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Govan Urban Regeneration Workshop

posted Jan 19, 2010, 2:43 PM by Claus Zapffe   [ updated Mar 19, 2010, 11:30 AM ]
8 - 12 March 2010 
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK 
Organizing partner: University of Strathclyde 
Funding framework: EDUAC 

Participation is FREE of charge. Participants have to cover their own travel, accommodation and subsistence costs. Please contact Claus Zapffe at or (+47) 91 114 117 for more information and registration.

Workshop description by the University of Strathclyde:

Dear all,

First of all let us welcome you to this ESUA joint experience of collaboration – an international workshop in Urban Design based at the Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

The Course of Urban Design of which this workshop is part is a fairly new one; it was launched in 2006-7 and since then it has every year slightly improved its structure to the current format which you can view fully in the Course Handbook attached. At Strathclyde, we have a mixed cohort of students taking part to this course: we have 5th year architects, planners, social scientists, geographers .. Bringing to the table different disciplines and skills, they work in truly multidisciplinary fashion, learning to negotiate an exchange expertise. 

Overall, the main thrust of the course is to provide students the theoretical arguments and the practical tools to plan, design and deliver environments capable of responding to today challenges of identity, flexibility, use of limited resources, sustainable development. In doing so, we take an angle closely linked to the research work of the Urban design Studies Unit, focussing in particular on the concepts of time conscious urban design, the essential structure of places and urban coding. The papers included in the documentation for the workshop give you an overall view of these principles.

With students, we try and deliver these objectives through lectures and design work in places which each year Glasgow City Council asks us to study. This year the place is Govan.

Govan is a large area to the South of the River Clyde, a former node in Glasgow’s economy due to its strong naval industry, has over the past decades turned into a district affected by a number of economic, social and structural problems. It nevertheless retains a very strong identity and characteristic, albeit fragmented, urban fabric. Its central location and the River Clyde make it a very important strategic site for Glasgow as a whole. Govan embodies all the challenges of a post industrial city needing significant transformation and coordinated action.

Govan has many challenges ahead: large undeveloped areas which need reintegration into the main urban fabric; social housing estates currently being demolished, upgraded or simply awaiting ideas; large roads and new manufacture districts which severe the district in unconnected patches; the riverfront on river Clyde is still detached and scarcely accessible from  inner neighbourhoods; the old historical centre is marginal to the rest of the district.

At the same time, it is a district full of potentials: it is served by two underground stations; has significant amounts of available land and its riverfront is close to major regeneration projects such as the Science Centre and the new Museum of Transport.


The programme is intense and is broadly articulated into four phases:

1.      Case analysis. students work in groups on Govan, getting to know intimately this area, its links potentials and pitfalls (Studio 1a);

2.      Urban Design Strategy. In Groups, students propose a Strategic Plan and a Concept Plan, together forming the Urban Design Strategy, for the improvement of this area envisaging actions and projects that deal with services, mobility, housing, and public realm provision (Studio 1b);

3.      Block analysis and coding. Students are then requested to work out a complete morphological analysis of urban blocks which are representative of the residential typologies in Glasgow, and to study International examples of Form Based Coding. Through the combination of these two studies, students and staff derive a Local Urban Code for the development of Govan, to be used in the following masterplanning and design phases.  (Studio 1c).

4.      Masterplanning and place design. Students move then, individually, to the production of a Masterplan for sub-areas of Govan district. They address issues such as the implementation of permeability of the area, subdivision of large blocks, the correct management of density as related to transport and land use, how to design safe and livable streets and how to modify the existent urban fabric of public and private buildings in relation to streets, land uses, density and transport. Finally, they are asked to deepen their Masterplan and coding by developing the design of streets and buildings in a small part of it (Studio 2). It is this very phase which is the subject of the ESUA Design Workshop.


The intention of this Workshop is to demonstrate that the roles of architects and urban designers are both essential and complementary in the delivery of good urban spaces, but it is only through a clear understanding of the structure of our cities that they can both succeed in their work. The analysis of the city is therefore a pre-requisite for successful urban and architectural design, and should be followed by the definition of those structural elements which are responsible for the underlying essential quality of place, what we call Evidence-Based FBC (EB_FBC). On this premises, in the workshop, Strathclyde students will move role from urban designers to architects, and ESUA students will play the part of the architects tasked with the delivery of a masterplan on the basis of set instructions (EB_FBC).

