the design of a waterfront may be a shocking, however, how different is Las Vegas ( or rather the OLD Las Vegas) from the Dundee waterfront of today? In the diagrams to the right, the comparisons are made through highlighted plans and sections. Both ‘the strip’ and the waterfront are dominated by the car, with abundant car parking and low rise building. An urban sprawl with buildings distributed along its length. Looked at in this manner, the difference become difficult to tell, however, with Dundee the sprawl does not identify with the city, it lacks any sense of place – the Las Vegas has a very strong sense of place.

Figure 3.1_ Above - Comparative Plan Diagrams between Dundee’s Waterfront and The Las Vegas Strip. The colours on the plan illustrate the similarities between road (red) Building (black) and parking (yellow) between both Dundee and Las Vegas


Figure 3.3_ Above - Comparative images between the Las Vegas Strip and Dundee’s waterfront. Similar conditions and

Figure 3.3_ Above - Comparative Section Diagrams between Dundee’s Waterfront and The Las Vegas Strip. The colours on the section illustrate the similarities between road (red) Building (black) and parking (yellow) between both Dundee and Las Vegas


Montage drawings In the series of images to the right, (figure 3.4 to 3.7), the Las Vegas Strip as described by Venturi and Scott-brown has been montage onto the waterfront of Dundee. At true to life scale, (figure 3.4) the Las Vegas Strip is HUGE. The vast size of the Strip overwhelms the area, with super casinos taking up huge areas. At this scale the strip is inappropriate. If the strip was reduced in its scale, so that its road used as a bench mark, (where by the road was scaled down to match the width of the road existing on the waterfront), it begins to sit more comfortably in its context. See figure 3.5 It remains however, a place apart, a strip that runs parallel to the city along its waterfront. In its original setting the strip sits in a desert, with the un-kept backs of the building without. However, if this model were to be used here, the situation is much more different, it now has a built fabric to deal with, as well as a river front setting. This raises the question of how an urban strategy like this would begin to knit into the fabric of Dundee itself. Beginning to speculate on this, some of the urban grain can start to populate some of the residual areas left over by the sprawl. (figure 3.6 & figure 3.7) The area along the waterfront now starts to become more urban. The single heavy infrastructure may not be a place for pedestrian traffic, but can it be ‘place’ enough to allow the commuter feel they have entered the city? This single infrastructural strip makes sense of the jumbled up mess that exists today and unites the waterfront as a whole. This may be the appropriate response to the waterfronts problems.

Figure 3.4_ At true scale

Figure 3.5_ Scaled to fit

Figure 3.6_ Urban Grain as Context

Figure 3.7_ Desnisty added to the strip


The diagram As a diagram, the Las Vegas Strip provides a model for development along a single piece of infrastructure on the water front of Dundee. The 3d diagram, figure ‌ , begins to describe how buildings along this single infrastructure might be organised and the relationship to its context that it might have. The majority of buildings along this strip are road orientated, with their focus on their perception by the commuter from the road however where the buildings on the strip meet the historical context of Dundee, (i.e. the city centre) they also have to deal with the pedestrian scale, effectively becoming a building of two halves. With the recent V&A proposal by Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma, a focus of some attention in Dundee currently, remaining as part of the master plan for the waterfront, the city may begin to reach across this Figure 3.8_ 3D diagram showing Las Vegas montage onto

infrastructure and make a pedestrian connection, allowing for investigation of the relationship

Dundee’s waterfront

between pedestrian and vehicular route


Design Context


Sports area - Art installations and landscape generated by the perception of movement and speed - e.g. A13 Arterial Dagenham - Tom de Paor

The diagram plan right (figure 3.9) illustrates how the site is to be divided up to make the design process a more manageable beast. By splitting the length of the plan into distinct areas, then each area can be treated in different ways that suit their contextual and program needs, with each area inspired by different precedent and conditions on a road. This will contribute to an ever changing experience as you drive along the waterfront, engaging with context in different ways and allowing for different ways of using space alongside the road.

Figure 3.9_ Plan

Airport - Retained - Western boundary to site area

With the initial move made by laying a single infrastructure along the waterfront of Dundee, it becomes clear that this is will be an artery that runs parallel to one already present within Dundee along the Perth road , Nethergate and through the city centre. This historic artery is very much at the scale of the pedestrian, the new route will be at the scale of the car, perceived primarily by the commuter and we may consider how massing and building might occupy the single strip we have created. The aim for a master plan on the waterfront of Dundee is a design that considers the area as a whole and not just addressing the central waterfront as is proposed by Dundee City Council (see page 11), however, to apply the same urban form or strategy along the entire length of the waterfront as suggested by the Las Vegas figure ground diagram would not be appropriate, due to the changing conditions of context and program that is has.

