Cumbernauld was established as a New Town in 1955, the third to be designated in Scotland to help overcome post war overcrowding and housing shortages in Glasgow. As with many new towns it has suffered notoriety in many ways ranging from the backdrop to Bill Forsyth’s endearing 1981 film Gregory’s Girl to more recent less flattering awards. Part of its aesthetic issues have been the dominance of dual carriageways, roundabouts and grey domestic housing.
Our response was to look at Cumbernauld’s history which initially had included a Town Artist who created prominent and dramatic colour schemes. Also, the Scottish Gaelic name from the town, Comar nan Allt, comes from its being located where streams flow west into the Clyde and east into the Forth rivers, and translates into English as ‘The Meeting Of The Waters’. Using both analogies, a coloured metal ‘wave’ was installed along each inclined embankment – green in the north and yellow in the south assisted with identity and orientation. They worked as a colourful metal artwork during the day and were uplit at night providing a wave effect for moving car drivers. The coloured galvanising used Highland Galvanisers, a local Cumbernauld company. Slopes were re-profiled and crumbling revetment slopes replaced to assist a more sustainable maintenance regime.