By Alex Mitchell
After a little consideration of the inescapable fundamental features of the City Square/ Gardens Project, some construction engineering issues arise.
Surely there would be significant challenges to be overcome after creating a 3-4 storey steel & concrete building in a deep hole in the ground that would have once been our Victorian Union Terrace Gardens. A river valley, a natural drainage sump, topped off by a vast (5-acre) and largely flat concrete expanse – where would the rainwater go? A situation further exacerbated when businesses, shops and restaurants would be operating in the ‘concourse’ directly below.
Then consider the addition of the roof or lid which would have to be load-bearing, supporting (potentially) large numbers of people and large expanses of waterlogged turf, soil, shrubs & trees, as well as very heavy water features; all whilst having to accommodate the variation in levels from Union Terrace down to Belmont Street and some simulation of the topography of the present Gardens. ?
Such a structure would be bound to include seams and joints that water would penetrate, filtering its way down through the construction. And what about the effects of normal seasonal weather variation, from winter to summer, frost to thaw, drought to flood? The self-seeded plants, sycamores and so on, the wee beasties chiselling their way into the structure? Now factor in the toxic soup of stagnant water, detritus of fast-food, vomit, urine, bird excrement etc, all nicely warmed up by the sun above and commercial activity down below decks?
Could it be presumed that the whole mess would be swept, cleaned, kept clear of snow & ice, salted and gritted at the expense of the City & People of Aberdeen? And what about lighting? Is the CS/GP to be illuminated all night, every night, at huge financial and environmental cost? Or is it to be a huge, threatening black hole and concentration of criminal and anti-social behaviour, right at the heart of our city? And who will pay for policing this vast area, night and day?