Industrial area and port- Retained - Eastern boundary to site

Central Waterfront - Las Vegas inspired strip continued with interaction with historic context. Relationship between both will be important. Pedestrian connection to the V&A will be key to success

Seabraes Park Area - Urban Sprawl, Las Vegas inspired strip. Generated by observations as noted by Venturi and Scott-Brown in Learning from Las Vegas

Public Green/Park - Magdalen Green bridges over rail tracks and road to connect with waterfront. Encouraging use of waterfront by residents- Seattle Park - Laurence Halprin


Development models With a tabula rasa as a starting point, with the exception of the singular piece of infrastructure, the initial massing and developing the language for the area went through a number of changes. One of the initial problems when dealing with a site of this size is getting to grips with the scale of buildings and spaces being created, by using the context of the city centre as a reference point, a scale appropriate to Dundee would start to be developed. Right: Chronological series of photos showing the stages of massing on the central waterfront develop into a road orientated urban grain. Left: Culmination of this series of models contributed greatly to the eventually final proposal of the scheme.

Figure 3.14_ Above- Photos of massing model 5


Figure 3.10_ Above- Photos of massing model 1

Figure 3.11_ Above- Photos of massing model 2

Figure 3.12_ Above- Photos of massing model 3

Figure 3.13_ Above- Photos of massing model 4


Site Strategy In the previous photos showing the development of the central waterfront through model, a clear relationship between the city and the single infrastructure start to take shape. Through these relatively simple massing models, I began to explore what kind of relationship to context the scheme would have, and initially the relationship manifested in using the streets from the city centre to start setting out the massing, see figure 3.10. However, this began to change as this line between city and road, context and proposal, where the rail line passes underground becomes a symbolic line marked by a series of towers, (see figure 3.11) that addresses the boundary between the new and old, marks the entrance to the city for rail travellers and are at the scale that can be seen at a distance, marking the city centre on the approach by a car. In the following models, (figures 3.12 to 3.15) this row of towers move an adjust to site more easily in their context, without the ‘plinth’ and more proposed massing long the strip becomes evident.

Figure 3.15_ Towers are at the scale of the road, big building in big spaces

The remaining site area was investigated primarily though the use of animation and how the space is experienced in motion. Figure 3.18 show a series of screen shots from the animation, however, this is best seen through video in appendix B (DVD player required). Figure 3.16_ Notional programing of area.


Figure 3.17_ Connection between city centre and V&A

Design as a Sequence 00:00 -00:15 After passing the airport

00:33 – 00:50 At the end of this tunnel ,

on their right, the commuter first moves

you enter into an urban sprawl of low rise

through a landscape that attempts to en-

buildings with large spaces between them

gage with the aspects of motion through

and parking lots, and in the distance larger

artistic installations, in this case, simply as

forms mark where the route meets the city.

a series of trees evenly spaced that become a geometric ‘forest’, that engages with the

00:51 – 01:15 As you approach the central

effect of ‘parallax’ though the lines of trees

waterfront the line of towers become more

aligning and miss-aligning as you move past

evident and mark the line of the city. Next,


in line with the new V&A proposal, Union Street pushes through the infrastructure


Figure 3.18_ Below - Sequence of view ‘snap shots’ from video entitled [......]. Video located on DVD in Appendix B To be read in direction of arrow.

00:16 – 00:32 Then you move down into

and makes a pedestrian connection with

a tunnel allowing for the landscape freely

the museum and the road lifts up to allow

flow above from Magdalen green, a land-

this street to move beneath and built form

scape that is perforated by light wells, to il-

comes close to the road itself. You then exit

luminate the ‘tunnel’ beneath and giving a

the over pass to go under the sweeping

sense of rhythm and connection to external

off ramps of the bridge before moving on

to the commuter.

through the city and continuing east.










Sketch Proposal - 25 - 02 - 2011

Conclusions While this sketch proposal begins to set out some of the primary themes, and in some cases forms, that will feature throughout the design process, there are other aspects that remain loose, and less convincing. In the development of this plan, tabula rasa allowed for some freedom to think freely, without realism constrictions, to start from the ideal situation, as a design project however, real situations and restrains give legitimacy to the scheme, and returning the rail tracks to existing location will do this. The buildings located along the waterfront itself appear very loose in their arrangement and are still in a very diagrammatic stage, as well as the landscaped area to the west, just after the airport on appreach to the city. These are two key areas within the plan that require further development.


