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Case study

South Canal Bank

High quality public realm improvements to the south of the Forth and Clyde Canal through the centre of Clydebank. Creating a new town square with direct access to the Canal.

Streets and Squares
The Brief

The Brief

Appoint a landscape architect-led design team to prepare and implement detailed design proposals to revamp the public realm on the south bank of the canal within Clydebank town centre. 

Within Clydebank town centre, the canal offers a unique resource that was under-exploited.  One of the key priorities identified by the partner agencies was the need to improve the environment along the canal corridor within the town centre to turn it into an attractive destination and hub of activity.

These initiatives are part of a major programme of public and private investment in the last decade that has already seen the canal reopened to navigation under the Millennium Link Project and CIS, the owner of the Clyde Shopping Centre, undertake an upgrading and development programme valued at over £20million.

the church green towards bandstand


The conceptual approach sought to generate strong linkages and connections to the north bank of the canal and the shopping centre; to enhance the setting of the town centre, ensuring its better integration with the canal, thereby strengthening Clydebank as a retail destination and to make it a place where people would choose to stop and use.  A key consideration was retaining and embellishing the ability for the space to accommodate entertainment and events.

The Forth and Clyde is a unique asset of the town centre and it was important to encourage more people to use the canal side public space and the town centre at all times of the day, especially in the evening, and throughout the year.  The canal should become more animated and enliven the space, in contrast to its existing divisive nature.



The site runs along the south bank of the Forth and Clyde Canal through the centre of Clydebank and completes the town centre improvements which started on the north bank of the canal in 2004. 

The project includes an existing market square in the centre of the town of Clydebank, the stretch of the Forth and Clyde canal along the south bank, the garden space to the north of Abbotsford Church, and the orchard area to the west.  The site is defined by the canal to the north, by the church and shopping centre to the centre and by Kilbowie and Argyll Roads to the east and west.  The brief was for environmental improvements to this run down and poorly kept area of town and provide Clydebank with a rejuvenated town square and canal frontage.



One of the four strategic objectives of Clydebank re-built is to ensure that all communities of Clydebank are involved in the regeneration proposals. As part of the commission for this project, the design consultants will be required to:

  • engage with all relevant partners, agencies and organisations with an interest in Clydebank Town Centre and its economic, social and physical viability. This includes retailers, land owners and property managers.
  • monitor people who use the Canal area in Clydebank town centre and seek to take account of their needs. This includes shoppers, recreational canal and towpath users, retailers and people of all abilities.
  • obtain community involvement in shaping proposals and outcomes through Clydebank re-built -organised community consultation forums. This will assist in generating a sense of ownership and pride in the project.


The project is comprised of a series of three interconnected spaces; Three Queens Square, Church Green and the Orchard.

Three Queens Square is the town square for Clydebank. It is the centre of activity and focus for the market and seasonal activities. These improvements reinforce the square’s position in Clydebank and provide for a much improved, safe and robust environment for the community.  As a focal point to the square the restored Victorian bandstand was relocated to a prominent position on the canal bank.

In contrast to the activity and open outlook of Three Queens Square, the existing mature trees and grass mounding of the Church Green create quiet, sheltered spaces. The mature trees provide a unique setting adjacent to the hard landscape town square. A new sculptural play space nestles into the trees and mounds.

The Orchard space terminates the proposals with two grids of pear trees reinforcing the geometry set up from the adjacent spaces, building and canal. An existing cycle network route is maintained while space for occasional market stalls and display stands is accommodated.

Sculpture & Play

Sculpture & Play

Clydebank’s ship building and industrial past informed the design proposals of geometry, paving materials, play areas and street furniture.  HarrisonStevens have successfully managed the local authority’s expectations for both a play space and public art.  Combining the two elements into a series of sculptural play walls in the form of ships bows and sterns.  These reflect the history of Clydebank, and particularly the reference to the Three Queens which were launched from the ship yards.  Interactive waterspouts on the canal edge encourage activity and enliven the public realm.

Local school pupil’s art work is incorporated into solar lights, recessed into the paving. The play and sculptural elements portray the three Cunard cruise ships which were built in Clydebank. The route of the old railway lines are represented in the Three Queens Square paving, terminated with granite buffer seating blocks. The paving patterns recreate the essence of steam arising from the tracks.



HarrisonStevens were Contract Administrators for the delivery of the traditionally delivered project. This project demonstrates how good quality design, quality implementation, for a relatively modest budget can transform a space and the community’s perception of place.  It is now active and animated, not sterile and unsafe.  This is an example of landscape architecture leading a project and working collaboratively with specialist consultants where necessary.  This is a key public space in the heart of a community.  The result is a space which people now notice, and become involved in during their day to day activities.  It hosts the canal festivals, cycle groups along the canal and the seasonal festivals, on top of the twice weekly market. 

The creation of a quality environment with associated activities has raised the profile of the town centre as a destination. The successful repositioning of the Canal in Clydebank town centre as a hub of activity has been expanded upon, by improving access and permeability between the canal, its towpath and the Clyde Shopping Centre with wider networks, facilities and services. The image and identity of Clydebank town centre as a nodal point on the wider canal network through an improved physical and visual relationship with the canal has been achieved.