Porphyry stone has all of the unique beauty and all of the physical properties to create a great commercial street in a challenging climate. To fulfill the design and functional needs of this great street,Scotland’s principal shopping street, and the heart of Glasgow, stone was the easy choice.

Gillespies won an international design competition for one of Glasgow’s central and most famous streets:Buchanan Street.  The firm is a multi-disciplinary design practice, embracing master planning, urban design, landscape design and landscape planning. The project involved the reduction of access to vehicular traffic and the creation of a pedestrian oriented environment.   As well using traditional, robust and durable natural stone paving materials, simple and elegant repetitive elements such as lighting and seating components were employed to create a strong rhythm and pattern along the street.  Utilizing the themes and directions identified in the Glasgow Public Realm Strategy, the practice produced a design for the street based upon the rich traditions of the city, interpreted in a modern, clean and functional manner. The project has won recognition for its quality both in the UK and abroad, winning numerous major awards.

Why It Works

Buchanan Street is Glasgow’s grandest promenade and the true heart of the city. Along its length it contains numerous shops, two arcades, two major shopping centers, a museum and library, and a design centre. The entrance to the city’s main concert hall both terminates the street’s axis and helps turn the corner into Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow’s other main shopping artery. There are several intersecting routes and public spaces, which offer a variety of activities. In 2003 it was voted Scotland’s favorite street in a BBC / CABE poll. In summer 2004 it was awarded a Congress for New Urbanism award for excellence.

What Makes Buchanan Street a Great Place?

Buchanan Street has been Glasgow’s premier street for the past two centuries and is an integral part of the fabric of Glasgow’s historic city center. It sits at the junction between the Merchants City and Glasgow’s Victorian commercial heart. Two stations on the city’s underground network sit at either end of the street, whilst the city’s two main rail termini are within 5 minutes walk. The River Clyde lies at the southern end of the street.

The present day appearance of its public realm is the result of an international competition held in 1997. This was won by a team lead by the British leading design and landscaping practice Gillespies. It is a design of radical simplicity, which emphasizes the identity of the street by removing clutter and revealing the richness and elegance of its architecture. Lighting is integral to the success of the design and unusually the street has been demarked by blue tones. The street has been cited by the authors of the “Good Place Guide” as one of Britain’s 10 best places. Glaswegians are renowned for their friendliness and sense of humor.Buchanan Street epitomizes this and is a very social place. It is the city’s main promenade where people meet up to shop or socialize.

Images courtesy Project For Public Spaces

Porphyry’s composition determines its high compression strength, resistance to stains, slip resistance, and high freeze/thaw ratings.  The stone is the most popular paver in Europe, and is favored for its flexibility in design, beauty, durability and low maintenance requirements. ADA Compliant Porphyry pavers are also adaptable to a permeable paving set. The stone is by far one of the most durable pavers in the world.  These beautiful materials are available from Milestone Imports.   Milestone supports the creativity of architects, planners and designers. Porphyry offers surfaces of various finishes and mixed colorings, tending towards tones of grey, gold, violet and red, depending on where it is extracted.  The products are available in North America from Milestone Imports.  –  www.milestoneimports.com