STRATHCLYDE Partnership for Transport (SPT) is in the process of removing the two arches signalling the entrance to Cessnock Subway station in Glasgow.

This has stirred up quite a fuss ("Political leaders back campaign to save arches at Glasgow underground station", The Herald, August 21). As the designer of the arches, I am flattered and gratified to see that so many people have grown fond of them, particu­larly as they are only 24 years old.

Our predecessor architectural practice was established in 1986 and, after a feasibility study, was commissioned by the Scottish Development Agency (SDA) to provide professional services in respect of the complete restoration of 6-10 Cessnock Street (the return leg of the Grade A Walmer Crescent designed by Alexander Thomson); and a less intrusive refurbishment of the tenement on the opposite side of the street. Since I am also a landscape architect we thought it worthwhile to advocate an upgrade of the streetscape between the blocks and this was agreed to by the SDA. Because of the architectural context we thought the station entrance should be signalled by something more respectful than the corporate identity approach favoured by the then Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive (SPTE) - a large illuminated "U" on top of the planter at the steps. SPTE had no objection to our idea. I do not think the arches are on SPT property and, if memory serves, they were a paid for by the SDA, which begs the question: who owns them?

SPT calls them a pastiche as they are not original. Pastiche is a word that has faintly derogatory undertones. Alexander Thomson was not given the sobriquet "Greek" for nothing. Thomson was the acknowledged master of pastiche; no-one copied and adapted Greek architectural features as well as he did. More widely, what is Victorian architecture for the most part anyway, other than reinterpretations of architectural styles from earlier periods in history?

The arches are not, in any case, a precise imitation of anything specific by Thomson. I just thought it would be fun to think how the master (dead 21 years before the Subway was even opened) might have considered how best to integrate a subway station below one of his buildings.

Of course, SPT is right to modernise and upgrade the Subway system. That was what its predecessor did in the 1970s, but it was a pity that much of its original charm was obliterated in so doing. My dictionary defines charm as "the power or quality of giving delight or arousing admiration" so I hope the latest makeover can deliver this. But is better accessibility and identifiability (SPT justifications for arch removal) really only achievable at the expense of individuality?

The reaction to my own modest contribution to the streetscape of my home town suggests otherwise.

Lachie Munro,

Munro Associates,

7 Lynedoch Crescent,


THE time has come to put an end to the long-lasting controversy over Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen ("Oil tycoon's revamp cash offer extended" and Leader, The Herald, August 22).

Sir Ian Wood has offered to keep his £50 million on the table for city centre investment as a legacy from the demise of his City Garden Project a year ago.

The Friends of Union Terrace Gardens, who have determinedly opposed the loss of the city's Victorian park, are open to the idea of building a consensus on the issue. There must be a solution whereby Aberdeen gets to keep its heritage and unique identity, while at the same time Sir Ian Wood's specific concerns about the appearance of the city centre can be solved.

It is now up to Sir Ian to decide if he is willing to talk to interested parties or whether he is still just as determined to push his own plan. We both care passionately about our city in different ways. Surely there must be a way forward to the benefit of Aberdeen.

Mike Shepherd.

Friends of Union Terrace Gardens,

18 Forbesfield Road, Aberdeen.