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Redesigning George Square

By The Drum | Administrator

December 2, 2004 | 6 min read

Glasgow City Council has announced that it will invest nearly £500,000 on redesigning the much maligned george square. here, The Drum asks four Glasgow design agencies to create a new landscape for the city centre.

1 James Young, Managing Director, D8

This is a catapult to throw crap people out of Glasgow. The reason that they were deemed to be crap would determine where they were aimed at. eg if they were ugly you could fire them at Edinburgh or if they were smelly you could fire them at Edinburgh or if they were really thick they could be fired at Edinburgh.

2 Freight Design

Car Park

A free multi-storey car park would be built

over the square with roads from all parts of the city extending directly to different levels.


A specially constructed biosphere would be built in George Square for nurturing the next generation of the Scottish football team. The public would be able to watch the team develop and shout abuse 24 hours a day.

Birthing Pool

An Irn-Bru-filled birthing pool would be built within the square as a replacement for the demolished Rottenrow Maternity Hospital, to help bring a new generation of true Glaswegians into the world.


A castle would be built on a specially constructed rock face to attract tourists, sound a cannon in case anyone forgets when it’s one o’clock and make Edinburgh completely obsolete as a city.

The Ned Trap

A giant, sticky Burberry pillar is surrounded by a Buckfast moat to attract neds from miles around. Those who don’t fall in the moat will be stuck to the pillar, which descends to reveal a normal statue and pulls the victims into the ned farm below. An observation deck allows others to study their behaviour.


A large Loch Ness monster replica (or the real one if they can catch it) is split across two Damien Hirst-style glass cases, allowing tourists to walk through the middle. The installation would probably use Special Brew instead of formaldehyde for a more authentic aroma and intoxicating experience.


The entire contents of George Square would be converted into the world’s largest pinball table. Statues and flower beds would act as obstacles, lighting up when hit, and the stone lions set on pivots to act as flippers. The public could then play the council to decide such issues as council tax rates.

Support Pillar

George Square would provide the site for a giant support pillar holding up a glass weatherproof roof spanning the entire city centre for rain-free winters.

3 Victor Brierley and David Freer, Citigate Smarts Design

George’s Square – for Georges everywhere. Let’s make George Square a Mecca for “Georges” from all over the world. Georges, come and worship at George Central. It’s a well known fact that George is a comedy name anyway ... George Formby, George Burns, erm ... George of the Jungle. So let’s have some fun.

Everywhere really cheesy on the tourist map has a rubbish waxworks, so we’re advocating going one further than that. Take down all the existing, boring statues of dead people in George Square and replace them with large, pop art, multicoloured, fibreglass versions of all the favourite “Georges” of the moment. Georges the world over would flock to see their namesakes in their very own square. We’ve calculated that all over the world there must be literally hundreds of people called George, most of whom, saddled with such a ridiculous name, probably drink quite heavily. We reckon they’d LOVE to come to Glasgow to see their own square, get involved in Glasgow’s unique pub culture and enjoy shopping one of the UK’s major retail centres outside ... Lond...blah blah blah ... Being fibreglass, they give “George” Square the chance to move with the times and be totally “with it”, at all times! George Michael produces yet another boring, self-indulgent album, full of his cod political stances and homocentric rhetoric? No problem! Pap him off his plinth pronto! – and replace him with a statue of moustachioed, fusion soul/jazz legend, George “bad” Benson. George ... nice!

Imagine, the only square in the world where all the statues are always TOTALLY up to date. No dull or politically incorrect geezers on horseback. Osama BL finally gets to George W and poisons his bagels? No probs! Dismantle the podium of the leader of the Free World and replace him with Blackpool’s cheeky ukulele funster – George Formby. He could be interactive, singing “Chinese Laundry Blues”, which would fit in exactly with Glasgow’s laudable multi-cultural sensitivities.

In keeping with this “EveryGeorge” approach, two weighty plinths would be cleared of the existing jingoistic Victorian bronze characters and would remain empty at all times. No, not for some stupid, gold-painted mime arse to kid on he’s a statue, but as Scotland’s own answer to London’s Speaker’s Corner – George’s Corner!

If your name is George, whether you are a gifted orator or a Special Brew-swilling maniac who usually just comes to the square to bark at the pigeons, you would have the George-given right to climb up there and “gie it laldy”!

Insult people randomly, right political wrongs and social injustices, shout and bawl, or simply sing Engelbert Humperdink tunes in a very bad pub voice. Whatever ...

Featured Georges could be: George from Rainbow, George Formby, George Michael, General George Carpets, General George Patton, George Best, George Harrison, George Foreman (and all his sons, who are ALL, incredibly, called George – nae joke)... you get the picture ...

The couple of empty plinths, instead of the lions, just outside the City Chambers, they’d be the centrepiece. “George’s Corner” a chance for pub Georges everywhere to let the world know exactly how they feel. Perfect for staging “George-Off’s”. Two pissed blokes spouting absolute bollocks! Double the fun!

4 McConville Architects

George Square Problems:

ï The square is noisy and uncomfortable.

ï When the square is used for events the temporary structures are usually sore to the eye and fragment the surrounding space into ugly service access routes.

Solution: Adaptable Surface/Roof

George Square is covered with segmented strips. These strips can be finished in a variety of surfaces (or combinations of surfaces). The strips can be configured as a fragmented circulation and exploration-friendly arrangement for daily use, or as a weather-protected, event-friendly shelter (for concerts/art shows etc).

The effect will be for people to explore the city from new viewpoints, or to enjoy a relaxing day in the sun on top of a green hill in the city centre above the traffic and humdrum crowds, regardless of whether there is an event on or not.


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