Rottenrow Gardens – Greatest Park Never Built
The Best Parkour Spot in Glasgow
Ukemi held a vote with the Glasgow parkour community to decide what the best spot in the city is. The winner of this vote was Rottenrow Gardens – Rottenrow is an iconic training spot for the Glasgow parkour community. Rottenrow has a rich history of gatherings and weekly meet-ups as well as being the training ground for many classes.
Photo taken by Zeno Watson
A Bit About Rottenrow Gardens…
Although claimed by the parkour community as the best parkour spot in Glasgow, Rottenrow is a historic site with a legacy that surpasses our small movement community. Rottenrow is a place of contrasts, beginning with its name believed to be taken either from the Gaelic ‘Rat-an-righ.’ This translates as the ‘Road of Kings’ or the rows of rat (Gaelic ‘Raton’) infested cottages that covered the site as far back as the 14th century or earlier.
Locally it is known as ‘The Rottenrow’, a nickname for the maternity hospital that covered the site before Strathclyde University made it into a community garden. Rottenrow is a constantly shifting site that is filled with both old and new architecture. The old is represented by objects such as the safety pin and the remaining architecture from the maternity hospital that stands in contrast to the rest of the site. These contrasts add flavor to the sprawling sleek lines and modern design work done on it by Gross Max landscape architects to make it into a garden.
Homage to its past is paid in the form of George Wylie’s Monument to Maternity, a seven-metre high stainless steel nappy pin, with a tiny bird perched on top.
What We Like About Rottenrow Gardens
When we recreate a space it’s important to go and experience it to inform the design process, particularly with sites like Rottenrow Gardens which is ginormous. By making decisions on what makes the spot the greatest in the city we can identify exactly what sections to focus on. Some of the things we like include;
- Multiple levels.
- Lots of off-angle large straight lines.
- Rich history at the site.
- A mixture of surface types and materials used.
- Integration of natural elements; rocks, trees, grass, etc.
The decision was made to focus on the center and work out way out. We subtracted the ruins at one of the entrances in favor of focusing on other elements. Therefore as much as we liked the ruins we felt we would get that information while digitizing other spots that are entirely made from ruins.
Why are we Doing This?
Like all shifting sites, particularly those in or near the center of a city, there is no guarantee to how long it will stay the same before warping into something new. Parkour along with all urban sports does not have the same stake in a site that others do. Usage of a si for free and open activity often comes second to developers. Developers who aim to seek profit and capitalize on the space. Ukemi seeks to address this issue by digitizing the worlds best spots. We will create a library of historic spaces used for movement and play and eventually combine them into the greatest parkour park never made.
Armed with blueprints, measuring tape and a few programs our lead designer Tim Pearce has immortalized Rottenrow through digital design. The design is available to review below and will eventually be added to the Ukemi Parks spots library. This is the first location in the ‘Greatest Park Never Built’ project. You can view the original blog by clicking here.
Our next mission is Edinburgh, the nations capital and home to Scotland’s most active Parkour community. Join us in the conversation by joining the Ukemi Project group or through our social media.