Arup's work on Union Terrace Gardens as been rewarded at the 2023 Scottish Design Awards, receiving the gold award in the lighting category.

Originally opened in 1879, Union Terrace Gardens, located in Aberdeen city centre, reopened in December 2022 following a series of upgrades to transform the site back into a much-loved public space. Arup was commissioned by Aberdeen City Council to help develop a regeneration plan that was sympathetic of Union Terrace Gardens historical role in the city. 

Today the garden boasts a new 80-metre-long footbridge, viewing platforms, an enhancement of the natural amphitheatre and three new pavilions, as well as extensive public realm and park improvements. Arup also provided a lighting design with distinctive features ensuring key routes and event spaces remain well-lit 24/7, which improves access and safety throughout the space.

Throughout the development of Union Terrace Gardens, public safety for all ages was considered using low-level and high-level lighting. Layers of light were used to create an elegant, welcoming, and safe environment.

Night-time safety concerns were a key consideration for the reimagined Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen. I was honoured to lead the lighting design for this project and work with LDA, Aberdeen City Council and Balfour Beatty to ensure the space is accessible all year round. Winning the Gold Award for Lighting at the Scottish Design Award was a lovely surprise. I hope it helps raise awareness of night-time design for public realm spaces and the contribution considered lighting can make. We went beyond a compliance-led approach to create an inviting space that considers energy and ecology, which can be enjoyed by families in the evening as well as during the day. 

Laura Phillips

Lighting Designer, Arup