Westside Plaza, Wester Hailes
Direct link: https://vimeo.com/696996892
MASTER PLANNING/LANDSCAPING: Public Realm/Landscaping
The Wester Hailes Community Trust, and The City of Edinburgh Council
This community design led project was initially created with the direction and vision of the Wester Hailes Community Trust and facilitated by HarrisonStevens. It is an example of a town centre square transformed through community interest, aspiring for a better future. An extensive consultation programme of drop in events, space shaper workshops, schools’ visits and focused sessions led to an insight into what the local community felt about the existing space and what they wanted to see in the future. The five key principles that emerged from the community design sessions were simple; improve the surfacing, increase the green space, deter anti-social behaviour, tell the stories and history of the place, and create more colour and activity in a safe and attractive environment. These aims were delivered through a further appointment with HarrisonStevens by the City of Edinburgh Council. The budget was tight leading to innovative re-use of materials on site, Caithness stone paving and street furniture. HarrisonStevens delivered the community design of the plaza that includes a central events square, central green space including new tree planting, wildflower meadows and lawns, new surfacing and a play space.
Perhaps one of the most significant elements of the design that roots Westside Plaza to its context and community are the four large granite heritage panels. HarrisonStevens worked with local residents and art groups, and with artists to develop the artwork for these panels, which have been carefully curated to include local history, stories and art work from local school children thinking about the future of their place. The public artwork, titled ‘Things are looking up’, is to celebrate the history, regeneration, and future of Wester Hailes.
The Wester Hailes Community Trust and local initiatives have a strong interest in maintaining and developing the narrative of this space and grounding it as a community asset through a continued programme of public artworks and events. The completion of the works at the plaza is a good starting point for further development. Recently Wester Hailes featured in the ‘What If?’ Scottish Biennale exhibition and the central plaza space played a pivotal role in the outcomes from those conversations. Westside Plaza is truly at the heart of the regeneration of this town. It has strong links to Edinburgh through active travel routes along the Union Canal Towpath, the trainline and station to the south, and a new west Edinburgh cycle link.