Figure 3.17_ Plan - Stage of developent for Internal Unit review 25-02-2011 Original print size 2xA0 wide @ scale 1:2000


Diagram Development With the rail tracks back in their original location, immediately the diagram becomes more clear in its intent. See figure 3.18 The dense urban fabric of the city has its limits with its boundary north of the rail tracks and does not attempt to exceed this except for one instance where it spills over to meet the V&A on the waterfront. The area highlight in yellow will investigate urban sprawl through the Las Vegas model. While the zones west explore how a major road site in its landscape, one exposed, another hidden. Figure 3.18_ Plan Diagram - Zoneing of areas on waterfront and how city penetrates the infrastructure to meet the V&A

Dundee’s Urban Grain In the diagram to the right, figure 3.19, the urban grain of Dundee has been extended to the river’s edges, this may help in bringing some structure to areas of the plan where it lacks, and inform the setting out of the area north of rail tracks

Figure 3.19_ Plan Diagram - Urban Grain extended to river’s edge to give structure to proposals and massing.



Central Waterfront The Central waterfront area was looked at in more detail primarily though model at a scale of 1:500. In response to using the urban grain, some initial moves included the rotation of the Discovery ship onto the same axis as its surroundings and removing the oddly shaped Discovery Quay information centre adjacent to it. In addition, to strengthen the diagram whereby the city reaches across the infrastructure, the street has become more defined at the pedestrian level by extending building beneath the over-pass. The road way itself retains the diagram of the sprawl as it passes over the pedestrian level, with signage being able to populate roof areas of the builds and the line of towers to the north.

Over Pass In the images to far left, the over pass has be shown using a grey card, and appears ‘stodgy’ and suggests standard roadway aesthetics, however, in order for both the spaces around the road to be successful as well as enhancing the experience for the commuter on the road. Another take is required, in its conception I had imagined the over pass to be of elegant construction, allowing Union Street to freely move beneath and would not come in contact with any buildings.

Figure 3.20_ Central waterfront plan. As

Figure 3.21_ Central waterfront plan.

per first design review 25 - 02 - 2011

Revised plan using existing urban grain to give structure to layout

Figure 3.22_ 1:500 model - Central waterfront. View from

Figure 3.23_ 1:500 model - Central waterfront. Discovery

Figure 3.24_ 1:500 model - Overpass - Road space to re-

V&A along Union Street. A clear connection to city centre.

Ship realigned to fit with urban grain.

main defined by signage at this level


Figure 3.25_ 1:500 model - Overpass - A lightweight

Figure 3.26_ 1:500 model - Overpass - A lightweight

structure suspended above the buildings passing be-

structure suspended above the buildings passing be-



Figure 3.27_ Main page _ 1:500 Model - Central Waterfront


Development videos 2.0 – 2.2 In this series of videos a number of aspects are shown at their earlier stages. In development video 2.0, the urban grain of the Dundee has begun to be used to set out the buildings and landscaping on the strip as you approach the central waterfront as well as setting out the street lighting on the road itself where they becoming more densely spaced as you approach the city. In addition, two towers have been introduced to occupy the void spaces created by the road bridge. It is important to address this area as the road bridge itself is another key entrance and exit to the city, and building within these voids will give a dynamic quality as you move around them on the off ramps. The entrance and exit of city on the road bridge is shown in development videos 2.1 and 2.2

Figure 3.28_ Screen shot from development videos 2.0

Figure 3.29_ Screen shot from development videos 2.1

Figure 3.30_ Screen shot from development videos 2.2 Figure 3.31_ The urban Grain of the city is di-


vide into 4 to break down the scale of spaces.

Figure 3.32_ The Division of the grain by 4 extends to the

Figure 3.35_ Main image- 3-D render showing

scale of the pedestrian.

layout of buildings on waterfront strip

Waterfront Strip

Figure 3.33_ Collage - View from the road on approach to central waterfront.

Figure 3.34_ Collage - View from the road of waterfront strip.

