This is the final image in this series, and we end on a real low note: Bridgegate House (the building which NAC and Irvine Bay are spending almost £9m on at the moment, with the sole object of making it even more ugly). If you look at the top left of the photo collage, you can see the architects drawing of the view of the West side of the High Street. Now you don't need to be a design genius to see that, for the heart of a Scottish Medieval Burgh, there is something far wrong with this design: if you look at the older buildings on either side of BH, you will see they have all developed from pretty narrow plots (this is because the buildings are built on old field patterns, a system called 'riggs', unique to Scotland; these narrow fields were designed to ensure that good and bad soil were divided evenly between farmers). The result of this field division system is that old Scottish towns have a very distinctive 'rhythm' - the buldings may vary in height, but their width does not vary very dramatically (in the case of the King's Arms, this is obviously built across 2 riggs). The idea of 'street rhythm' is set out in Clyde Imagineering's guide to looking at historic areas, 'Streetsight'; you can download this booklet for free by using the link given at the end of this article.
The High Street side of Bridgegate House is built over three double-rigg plots. The result of this is that the High Street has lost its former rhythm and it looks like someone has 'knocked out three teeth '. If you look at the photo of the model (bottom right), you get some idea of how far BH is out of scale with the buildings on the South side of Bridgegate. In CI's Streetsight booklet this would be described as an 'overpowering contrast'; which is OK if the building is magnificent, like a fine cathedral, impressive town hall or wonderful theatre. However, nobody in their right mind would use the words 'fine', 'impressive' or 'wonderful' to describe Bridgegate House! I think 'an ugly big glass block, adorned wi' white lavvy tiles' might be more accurate.
So we have seen, over the last seven weeks, how badly IDC got some things wrong (in the coming months, we will give due attention to what they got right, admittedly not a lot, but we must give credit where it is due). It is a pity, with their current proposals for the town, that neither NAC nor Irvine Bay appear to have learned anything from the mistakes of IDC's 1971 New Town Plan.
STREETSIGHT LEAFLET Free Download: