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How UNESCO City of Design and Service Design Academy empowered Dundee’s communities to create Spaces for People.

Photography © Mhairi Edwards

Dundee is the UK’s first and only UNESCO City of Design.  The global designation as a Creative City acknowledges Dundee’s rich design heritage, it’s thriving contemporary design sector and a city committed to using design to solve problems and make Dundee a better place to live.

Dundee has a strong tradition of embracing the power of design and designers hold an essential place in the life of the city. The programmes run by the UNESCO City of Design Team celebrate and demonstrate the impact of design, embrace co-design, promote talent, engage designers in decision making and collaborate with other Cities of Design.

As a longstanding learning partner of UNESCO City of Design, the Service Design Academy has the mission to teach service design at a world class standard by facilitating creativity and collaboration accessible to everyone.

Funding was made available for several projects in Dundee under the Spaces for People programme that aims to create redesigned streets with more room for physical distancing, walking, and spending time in. The Spaces for People programme is funded by the Scottish Government and managed by Sustrans Scotland.

By providing this additional funding, Spaces for People has allowed local authorities, transport partnerships and NHS Trusts to implement measures focused on protecting public health, supporting physical distancing, and reducing transmission rates.

UNESCO City of Design wanted to ensure that voices were heard across the specific communities benefitting from the Spaces for People programme and knew that the Service Design Academy’s experience in participative community engagement would help them take the best approach.

The Service Design Academy facilitated a series of online workshops and discussions with Dundee’s UNESCO City of Design team and community representatives to identify and co-design community led ideas to meet these measures while meeting the needs and wants of citizens.

In workshops held for the Stobswell area, two streets were identified as places which could become spaces focused around people. Priorities raised by the community workshops which have been incorporated into the proposals include:

+ Using plants to screen areas from traffic noise

+ Providing an opportunity to enhance biodiversity in Stobswell

+ A desire to see more colour and vibrancy in the areas around Albert Street

+ More greenery and opportunities for planting/growing

+ Better quality outdoor spaces for people without access to gardens

+ Maintaining access for emergency vehicles

The UNESCO team took on board the communities’ priorities and suggestions and these images show the resulting design.

It is intended that these new spaces will be completed by the end of May 2021, the revamped streets are initially temporary and designed as a trial. Over the summer the Stobswell Forum, Sustrans and Dundee City Council will gather feedback to inform future decisions.

Eliza Street

THE DESIGN

These images give a feel of the pocket parks layout and the way that seating and planters will be clustered. The materials are concrete and Siberian larch which will be left natural and silver over time. Gaps in the wood will provide natural drainage and the design limits areas for litter to accumulate.

Dundee designer Louise Kirby has worked to incorporate patterns seen around Stobswell into the design for the art work. Shapes from iron railings around Baxter Park, the roof of Morgan Academy and the zig-zag from the sculpture at the bottom of Albert Street.

 

The planting scheme has been chosen to sup- port biodiversity as well as to respond well to the shady site and need for minimal maintenance.

There will be no vehicle entry to this section of Eliza Street, parking spaces will be removed.

The addition of dropped kerbs is also being addressed to improve access in and out of the park area.

This plan drawing shows the proposed positioning of the artwork and the various planters and seating areas for Eliza Street.

The layout has been specifically designed to allow access for all emergency vehicles including the largest type of fire appliance.

 

It has also been designed to support physical distancing with the space between planters and seating at 2 metres.

As part of the next stage, we will mark up the positioning of the planters on the street. This will allow residents to see the exact positioning.

Craigie Street

THE DESIGN

These images give a feel of the pocket parks layout and the way that seating and planters will be clustered. The materials are concrete and Siberian larch which will be left natural and silver over time. Gaps in the wood will provide natural drainage and the design limits areas for litter to accumulate.

Dundee designer Louise Kirby has been inspired by the circle brick work design on the gable end at Craigie Street. The circles on the street are positioned to remind people of the 2 metre physical distancing.

The planting scheme has been chosen to support biodiversity as well as to respond well to the shady site and need for minimal maintenance.

 

There will be no vehicle entry to this section of Craigie Street. Parking bays will be removed and the road will be closed beyond the entry to the car park.

The addition of dropped kerbs is also being addressed to improve access in and out of the park area.

This plan drawing shows the proposed positioning of the artwork and the various planters and seating areas for Eliza Street.

The layout has been specifically designed to allow access for all emergency vehicles including the largest type of fire appliance.

 

It has also been designed to support physical distancing with the space between planters and seating at 2 metres.

As part of our next stage, we will mark up the positioning of the planters on the street. This will allow residents to see the exact positioning.

Lead Consultant Katie Murrie shares her enthusiasm for Service Design Academy’s role in Spaces for People: “The team of consultants can’t wait to see the areas when they are finished and to hear the feedback from the community, we truly hope it will have the same positive impact as another project we worked on with the UNESCO Team in summer 2020, the pedestrianisation of Dundee’s Union Street which has been revamped after a successful pilot saw it closed to vehicles.”

 

From this pilot project in the summer 2020,  Dundee City Council has had very positive feedback with the changes made to Union Street proving popular with locals and traders, As lockdown eases in late April 2021 and shops and hospitality opens, the street designs by Callum Laird have had a fresh coat of paint, some minor repairs and new planting for the spring and summer months.

 

Mark Flynn, convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee, said: “All the indications are that the changes made to Union Street are welcome and despite some initial scepticism, businesses and customers like what has been done. So much so that the temporary street art, signage and annual planting will be brightened up for what we hope will be a bumper spring and summer where locals and visitors have more time and space to use the shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.”

 

Katie from Service Design Academy adds, “The Service Design Academy feels privileged to partner with UNESCO to take a participative approach in our facilitation of Spaces for People. We’ve been thrilled with the level of engagement in the workshops from local people, and hearing their voices has ensured that they are actively participating in the future of their communities”.

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