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Artist’s transformation of newly-pedestrianised Dundee city centre street hailed as ‘brilliant’

Union Street, Dundee.
Union Street, Dundee.

Dundee is leading the way in providing attractive pedestrianised areas, according to those behind the revamp of the city’s Union Street.

UNESCO City of Design Dundee spearheaded an almost 10-hour paint job this week on the busy city centre thoroughfare, which was last month shut to vehicles.

Callum Laird, a recent graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design DJCAD, designed a colourful zebra crossing-style mural, which was then painted alongside other elements by 10 artists.

It was co-designed with businesses and residents with a mural one of the main ideas put forward by the public.

Tyler Fisher, 6, doesn’t let the storm dampen his spirits on Union Street.

Head of the project, Annie Marrs, lead officer for UNESCO City of Design, said it is important Dundee lives up to its billing as a forward-thinking city.

She said: “Other areas have pedestrianised areas but, being the UK’s first and only UNESCO City of Design, we thought we could do it better.

“We say all the time that we believe in good design but we need to talk the talk and deliver it on the streets.

“It was already a successful street because it links V&A Dundee and the train station with the centre.

“It’s a temporary measure but the changes so far seem to be hugely popular.

“It’s exciting looking to the future and wondering if this could continue. There has to be a balance of course and any decision I’m sure would be taken with the input from residents and businesses.”

Union Street was shut to traffic in July with planters installed and cafes and bars making use of the increased space by installing outside seating.

Traffic is banned between 11am and 4pm with only deliveries allowed outwith this time.

The changes are being funded by Spaces for People through Sustrans Scotland, in partnership with Dundee City Council.

The idea behind the street painting is that it encourages people to explore the street by walking on the road and discourages traffic in the already restricted zone.

The painting was led by Leila Kalbassi, a scenic artist supported by a mix of local artists, students and recent graduates.

Ms Marrs added: “The reaction online already has been brilliant. We are absolutely delighted and hope we can inspire other cities.”

The paint is temporary (lasting around four to six weeks) and eco-friendly.

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