Finalists announced for Aberdeen’s City Garden international design competition

The announcement of the finalists of the International Design Competition for Aberdeen’s City Garden Project was revealed today. The six finalists have been selected to go on to the second stage of the competition after a unanimous vote by the jury panel. Over 55 submissions were received from across the world with many opting to partner with UK design firms.

The finalists are:
• Diller Scofidio and Renfro (New York) / Keppie Design (Glasgow) working in association with landscape architect Olin Studio.
• Foster + Partners (London) / Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture (Beirut) working in association with cost and construction consultant Gardiner & Theobald
• Snøhetta (Oslo) / Gareth Hoskins Architects (Glasgow) working in association with engineering and multi-discipline company AECOM
• Gustafson Porter (London) / Niall McLaughlin Architects (London) working with urban analyst Space Syntax, engineer Arup and cost adviser Jackson Coles
• Mecanoo Architecten (Delft, Netherlands) / Cooper Cromar (Glasgow) working in association with landscape architect Ian White, engineer Buro Happold and cost adviser Davis Langdon (AECOM).
• West 8 urban design & landscape architecture (Rotterdam, Netherlands) / Archial Group (Aberdeen) working in association with engineer Arup and cost and construction consultant Turner & Townsend

The £140m City Garden Project will radically transform a strategic central location, raising the nineteenth-century Union Terrace Gardens and covering over the unattractive Denburn dual carriageway and railway line.

Sir Duncan Rice, former principal of the University of Aberdeen who chaired the jury panel, said: “That the competition attracted high-level interest from around the world is a great compliment to Aberdeen City and Shire. The jury agreed unanimously on the six finalists and is excited about the potential of their visions for the City Gardens Project.” The jury was extremely impressed with the creative minds and cuttingedge designs from previous projects that the teams had delivered. What made a particular impact on the jurors was the way in which many of the finalists addressed the garden and landscaping aspects of the project. They are now excited about the strengths and qualities each will bring to creating a vision for the City Gardens Project that embraces Aberdeen’s success and international status. Charles Landry, a cities’ guru on urban regeneration, and one of the jury panel said: “What was very notable about the finalists is that they are already actively involved in tackling similar challenges to those posed by the City Garden project, and their submissions had drawn inspiration from the issues in Aberdeen. Many of the innovative projects that they have achieved in other places have not only captured the world’s eye and admiration but become much-loved and a source of pride for the respective local communities.

The jury panel included: the deputy leader of Aberdeen City Council, John Stewart; Sir Ian Wood, Wood Family Trust ,Tom Smith, chairman of ACSEF; cities’ guru on urban regeneration, Charles Landry; Lavina Massie, former chair of both Aberdeen Civic Forum and the Aberdeen City Alliance; and Malcolm Reading, architect and heritage expert. The finalists’ announcement concludes the competition’s first phase which was aimed at attracting technically competent and professional teams from all over the world to register their interest in the project.

As part of the second stage of the competition, the short-listed teams will be issued with a comprehensive brief and asked to produce a concept design. They will also be invited to a briefing session in Aberdeen.
Concept design submissions will be made in September, following a concentrated eight-week design programme for the teams. This will be followed by a public exhibition of the six shortlisted designs at the end of September in Aberdeen.

Competition is being organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants.

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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at