The Gala Water Path

Taylor Berberich and Cecilia Hernandez 


Galashiels is rooted in its industrial past, but these remnants are causing a large area and key asset—the college and university campus—to become disconnected and isolated. A major difficulty that is magnifying this disjointedness is the zone between the town and the university, which is filled with industrial uses. Some of the weaknesses presented in this space include poor circulation and public transit, lack of pedestrian access, and few attractive amenities. By targeting this focus area over time, there is an opportunity to create a space that successfully joins the university and college community, with the Galashiels community socially, physically, and economically.

‘We are doing this because…’

This project will focus on the disconnected nature between the community of Galashiels and the University and College community because… this prominent disconnect between the two communities was both a major concern at the community meeting, as well as an evident weakness in the initial research conducted by the knowledge investigation team. The community expressed a concern for the lack of interaction between the two communities, and a desire to enhance the relationship between them. Both students and Galashiels residents at the workshop highlighted elements of weakness which could be enhanced in order to strengthen the sense of community within the whole of Galashiels, including physical connectivity, social connectivity, and economical connectivity. While these threats exist, it may prove difficult to maintain a resilient and cohesive Galashiels, but this project aims to turn these threats into opportunities to excel.

Diagrams_we are doing this because-01
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Physical/Environmental Connectivity         

Transportation in Galashiels has been identified as a major issue, and causes many connectivity problems throughout. Lack of parking, a poor public transit system, and poor connections between the schools and community were the highest concerns that surfaced in the workshop. Residents of Galashiels have a difficult time navigating their town regardless of their mode of transportation.

Improving public transportation alone would have a drastic impact on the ease of navigation, and creating safe biking and walking paths throughout would help re-connect the schools and town.

Click here for a detailed environmental priority chart

Social Connectivity         

Social interactions are integral to the overall dynamic of a town or city in order to understand how people live their daily lives, together and individually. Some of the main social issues in Galashiels are much the same as its economic struggles- deprivation in student areas, poverty and its impact on health and well-being, difficulty recruiting teachers, the lack of education of textiles and jobs for textile manufacturing, fears that the railway will encourage youth to leave, and the lack of any real link between the community and the schools. Unique social issues include a need for safe routes through town, friction between generations, a lack of leaders and volunteers for community efforts, and lack of pride, vision, and identity in Galashiels.

There are many opportunities for improvement, such as offering student discounts to encourage youth to shop locally, free and low cost sport and recreation facilities for low-income residents, opportunities for senior sport and recreation, and more festivals and events to celebrate Galashiels. The mere fact that there is more time to meet with people and establish connections in this small area than would be possible in a big city.

Click here for a detailed social priority chart

Economical Connectivity         

A few concerns were identified at the workshop that either currently, or may in the future, pose a threat to economic condition of Galashiels. These concerns include the depravation of student housing areas, the levels of poverty which could have an impact on health and mental well-being, difficulty recruiting teachers, the lack of education of textiles and jobs for textile manufacturing, the possibility that the emergence of the train will drain the community of its youth/students, and finally the overall lack of real link between the community and the schools.

On the other hand, the workshop also enabled stakeholders to present a number of solutions or ideas to strengthen the economic situation of Galashiels. Some ideas included creating touristic draw, forging relationships between businesses and the schools, promoting pop-up shops, low-cost sporting events, creating a business incubator, and encouraging student discounts.

Click here for a detailed economic priority chart


As team ‘Forming Nexus’ we would like to use the Focus Area as a nexus for all members of the community in Galashiels and the borders.  This would be achieved through phasing over time of physical changes to the landscape, strengthening and forming of relationships, and could include a single facility which houses working partnerships between the different organizations.  These include the city council, the non-governmental organizations, the schools/university, and the hospital.

Case Study #1- Portland State University Recreation Center

Portland State University (PSU) is located in Portland, Oregon, on the west coast of the United States. The city of Portland is well known for its dedication to sustainability, and its education centers are no different in their thinking. PSU opened their recreation center in 2010 in conjunction with a major project to redirect the over ground train lines. The building is designated as certified LEED Gold with rainwater collection systems, captured waste heat to warm the pool, and exercise machines that generate energy for the building. Infrastructure is also laid to improve the building’s sustainability by adding more efficient heating in the future.

Beyond the building, the project has developed a means to meld the university functions with city functions. The City of Portland was implementing designs to re-route and create new over ground train lines through the university district. The two groups came together to design a building on the university’s Urban Plaza. While the first three floors are dedicated to student recreation, the building also draws the community with the inclusion of the City of Portland Archives on the 5th floor and mixed retail venues on the ground floor. The School of Social Work also has space in the building, further adding to the list of community groups to use the space (Portland Daily Journal of Commerce 2009).

This building design creates a hub for people all across the city to come and use the space. provides further evidence that a mixed-use building plan would highly benefit Galashiels and the university. Currently there is nothing central to connect the two groups, and nothing at the university to draw the community. The students want the amenities of the town, but are unhappy with how difficult it is to get there from the school. As evidenced by the article, mixing amenities that benefit the entire community would greatly aid in the creation of linkages through Galashiels.

Koller, M.O., 2013. PSU Design Build Project. ASHRAE Journal, [Online]. May 2013, 47-52. Available at: [Accessed 23 February 2015].


Case Study #2-Ball State: University-Community Partnership

The Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, USA has become an integral part of the Muncie community, which can be seen through twelve concrete outreach units. The following six units are highlighted to show the possibilities that might be relevant for the Galashiels community.

  1. Building Better Communities (BBC)- links Indiana communities, organizations and businesses with the resources and expertise of Ball State faculty and students. The program includes a fellowship, which allows students and faculty to find real-world solutions to real-world problems for Indiana businesses and organizations.
  2. Community Based Projects (CBP)- This active unit in the College of Architecture and Planning works closely with Indiana communities to address the environmental issues and problems to be solved regarding development and revitalization of local businesses or neighborhoods.
  3. Professional Development Schools Network- This unit was established to nurture a variety of professional partnership relations with schools and educational sites in the region and to “encourage and lead in the process of simultaneous school improvement.”
  4. Student Voluntary Services (SVS) of the student center- Each year, the SVS works with over 100 local non-profit agencies to place students of Ball State University into the community to serve others. Some students aim to meet course community service requirements while others join for the fun.
  5. NEXT Big Thing Entrepreneurial Program- A collaboration with the Ball State Center for Media Design to help students turn ideas into business ventures while competing for awards for the most promising projects. The program is open to members of the community as well as students of the University.
  6. Muncie Innovation Center- Founded in partnership with Ball State University, Ball Memorial Hospital, and the City of Muncie, the Innovation Center exists to help new entrepreneurs with truly unique tech-based business ideas. The Center helps by creating and attracting jobs, connecting entrepreneurs to resources and assistance, sharing knowledge between new and existing companies, providing expertise to participants through advisors, and leveraging the resources of the University, Cardinal Health System, local government, and community partners.

These and other types of partnerships have helped to integrate the students of the University with the community of Munice. While copying the exact approach may not be beneficial to Galashiels, these examples exhibit just how university-community partnerships can highlight their assets to create a stronger and more resilient community overall.

Source: MARIYATHAS, SHALINI. “Bringing the University to the Community: An Examination of the Ball State University Partnership with the City of Muncie.” Diss. Ball State U, 2010., 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.

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