Child “Imagineers” Should Be Consulted Over George Square Redesign, Experts Say – first published in the National, April 2021

The Rings fountain in Boston – pic Rob Bruce

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which was recently incorporated into Scots law gives children a right to be consulted on matters that affect them – and experts say that includes  helping to redesign the area around George Square.

This process  took a step forward last week when the design commission was awarded to architects John McAslan and Partners. They famously won an international competition to give the square a new look back in 2013. That was controversially abandoned when the Council decided it lacked public support.

Leader at the time Gordon Matheson said: “ The people of Glasgow have made it clear in no uncertain terms that they do not want a radical redesign of the square. They want the square to look better and be a place of which they can be proud – a place they can while away a sunny afternoon or get together and celebrate the big occasions in the life of the city.”

Now, instead of using the abandoned competition design, McAslan and partners have been given a brief to work together with stakeholders to come up with an agreed plan. They will take on board the Council’s objectives in terms of active travel and the results of a public conversation in 2019.

They will also consider how city centres elsewhere, such as Boston in the USA or Manchester in the UK, have attracted more residents and families to live in once run-down inner city areas. The City plan aim is to double the population from 20,000 to 40,000 by 2035.

Boston buried an urban motorway in “the Big Dig” to create a ribbon of park which features an innovative fountain designed to be attractive for children to play in – called The Rings Fountain, it features coloured lights and jets of water, inset into the Rose Kennedy Greenway.


“We would urge architects and planners to take this opportunity to work with the area’s children and get their unique perspective. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was recently incorporated into the law of Scotland – that gives children a legal right to be consulted on what affects them,” Cathy McCulloch co-Director of the Children’s Parliament said.


“We have worked with groups of ‘Imagineers’ on similar projects across Scotland in the past. They bring a  fresh perspective and contribute great ideas that adults may not have thought of. This is not just about creating lots of play areas for children. Children are very aware of how their families interact with the built environment.”


Child Imagineers from Tranent in East Lothian visited Geneva to display a mural showing how they would like their area to look, and in Aberdeen, children presented their ideas and dreams for their city to 100 professionals.


A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “In terms of future consultation, we will engage with local communities and stakeholders as the design process for George Square and the surrounding Avenues evolves.  We welcome comment and participation from as many people as possible in any of our consultations, and are interested in any proposals or methods that could increase levels of engagement.”


The Lynch Family Skatepark is under a motorway junction in Boston