This phase in particular aims at generating identity and character independently of the stylistic approach adopted. EB_FBC deal in fact with the structure of spaces, not their final architectural configuration, which is left to the work of inhabitants, architects and other stakeholders. Urban designers’ work should never have to do with architectural language and stylistic choices, and should leave the largest possible space to personal arrangements and adaptation in time. This concept is tested in the Workshop by making students develop proposals under the tutorship of two prominent exponents of opposite architectural schools: the neo-classical Robert Adam and the late-modernist Gordon Murray.

The Strathclyde Students will have completed, by the arrival of the ESUA students, Phases 1 and 3.

To allow the ESUA students get a good overview of the work to date, we enclose here a number of documents:

1.      The Course Handbook;

2.      The detailed Design Briefs that our students have followed to complete Phases 1-3.

3.      The Outcomes of Phases 1 and 2 (Analysis and strategies), with all group work collected for consultation;

4.      The Students draft masterplans (these are currently being completed, so their final version will be available during the workshop);

5.      The Local Urban Code to be followed during the Workshop.

During the workshop, teams of students will design in details portions of the Strathclyde masterplans, using the Local Urban Code.

Workshop programme

08.03.10 – 12.03.10

Design Workshop – Govan

This workshop is funded by ESUA and is one of the events organised as part of their European Interdisciplinary course in Architecture and Urbanism.

The workshop focuses on Form Based Design Codes, and aims to illustrate their value in urban development. In particular, it will engage students in the detailed design of the built environment following previously developed Design Codes, under the tutorship of two renowned architects (Gordon Murray and Robert Adam), to demonstrate that well planned urban structure should be able to produce good environments independently from style.

This workshop is part of the MSc in UD and the MArch in Advanced Architectural Design courses of the University of Strathclyde.


ESUA Team arrives and settle in accommodation.


ESUA meeting


[Material required from students: sketching material, digital cameras]

9.30-11.30       Lecture: Michael Mehaffy opens the Workshop

In Studio. Strathclyde and EU students. Strathclyde students show and explain work done to date.

Students form teams: roughly 2/3 Strathclyde students, 1 ESUA student per team.

Each team works on one masterplan; Strathclyde students to pair according to their masterplan area.

11.30- 15.30    Site visit in teams

15.30               In studio. Teams agree detailed projects. Each project to include at least 2 blocks across a public space/street. Each team can select more than one project if team members decide to pair up in smaller teams.

Design work starts. Teams to produce brief for design project by 17.00 and initial massing diagrams. 



[Material: drawing material, model making material and digital cameras]

All work to be done at scales: 1:500 for concepts, 1:200, 1:100 and 1:50 details if necessary for schemes.

9.00                 In studio. Works resumes.

Teams are divided in 2; one works with Gordon Murray, one with Robert Adam.

Gordon Murray and Robert Adam work as design tutors.

9.30-10.30.      Lecture: Gordon Murray and Robert Adam make short presentations of their architectural approaches.

10:30               Robert Adam Team and Gordon Murray Team meet separately. Student groups present their briefs/massing and progress in general to Gordon Murray and Robert Adam.

11.00.              Tutored design work starts officially – teams work under Gordon Murray and Robert Adam’s guidance.

15:00.              Gordon Murray and Robert Adam conclude Day 1 tutorials, students carry on working.


[material: drawing material, model making material and digital cameras]

9.30                 In Studio. Works resumes.

Students work in the morning by themselves.

13.00 - 17:00   Design tutorials with Gordon Murray and Robert Adam.

Teaching Team (Michael Mehaffy, Sergio Porta, Ombretta Romice and tutors): comment, feedback, reflection, documentation of process, and design tutoring.



[material: drawing material, model making material and digital cameras]

9.30                 In Studio. Works resumes.

Students work in the morning by themselves.

12.00-16:00     Design tutorials with Gordon Murray and Robert Adam.

Design projects to be completed by later afternoon.

Evening/Night to complete final drawings and models.

Teaching Team (Michael Mehaffy, Sergio Porta, Ombretta Romice and tutors): comment, feedback, reflection, documentation of process, and design tutoring.



9:00.                Students’ work exhibition mounted and completed.

Design review panel and open discussion chaired by Michael Mehaffy.

13:00               Conclusion and documentation of final work.

Draft masterplan