Similarly to the central waterfront, the massing on the waterfront would begin to be developed using the urban grain of the city as a guide for setting out this landscape along the waterfront. The landscape will be populated by low rise buildings set back from the road with signage used to signify their function and presence. By using the Las Vega model along the waterfront, the road space will be defined by its roadside signage. See figure [3.31. At the same time as this, the waterfront serves a function as a promenade, not simply a retail park, therefore the landscaping must begin to reflect this along this waterfront. The urban grain was divided evenly into 4 to form workable areas. This was used to set out the buildings and larger areas of parking lots and soft landscape that vary along the length of the strip, areas and volumes perceivable by the car. Where there is landscaping, these areas were also sub divided to 4 and so on, this method translated the scale of the car (speedy) down to the scale of the person (slow) so that the same language of division and proportions are observed by both the pedestrian and commuter at different levels.


Playing fields and Magdalen green. The landscaped areas that stretches from the airport to the just after the railway bridge, is conceived as a series of interventions in the areas adjacent to the road that engage with the commuter primarily through sight, therefore, the primary means to investigate this was carried out though animation. Theoretically interventions could be located on the entire approach to Dundee, extending as far west as Invergowrie or further, because their perception if bound up with time of travel, distance is of little consequence, however, for this investigation, it will be limited to this area to allow for investigation into other aspects elsewhere in the scheme. In development videos 3.0 – 3.2 (see appendix B for DVD) these interventions begin to take shape into as is in figure 3.38 . Like the areas investigated previously, the landscaping here would be generated using the urban grain, and used to set out some of the features in the landscape, however, this was secondary how they would be perceived from the road.

Figure 3.36_ 1:500 model


Magdalen Green Bridges over rail tracks and connects with river. Bridges tunnels beneath new park area allowing for full pedestrian connection to river Figure 3.38_ Collage - internal view of tunnel @ Rail bridge

Figure 3.39_ Collage - internal view of tunnel, note light wells bring rhythm and connection to outside world.

Figure 3.40_ Collage - Pavilions blocks (can take any form) act as markers sit amongst a geometric ‘forest’ of columns and trees. Acoustic wall separating road and cycle/foot path - it engages with motion through its appearance changing as you move along site it

Figure 3.37_ View of Playing Fields and Magdalen Green

Figure 3.41_ Sense of encloser achieved through dense foliage before entering horizontal landscape punctured by vertical elements


Revised Sketch Proposal - 24 - 03 - 2011

Conclusions At this stage of development, the proposal is beginning to take shape. In particular, the central waterfront has become much more clear in its intent to connect with the V&A and public spaces around the discovery ship and union street by using the urban grain to give structure to the spaces, the same can also be said for Seabraes yards north of the rail tracks, with the urban density and grain connecting well back to the city. However, with reflection, the waterfront strip still appears fragmented by attempting to line up with the grain of the city, in this area the connection with the city is minimal and with its treatment as road with big spaces between the buildings, aligning with the cities grain has little or no consequence, so another approach is required. In the following pages this areas is revisited with the view of creating a unified waterfront strip, to tie together the scheme.


Figure 3.42_ Plan - Stage of development for Internal Review 24-03-2011 Original print size 2xA0 wide @ scale 1:2000


Revisiting the Waterfront strip - Studies

Single element stretching entire length of strip separating road and pedestrian waterfront promenade

Single element stretching entire length of strip with varying heights separating road and pedestrian waterfront promenade. Provides variation and rhythm for the view from the road.


Single waved element stretching entire length of strip separating road and pedestrian waterfront promenade creating a variety of sizes of space along lenght of waterfront

Single waved element stretching entire length of strip with varying heights separating road and pedestrian waterfront promenade. Provides some variation and rhythm for the view from the road, varying depths from the road allow for changing allowances for parking etc.


Single strip of buildings in close proximity, shifting closer and away form road along its length. Little variation in building type, with buildings closest to road larger and become markers on the length of the waterfront strip, programed as key commercial buildings. Remainder are smaller retail/commercial units between.

- buildings stepped away from roads change in accordance with program, residential buildings to occupy areas of Dundee’s waterfront.


- residential buildings reduced in size, variation in height along the length of strip more subtle. Key commercial buildings remaining key markers along the strip.

- Signage added in accordance with programming of retail units and key commercial strip. Signage defines the road edge and adds variation along the length of the strip.


