Assemble among designers and architects set to transform Glasgow canal

A team of creatives including Assemble and Jason Bruges Studio will take part in Test Unit 2017, a project looking to turn derelict, industrial areas in Glasgow into public spaces.

Architectural group Assemble

Assemble and Jason Bruges Studio are among designers and architects working on a social regeneration project in Glasgow.

Test Unit 2017 will see architects, designers and the local community come together to transform part of the Glasgow Canal area, with an approach that aims to test out ideas in real-life environments rather than through “endless workshops and planning meetings”.

Last year’s Test Unit project in a post-industrial site in North Glasgow

The Test Unit initiative began last year as a way to change post-industrial city spaces through design. 2016 saw 30 teams from Glasgow, Dundee, Germany, France, Palestine and South Korea come together to turn a prior industrial site in North Glasgow into a public space with a café-bar, a public art installation and creative workshops.

Glasgow Canal was also previously an industrial space. In the 17th and 18th century, it was a key transportation hub for goods and passengers, and also housed factories and manufacturers in industries such as timber, glass, and textiles, alongside breweries and distilleries.

The canal fell into disuse and disrepair in the 20th century, when trains took over as the main form of transportation.

Test Unit 2017 is one of many projects looking to regenerate the area. Work began in 2001 with the £78 million Millenium Link initiative, starting restoration on the canal.

Light installation at York Minster cathedral, by Jason Bruges Studio

Designers and architects involved in Test Unit 2017 include previous Turner Prize-winning group Assemble, Glasgow-based practice Taktal, lighting and installation designers Jason Bruges Studio, alongside Baxendale, A Feral Studio and Valentina Karga. Each group will take a different approach, including space, lighting, building façade, and economic impact.

The initiative has been spearheaded by Taktal and research group Agile City. The various teams got involved following a call for participants.

Helen Teeling, co-director at Agile City, says: “Glasgow has a wealth of vacant buildings and sites following industrial decline.

“Over the last five years, there’s been a lot of discussion about the development of the Glasgow Canal area. We started Test Unit to activate these ideas and create live-learning opportunities through a week of collaborative work and events.”

Glasgow is the second major city in Scotland to be subject to regeneration through design. Dundee has just held its second ever Dundee Design Festival, and is set to open the V&A Dundee next year.

The live-build project runs for six days from 18 – 24 June, and will end with a two-day series of talks and workshops at Civic House, 26 Civic Street, Glasgow G4 9RH on 23 and 24 June. This is free for the public to attend.

The project has been financially supported by Creative Scotland, the Glasgow School of Art and other local organisations.

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