The following blog is a journey along an imaginary urban design / architectural project and for best understanding, reading in chronological order is recommended.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Population figures

We have already looked at how Govan has grown in terms of number of buildings and infrastructure in my earlier post ground figure plans but what about population. By collating census information we can now show you the growth of popoulation within Govan in relation to Glasgow in the graphs below.

We can see that Govan at its peak had a population of approx 90 thousand residents which has declined to approx 20 thousand by 1999. The growth was due to the impact of the industrial revolution and was population shift from rural areas to the rapidly growing cities. Families were generally larger and housing conditions were cramped with many sharing houses to keep rent low or until more housing stock became available. There is an absense of information between 1903 and 1971 so when the decline in Govan's population commenced, we can only make an assumption based upon the Glasgow graph that it probably occured after the 2nd world war. Many lost their lives during the war, much housing was reduced to rubble during the blitz and children were evacuated to the safety of rural areas. After the war, buying rather than renting your property became fashionable. More people chose to live in suburbs rather than city urban areas. Car ownership increased and the distance from home to work increased. Some urban areas became undesirable and bulldozed to the ground being replaced by new tower blocks for living in the sky. When the major industries (eg. Shipbuilding) employing the masses began to close, people had to move to find new work. So there are many factors and reasons why areas like Govan have had a decrease in population.

Of the 20 thousand who still live in the area, what keeps them there or attracts them? Govan still has good transport links to Glasgow city centre and so is a relatively short commute but it is worth noting that in the graph below, unemployment during the 90's were higher than that of the Glasgow average. It's maybe because of this that during the early 90's there was a Scottish TV comedy programme called 'Rab C Nesbitt' which was about an unemployed alchoholic character who lived in Govan. While it was a big hit, it probably was not a fair reflection on Govan and certainly didn't help to attract new inhabitants.


So what is a node?
In urban design terms, it is somewhere or something that pulls your attention towards it. It may be a destination or some sort of interchange.

Examples of destination nodes in Govan are highlighted in the diagram below. These include shops, churches, bingo hall, pubs at Govan Cross, bus and underground stations, library, football stadium (Rangers FC), shops along Paisley Road West, Asda and Toys R Us retail area, Elder Park, Kinning Park Festival Park, Cinema, restaurants, bowling alleys and bingo at Springfield Quay and since this drawing was produced there is now the Science Centre, Imax Cinema and millennium tower at Pacific Quay.

Examples of interchange nodes in Govan that are highlighted below include the gateways when it becomes apparent that you are entering the area. Other forms of interchange include changing from the underground to the bus transport system.

Some of the nodes listed above includes public spaces. Public spaces can be either soft spaces or hard spaces. Soft spaces are often grass and relaxed i.e. parks, while hard spaces are often paved and processional i.e. leading to a church. The diagram below highlights examples of soft and hard public spaces in Govan.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Walk of Senses

When you walk along a particular route, road, street or path what triggers your senses and how do these make you feel?

Our senses include sight, sound, smell and touch. Landmarks for example can trigger our visual senses while busy roads can trigger sound and even smell. A landmark can catch your eye from a distance and as you walk closer to it, the details on the landmark become clearer and further enhances your visual senses over a period of time as your viewing angle changes. It's important to note that each individuals senses are unique to them as some have better eyesight than others while others may be simply more observant. Analysing how our senses are triggered can therefore becomes a personal observation. While at University, my fellow student Pete and I developed an analytical study called the 'Walk of Senses Analysis'. It concentrated more on the visual senses as sound and smell can vary greatly depending on time of day or wind direction.

The method we undertook was to walk along a common route and note any point or area of interest that visually triggered our senses. These places of interest would then be mapped out and the distance between them calculated. We felt that our visual senses could only be truly triggered from a maximum distance of approx 200m to 250m from a place of interest, beyond which it is too far away and our eyes will be distracted towards other things.

In my opinion, when you have situations where visual interests are greater than 200m apart, the walk can appear slow, dull and boring in comparison to when they are closer together.
This is an important aspect to consider in urban design because we want to encourage more people to walk and cycle rather than always revert to their cars. An interesting walk will most likely be repeated creating more active streets which in turn creates a greater community feel. Also the more who walk, the less cars and therefore less pollution. It all sounds too simple but surely it's a start.

The following images are Pete and my observations from 5 different paths which we walked in Govan.

The analysis highlighted that places like Govan cross (shops etc) are visually rich with their buildings inherited from a bygone era, while there are many other areas which due to decline have become empty of visual interest.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Diagram to show the main vehicular traffic routes and railway network of Glasgow and the location of Govan in relation.

Diagram to show the main vehicular traffic routes and underground rail network of Govan.

Diagram to show the vehicular permeability of Govan.

Diagram to show the pedestrian permeability of Govan.

Diagram to show barriers which reduce the vehicular permeability of Govan.

Diagram to show barriers which reduce the pedestrian permeability of Govan.

Diagram to show the extent of Govan served by rail and underground network within an average persons 10 minutes walk.

Diagram to show the extent of Govan served by bus routes.