LDA likely to succeed where Diller Scofidio & Renfro failed
LDA’s £22m plans to transform Aberdeen’s Union Terrace Gardens are set to win detailed planning approval this week – a decade after Brisac Gonzalez’s ill-fated arts centre won consent.
If councillors give the go-ahead to LDA’s project it would bring to an end years of controversy that have dogged the future of the Victorian sunken gardens.
Brisac Gonzalez’s £13 million visual arts building for Peacock Visual Arts and the council won planning in 2008 – but was canned a year later after local oil magnate Ian Wood stepped forward with more ambitious proposals for the city centre site.
After an international design contest featuring Fosters, Gareth Hoskins, Niall McLaughlin and Mecanoo, Diller Scofidio & Renfro was appointed to create a £140m “granite web” that would have raised the gardens to street level.
The proposal sparked a huge storm among residents of the granite city, with Aberdeen-born singer Annie Lennox dubbing it “another dog’s dinner of crap concrete development, ravaging the only authentic, historical green space in the city centre”.
It was narrowly backed by the public in a referendum but eventually dropped after a knife-edge vote by the planning committee in 2012.
LDA’s scheme includes three new buildings, a new entrance plaza, three raised walkways, lift access from street level, a “halo” lighting feature and an amphitheatre, as well as turning the Victorian toilets into a café.
Planning officers have recommended councillors to approve the detailed plans when they meet on Thursday. Outline approval was granted a year ago.