Botanic Concrete is a ‘potential lab’ set up by CCA that works with the users and residents of Garnethill. It aims to find out what the community wants from their area and how they feel about local issues. Working creatively and with an alternative approach, it tries to find ways of sharing and developing knowledge of this area. It works with all parts of the community – people from all cultures, ages and backgrounds – to create a truly democratic understanding of the needs and desires of the people. This includes families living in the area, the Chinese community, students of GSA and pupils from local nurseries and schools, as well as asylum seekers and refugees – a vibrant community in transit who are also users of Garnethill.
The project seeks to re-empower citizens, giving ownership to the community over their shared environment in a way that could challenge traditional ways of city-planning. In order to do this conducted local research, starting with a mapping of the neighbourhood to create an image of peoples’ current needs, wishes and problems. We could discuss things like regeneration, social housing, or the state of local amenities. The residents and users of the area produced this research, alongside local institutions, organisations and businesses.
After the remapping, a series of workshops for the re-imagination of the area has been organised by the participants, with facilitators working in different fields. We aim to question and influence traditional city-planning by challenging techniques used by more dominant and centralised institutions.
Our hope is to reconnect to Garnethill and stimulate local organisations, to begin looking again at their position within the neighbourhood. We see Botanic Concrete as an opportunity to use the arts to make a positive contribution to cities of the future, and to facilitate local populations to envision community ownership and minimise dependency on others.
We believe that this model of supporting urban community development through creativity could be beneficial to our local area and also become a template for other communities to use to take ownership of their own civic space.
Garnethill, a drumlin in the city centre of Glasgow which borders Cowcaddens to its north, Sauchiehall Street to its south, Cambridge Street to its east and the M8 motorway to its west, is characterised by its inaccessible steep streets.
Garnethill is one of the most multicultural areas within Glasgow since it has been and still is, a receptor for many waves of immigration which the city has welcomed. It includes a ‘Chinatown’ on its northern edge as well as different institutions such as the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Conservatory which receive and accommodate a large amount of foreign students.