Glasgow officials have unveiled a new urban regeneration project for the city’s downtrodden Cowcaddens area. Their fix isn’t new housing or tearing down the highway or even a High Line of the transatlantic north. It’s giant flowers! Big, fake, aluminum flowers!
Ah, yes, nothing like going from wasteland to Munchkinland. The 50 pink, orange, and yellow flowers have sprouted up along an underpass, forming a cheery bike and pedestrian thoroughfare that links northern Glasgow to the city center. Before, it was a gloomy concrete tract that hinted at an old story in the annals of urban planning: The place used to be a swath of sparkling public space — Phoenix Park, they called it. Then the M8 motorway came along and ruined everything. In aw-shucks homage, the fake foliage has been christened Phoenix Flowers.
The flowers are part of a larger initiative to raise a 14-hectare section of the city from the ashes of its industrial past (and out of the shadow of said highway) and turn it into a cultural mecca.
We love it. The candy-colored ground, too — it’s just like the yellow brick road, only red! And not brick! Oh, well, whatever, you get what we’re sayin?.
Obviously, the city isn’t foolish enough to think that by throwing up some fun fake flowers, it can counteract years of post-industrial decline exacerbated by bad urban planning — problems vexing cities all over the world. To that end, it has other projects in the works. The Phoenix Flowers are a small step, and it remains to be seen whether they can actually turn an inhospitable underpass into a bustling pedestrian and bicycle path — or whether they will just end up like a scene out of Return to Oz.