Milngavie Town Centre
The Walking Town
Since 2018, Page\Park 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 Page\Park 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, completed in late 2018, has stimulated a wider programme of improvements in the town centre.
In 2020, Page\Park was asked to develop an expansion of the previous project, using seating and artwork to create a memorable moment in the public realm, shared by visitors and locals alike. Completed in late 2021, the result is a suite of furniture and wayfinding installations, over a newly re-paved area of the precinct.
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 both the West Highland Way and the Allander Way, the area is frequently busy with large groups of walkers and tourists, in addition to families visiting the adjacent play park. The project identified a need to provide new furniture typologies – beyond the traditional two-seater bench – 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, facing both inward and outward, 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, linking the project to the WHW artwork, completed across Douglas Street in 2018.
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. The map provides an easily understandable summary of the town and its key features and primary roads. On the ground, between the seating is embedded another map, placing Milngavie in a larger geographical context of rivers, canals, and walks.
In addition to improvements in the gathering area, the client and design team 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 can be arranged in different configurations depending on location.
The project recognises the important role the pedestrianised area of the town plays in gathering and directing locals and visitors alike, and a strategy has been developed for locating more of these units around the town, with the ambition of improving wayfinding, encouraging active travel, and sharing the history and stories of Milngavie through graphics and imagery.
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 walking routes north and south on the West Highland and Allander Ways respectively. 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.
Either side of the mural-map are located smaller corten artwork panels, integrated into a screen of timber posts. By the original red telephone box, an interpretive panel commemorates its designer Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and its fabrication in nearby Kirkintilloch. On the other side of map, a three-part design celebrates the river Allander, which leads onto the Kelvin Way and eventually into Glasgow.
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 relative to the Firth of Clyde in the west, Firth of Forth in the east, and Loch Lomond to the north, for example. 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.
“The Milngavie BID, having worked very successfully with Page\Park last year on an artwork project at the start of the West Highland Way, are delighted to be working with them again to further improve and enhance the public realm of Milngavie Town Centre. This new and exciting project, which will be themed around the amazing walking and cycling opportunities in the locale and beyond, has only been possible with help, encouragement and funding from East Dunbartonshire Council.”
Graeme Ross Milngavie BID Chair