Dundee Civic Trust Student Awards 2021

The Civic Trust’s second annual Student Award, run in association with the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at Dundee University, gives recognition to three top students from the Department.

The winner of the Award is Evan McColl, who is a member of the Hilltown Collective – Sustainable Urban Community group. Evan produced an excellent, comprehensive and well-thought-out blueprint for transforming the Hilltown area.

After extensive research into the different critical elements operating against the Hilltown functioning as a ‘great space’, Evan’s work shows how the southern part of the district could be transformed into a fully formed neighbourhood. The vision comes complete with an urban farm and mixed-use core incorporating a number of uses. These include a library and café, residential units with workshops and gallery space, multi-generational housing, food hall, plaza area with outdoor seating, theatre and cinema. The plan also includes a pedestrian and cycle skyway link and envisages the roof spaces of the existing Dallfield multis being adapted to form roof gardens and games courts.

Evan’s submission also provides drawings and diagrams of environmental benefits, including a biomass boiler providing underfloor heating to public areas; air source heat pumps with underfloor heating for residential areas; photovoltaic arrays on roofs; and green walls providing vertical garden space within housing.

The runners up are Sean Noon, with an exciting design for a new central sports centre for the city; and Nguyenova Thao Vi, who envisaged extending the University campus towards the River Tay, with a new Library built partly over the water.

The entries were examined by a judging panel from Dundee Civic Trust. Our Chairman, Donald Gordon, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to support, encourage and reward the excellent work being done in the Department by our future architects and planners.  How the city will look in the years to come may depend to some extent on the learning and inspiration that they acquire as students.’

Cameron Wilson, the Head of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Dundee, commented: ‘The prize winners will be pleased and honoured to be announced as recipients of the Dundee Civic Trust Student Award. A “thank you” to the Civic Trust for your energies and continuing to support this award for our students.”

The awards will be presented to the students at a later date.

East End Eden

Details of the long-awaited proposals to bring the Eden Project to Dundee were revealed in the local press on 21 May. Following a feasibility study, the extensive site of the former gas works between East Dock Street and Broughty Ferry Road has been identified as the preferred location.

Two hundred years ago, this was where the waters of the Tay estuary met the shore below the eastern ‘sea braes’. The site affords much creative potential. Eden Project’s plans envisage a repurposed gasholder dominating the skyline, a massive walled garden and a bridge spanning East Dock Street and the railway, providing a link with City Quay.

The visitor experience will be organised around a series of nine ‘Guilds’, inviting alternative ways of perceiving the world. This is an echo of the city’s familiar Nine Incorporated Trades.

A memorandum of understanding has now been signed with the owners of the gas works site. After a further three to four months of design work, Eden Project Dundee intends to release further details.

Dundee Civic Trust has been very supportive of the plan to establish Scotland’s Eden Project in the city. We look forward to the development of this addition to our growing number of visitor attractions.


More Student Homes?

Proposal of Application Notices have been submitted to the council for two potential student housing developments. One of these is a proposal for demolition of the former West Ward Works on Guthrie Street to make way for purpose-built accommodation with ancillary facilities. The other set of plans would see conversion of the former Dundee College buildings on Constitution Road, which would seem a welcome solution for this prominent eyesore.

The Trust will be keeping an eye on the details of these proposals as they unfold.

Dundee Maritime Trail

Recently launched, Dundee’s new Maritime Trail has been the product of nine different bodies and individuals whose work has brought together Dundee’s connection with its maritime world. The trail covers a two kilometre route going east from the V&A.

There is a great (and still being developed) website which can be accessed here:


The website gives you detailed information on 21 parts of the trail as well as providing a downloadable map. It is very up to date, with information on the development at Waterfront Place, east of V&A Dundee, which is under construction.  It states, ‘The landscape has been designed to reflect coastal geography with dune-like landscaping leading down to an urban beach. A maritime themed interactive play park and a travel hub building with cycle hire will also be available.’

There are lots of links to other online resources and various videos so there is plenty to occupy you. Various historical photographs of the area may also be viewed, so you can see how things have changed over the years. This website is well worth a visit and the contributors are to be congratulated for producing another valuable resource for the city and the tourists visiting Dundee.


Esports Arena

We have heard that the architects who are taking part in the feasibility study for the proposed esports arena to the east of Slessor Gardens are no longer to be acting for the developers, Northern Lights Arena (NLA) Europe.

This is a setback, but it is to be hoped that the developers are sufficiently committed to make further progress with this exciting venture, which is so appropriate for Dundee.