Figure 3.43_ Plan - Waterfront Strip

Waterfront strip rules Group type A – key commercial building. Multi-story Hotel/Casino up to 7 levels, single story level extending to back. Large signage to front of building addressing the road Some car parting to the front of the building with majority located to the side Large sign may be located at the entrance of side road with large sign also located on building Group type B – Commercial building, retail development. Low rise decorated shed type, sign located perpendicular to road Approx area of retail unit 380m2, of which 50% is sales floor area, with requirement of 8 parking spaces for customers Group type C – Residential 3 story residential blocks, north – south orientation Typical single unit size 10m x 6m Figure 3.44_ Plan - Setting out parameters for development on the strip. With text adjacent expanding on requirement of program, building height etc.


Revisiting the Waterfront strip. The plan in figure 3.43 is the culmination of the series of studies that revisited the urban form of the waterfront strip as shown in the previous pages. In this plan, the urban form of the strip is made up of large, key commercial buildings of up to 7 stories that act as key markers on the strip. Between these key buildings are low rise retail/ commercial units along with a portion of residential buildings, each of which have certain parameters that they must adhere to. See figure 3.44. Through using these parameters, the spatial qualities have been explored further through models, figure 3.45 and 3.46, as well as animation, see development video 4.0 located on DVD in appendix B ( Screen shot of video in figure 3.47)

Figure 3.45_ Model - Scale 1:500 - Developed using parameter set out in figure 3.44

Figure 3.46_ Model - Scale 1:500 - Developed using parameter set out in figure 3.44

Figure 3.47_ Screen shot from development video 4 - View of waterfront strip from the road


A Landscaped waterfront In some respects, the plan shown in figure 3.43 has been successful and in others is has not. It has successfully shown that the main urban forms perceived by the commuter are the large key buildings on the plan, that address the road, defining its presence while in the spaces between these buildings, the signage plays a dominant role in defining place. The changing nature of the signage provides variation to the space as you move along the road. However, as the signage provides the dominant role in defining the space, the buildings that the signage is serving becomes recessive, in plan they are fragmented and appear out of place in the landscape promenade that they occupy. Can we use the successful aspects of this plan to create a simpler proposal for the area? If we retain the key buildings of this proposal and remove the fragmented buildings between, the space my now take on a wholly different form, and we can begin to think of the entire area as a unified landscape with key pavilions nestled within it. These buildings may not necessarily be small, as the term ‘pavilion’ sometimes suggests, they are buildings with key cultural significance nationally, taking on a waterfront location alongside the New V&A museum proposed on the waterfront, and express true architectural quality in whatever form it takes. The rivers edges is connected by a promenade, while the spaces immediately adjacent to the road is defined by the landscaping and sculptural intervention, this defines the edge of the road for the commuter while key buildings provide focal points.

Figure 3.48_ Plan Diagram - Unified landscape with pavilions to sit along side V&A in architectural quality and cultural significance.

Figure 3.49_ Plan Diagram - Pavilions in this landscape can be perceived from the road. Edge of road is defined by landscaping and sculptural intervention, to define edge of road in the same manner as signage does on the Las Vegas strip.


Figure 3.50_ Perspective view of waterfront strip


Dundee’s Waterfront Proposal - 24 - 04 - 2011


Figure 3.51_ Plan - Final proposal for Dundee’s Waterfront



Conclusion This thesis set out with the aim of finding an urban form that was in direct response to infrastructure that creates a meaningful experience for both the commuter and the pedestrian through a design project focused on the waterfront of Dundee. Through various stages of development of research into precedent, testing and design I arrived on an unexpected proposition. Did Las Vegas get it right? Translating the figure ground proposal of the Las Vegas strip montage on the waterfront into a working scheme for the area would go through multiple stages of development, and would address many more issues than I initially though. Working at master plan level required working at a scale I had previously never attempted and as a result developed my skills in breaking a site down into manageable areas while remaining focused on the bigger picture. The design project itself addresses many issues that range sequence and scale to massing, and context, as well as the relationship between infrastructure, urban form and landscape through a medium I had not used before – animation. As a design I feel the proposal achieves its intentions to unify the waterfront through a design proposal generated by infrastructure, to both the benefit of the commuter and the pedestrian. For me, this thesis has done more than developed my skills as a designer, it has provided me with an insight into the concept of designing for the commuter. Speedy space is often an overlooked aspect of the city and in many case it is considered a ‘problem’. Moving at speed in the city gives a unique perspective on the city and perhaps, looking at infrastructure as more than pieces of engineering, and recognising the unique opportunity for design will enrich our experience of the city further.



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Speedy Spaces  

Final Year Thesis exploring how the perception of motion and infrastructure can be used to Generate an urban form that has a meaningful expe...

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