Unlocking the Quayside Competition
Berwick-upon-Tweed Community Trust
A Recipe for Renewal
Building on our experiential masterplan methodology at Pollok Park, our approach to the re-development of Berwick-upon-Tweeds quayside was to create a popular tourist destination with culture at the heart. Through our research of the town we found out that L.S. Lowry, the notable English artist famed for his industrial scenes of North- West England, took holidays in Berwick during the 1930s. We wanted to embed the existing Lowry Trail in our design approach and thinking and use this to mould the architectural quality of the quayside. Our approach was to formulate an urban recipe, exploring the ingredients required to make Berwick-upon-Tweed a destination. As with all recipes some of the ingredients existed within the towns heritage and built assets and others needed to be added.
The site identified in the brief was an important asset for the town for several reasons:
- It has a high historical value.
- It is located in the Berwick-upon-Tweed conservation area.
- It is surrounded by important landmarks and monuments.
- It sits near the existing and popular Lowry Trail.
- It is located only 200m away from the Town Hall, in the heart of the town.
- It is overlooking the River Tweed.
Our proposal was to create a high-quality public realm, which is safe and inviting, an attractive place to be in and spend time. More importantly, by improving the existing routes, the development will help connect the town with the riverside.
Our first ingredient was to use sculpture as a means of communicating the town’s rich history.
During his holidays in Berwick, L.S. Lowry painted several delightful scenes that capture the spirit of the town centre and its coast.
Our proposal was that we could translate these scenes, peppered with Lowry’s iconic figures, into sculpture. A dense collection of figures, a trademark of Lowry’s work, might launch a route along the quay that finishes with a larger figure at the farthest point, looking out towards the lighthouse Lowry himself painted.
There might also be an opportunity to link with the existing Lowry trail, and connect at either end with the walk along the upper stone quay wall.
High-quality food shacks and pop-up culinary experiences act as magnets on the site.
Through our observation and reserach in other coastal towns, such as Oban, Tobermoray, and Portstewart, the model of operating a high-quality food outlet from modest accommodation has been very successful. Positive word-of-mouth and a quality offer have generated strong publicity and awards recognition.
On a waterfront site like this, we speculate that something similar would have a magnetic effect, drawing visitors from the town centre to strategic points on the site. Shacks might offer seafood, ice-cream, or coffees, and act has starting points for a walk along the quay.
With a steady visitor base established, the quay could host larger events, or expand into more varied forms of entertainment.
Quaysides, seasides, boardwalks, and wharfs are all historic centres of family entertainment. With a steady number of visitors attracted by the food offers and sculptures, a flexible building or structure at the heart of the site might support festivals, concerts, markets or pop-up events. A programme of events might be developed for the year, drawing visitors from a wider geographic area.
Finally, it is important that value is added to the site, to support its long term viability.
There are numerous ways that ‘value’ can be added to this site – whether in the form of public buildings, residential, or retail.
Our experience of working on projects that have blended and mixed these uses, safeguarding the long-term future of sites that were disused or underdeveloped is critical to the long-term viability. In our experience, appropriate consideration of development opportunities on the site can support flexible uses in other areas.