Since 2018, PagePark have been working closely with Milngavie BID, a community organisation formed of stakeholders and representatives of local businesses, to strategise and deliver a series of incremental projects in Milngavie Town Centre.
This relationship began when PagePark was appointed to develop proposals for an artwork in Milngavie town centre, at the start of the WHW. The initiative was business-led, and the success of this first project has stimulated a wider programme of improvements in the town centre.
Central Gathering Area
Located at a key town centre node, the central part of the project is a new gathering area, formed of seating, planters, and interpretative elements. Located at the start of the West Highland Way, the area is frequently busy with large groups of walkers and tourists. The project identified a need to provide new furniture typologies and a focal point for these visitors to comfortably meet and interact.
The result is a bespoke seating area, capable of hosting larger groups, supplemented by new picnic tables by the play park entrance. The new bench seating is flexible and designed over two levels it provides valuable photo opportunities for tourists embarking on the walk. It is anchored in place by large planters, to soften the setting, and bounded on one side by a screen of wayfinding and graphics.
A monolithic mural-map in corten makes the gathering area immediately identifiable from a distance and reinforces its position as the centre of the town.
In addition to improvements in the gathering area, the client recognised the opportunity to sow the seeds for a wider programme of improved wayfinding around the town, to be delivered as future phases. This resulted in the design and installation of a prototype furniture piece on Station Road. The prototype is modular in design – comprising a corten and timber bench, wayfinding panel, and planter – and be arranged in different configurations depending on location.
The project incorporates artwork and interpretation throughout all its elements, most prominently in the mural-map, but also in several corten screens, the prototype unit, and through a large slate and bronze artwork embedded in the paving of the gathering area.
Standing three metres high, the mural-map presents a simplified summary of Milngavie’s key features and attractions – including the Reservoirs, Mugdock Park, and key walking routes. The artwork was developed with the client over several iterations, before being fabricated in corten steel. It has a backing panel to ensure legibility, and a raised brass marker, identifying its position in the town.
On the paving of the central gathering area is a large artwork depicting the lochs, rivers, and tributaries running through and around Milngavie, and the wider Scottish lowlands. The design is orientated on a north-point, so that visitors might understand where Milngavie is located. Significant towns and cities are marked by cast bronze disks inset into the paving, with a particular nod to Kirkintilloch and its Lion Foundry, where the nearby red telephone box was made.
Supporting StatementThe whole community and businesses in Milngavie are really pleased with the latest precinct developments in the town centre. That’s the feedback that business owners and the Milngavie Business Improvement District (BID) team have been receiving since the Community Hub project was completed in November 2021.
Feedback about the whole process undertaken by PagePark has really impressed all groups represented in Milngavie, from their initial engagement about the ideas and proposals for the precinct and listening to the public’s feedback to ensure all the community felt involved in the project.
Overcoming challenges such as moving Magnus Magnussen’s bench; working with the owners of the telephone box, Milngavie in Bloom; and excellent communications with local people about the children’s play park not being affected, all added to full local backing for the project.
Over 300 local people responded to the survey that the Milngavie BID published on Milngavie.co.uk and their social media channels to reach residents and businesses. PagePark presentations to the Milngavie Umbrella Group (MUG) with a representative from many community groups allowed an opportunity for in-depth feedback from important Milngavie stakeholders.
Adaptations to early designs based on feedback, was really appreciated by the community that the designs were not a fait accompli and local engagement being a tick box exercise.
Following completion and opening to the public, the day-to-day use of the space by people meeting for al fresco coffee or sitting in the space while watching children in the play park, speak for themselves.
For the West Highland Way walkers, who start their journey in Milngavie a memorable sense of occasion has been developed. From the moment they get off the train and walk through the precinct, there is a welcoming environment on the short walk from the station to the official start of the West highland Way.
All 40,000 walkers (per annum) certainly know they have arrived at the start and first impressions of Milngavie have been immensely improved. The 96 mile walk for many people is a memorable life event and every walker spends considerable time taking photographs to send to their family and friends across the world.
The development also highlights that Milngavie is the start and finish of many walks in the region and much more than just the start of the West Highland Way. The hub is also becoming a natural meeting point for walkers and local people to spend time before spending an active day out walking.
It is now an integral part of the Milngavie landscape for current and future generations to enjoy. The modular approach to the seating and planting pods around the town also provide future opportunities to expand the consistent and modern look beyond the current precinct. This will be welcomed by the local community in Milngavie.