The following report was originally created for the Spanish Landscape Architecture Magazine ‘Paisea’. A PDF version of the report can be found here.
Raploch was an infamous peripheral housing estate in Stirling built by Stirling Council between 1919 and 1959 but laterly plagued by social problems and deprivation. It sits adjacent to the River Forth in a landscape made famous by ‘Braveheart’ himself, William Wallace. It is overlooked by Stirling Castle, which is one of Scotland’s premier tourist attractions.
In an attempt to alleviate the social problems, Raploch is currently being regenerated by the Raploch Urban Regeneration Company. The exemplary nature of the regeneration process to date has been recognised by the Scottish Government who have named Raploch as one of the twelve Scottish Sustainable Communities nationally. However, the re-building of the community has ground to a halt due to the global economic downturn. Raploch currently has seven large gap sites where houses once stood. Using vacant land productively until an economic upturn is an important issue at a national level and is what the ‘Green Arena’ project is concerned with; it will establish a series of temporary landscapes between demolition and construction phases. These temporary spaces will allow the community to test and explore a range of public life and outdoor opportunities through ecology, public art and community participation processes.
The Green Arena will be a temporary fluid, working piece of living landscape ecology based on a low cost model of differing grassland, meadow and earthworks typologies which will act as a landscape framework or structure. Into this framework differing outdoor and public life opportunities will be created and used by the community, facilitated by an artist. The key aim of the project is to establish a relationship between people and place and to express the meaning of the land now and in the future. It hopes to encourage a new direction in the future masterplan. Specific inspiration has been taken from the ‘King’s Knot’ a 17thC royal garden, the remains of which are still visible from Stirling Castle.
Although the temporary spaces will largely disappear when the sites are developed, their legacy will carry on in both the newly adapted form of the masterplan and more importantly in the memory of the community who created them. The legacy of the project may eventually be seen as how derelict land can be used as a positive resource for communities in the regeneration process.