Our Vision for Dundee

In a changing world, our cities will be very different places in twenty years’ time. Dundee Civic Trust has spent the last few months preparing its Vision for 2040.

We foresee the possibility of Dundee as a dynamic, compact city; a well-connected city both physically and digitally; a sustainable city pursuing net zero emissions; a learning city; a city with a clear identity that builds on its economic strengths and natural assets; and a city where people want to live, work, learn and visit.

Read the full document here.

Virtual AGM – better late than never!

The Civic Trust held its Annual General Meeting by Zoom on Thursday 19 November, eight months behind schedule due to the effects of the Covid crisis. It was a brisk, low-key event, which at least permitted us to conclude our business for 2019-2020 and move forward. We venture to hope it will not be too long before our normal format of a real meeting with guest speaker and refreshments may take place again.


Psychedelia Rules!

Union Street has had a temporary make-over. No traffic for most of the day, just pedestrians enjoying the pollution-free former thoroughfare, and relaxing in the outside seating areas.

It’s quite a change, brought about by the creation of outside seating areas which use the road space that has been created by stopping traffic access between the hours of 11am and 4pm.  Access, strictly for deliveries, is allowed for vehicles prior to 11am and after 4pm.

The funding for the changes has come from ‘Spaces for People’ through Sustrans Scotland and in partnership with Dundee City Council. The execution and design input came from the Dundee UNESCO City of Design team, led by Annie Marrs, and was the result of a collaboration and discussion with the businesses who operate in Union Street.

Interestingly, this project uses pedestrianisation to deliver what is hoped will be a stronger commercial environment rather than having safety and the removal of vehicles from a street as the desired results. Union Street, which is one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares from the main city centre bus stops down to the V&A, the RRS Discovery Point visitor centre and the railway station, is hoping to create a destination area in the city in its own right. This collaborative approach is to be welcomed, but care needs to be taken to ensure that there is a synergy between the business premises and their new environment.

The work has been carried out by local designers and makers and, as a result, rather than importing some off-the-peg street furniture, the funding has been largely spent in the local area. Good design always works best when it is the result of local considerations; and with the painting design already planned to have a limited life it is to be hoped that additional funding will be available to keep the project up to standard and perhaps take it to a different level. It is obvious that what works during Dundee’s sunny warm months may need to be adjusted to cope with the colder wetter months.

The original concept of High Street shopping was that the collective drawing power of the street’s retailing offer provided a strong attraction for shoppers. This imaginative approach to turn Union Street into a destination street seems to me to be a worthwhile experiment and the businesses who have largely been in support of the experiment are to be congratulated.

Article by Brian Cram for Newsflash 46 (September 2020)

Our Response to the Call for Ideas

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government held an open call for ideas, inviting views from organisations and individuals on what Scotland ought to look like in 2050 and the changes needed to get us there. All of the evidence collected will inform the position statement, to be published later in the autumn, and draft National Planning Framework (NPF4), which is scheduled for publication in autumn 2021.

The Trust’s response has been published online and may be viewed here:


Dundee Civic Trust Student Award

Two students from Dundee University have won a competition sponsored by Dundee Civic Trust. Run in association with the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, students submitted their fourth year projects for scrutiny by members of the Civic Trust board.

Dundee Civic Trust exists, among other aims, to encourage the best standards of design in architecture and town planning. It is therefore fitting that we should support and encourage young, talented students who are about to embark on their careers.  We are delighted to be associated with the University of Dundee in sponsoring the first of what will be an annual competition for students in Architecture and Urban Planning.

In this first year, the University selected a short list of four fourth year Architecture students who have submitted their year’s projects.  The judging panel was very impressed by the well argued, interesting and logical solutions that were proposed for urban problems, in Dundee and old Shanghai.

The winner is Calum Ramsay, with runner up Mishell Parodi.

The judging panel said, ‘Calum’s work was extremely professional, well-argued and very well presented. He added a personal voice as an outsider to his understanding of Shanghai. He made use of work from lectures to good effect and was able to incorporate his own findings into potential solutions for Shanghai’s problems of overcrowding.  Shanghai, like many cities, deals with old, unsanitary buildings by demolishing them and replacing them with high rise tower blocks at such high prices and rents such that the displaced community cannot afford to live there. Our local example in Dundee is similar, with the decanting of communities from the central areas. Calum’s solution for Shanghai was to create buildings of a more human scale with communal areas and green spaces where the displaced communities could return and function with their old familiar networks. It was a very interesting piece of work.’