Borders Water


Water is the origin of life, but water pollution is happening in many areas on our planet. Billions of people are more or less suffering from health problems due to it. Except the influence upon human beings, water pollution can also destroy the natural landscape alongside the river and kill the animals and plants existing close to the water.


The pollutants of water stem from three areas: industry, agriculture and domesticity, with the industry being the most significant one [1].

Water pollution issue in Galashiels

Galashiels is a town alongside Gala Water at Scottish borders in UK. It has a history of textile industry for almost five centuries. The first record of the textiles trade in Galashiels can be traced back to 1585 [2]. In 1777, the Manufacturers’ Corporation of Galashiels was found. After 23 years, the first mill was built [3]. With the reputation of the quality products, textiles has become the core industry in Galashiels. Although there was a reduction on the textiles scale in recent decades,  most of the British textiles mills are still located at Scottish borders. And we can also see a future where Galashiels depends more on the textiles industry.


However, textiles industry may result in severe water pollution. Hasanbeigi said “In addition to using substantial energy, textiles manufacturing uses a large amount of water, particularly for wet processing of materials, and produces a significant volume of contaminated effluent” [4]. How to improve the traditional manufacture procedure to make it more environment-friendly is a core topic in reducing the water pollution. Besides, people’s awareness about this specific issue is also significant. When we look back into the history of Galashiels, we can find that some severe diseases like cholera have broken out in the town due to the polluted water. The textiles industry was the main source of pollution [2]. Today, a number of people are going to make Galashiels the “city of textile”. The idea of making Galashiels a comprehensive textiles centre has never stopped these years after all [5]. But when the size of the city doubles in 20 years, and the textiles factories even spread to the neighbouring cities, won’t we probably suffer from the water pollution again? During the interview, some of the old local people also expressed concerns about the environmental pollution of Galashiels in the future.


Regeneration of Galashiels – Place

The regeneration always happens at a remote area in a city which is underused. My programme starts with solving the issue of water pollution in Galashiels by raising people’s awareness and then moves to correlated researches especially aiming at an environment-friendly production-process on the textiles industry.


The information in the diagram [6] [7] [8]

The diagram above shows the place of this programme and surroundings. This waterfront area has a perfect traffic accessibility towards both sides of the river because of the footbridge. It also includes a potential waterfront landscape to be explored. Above all, it is close to the Schofield Dyers and Finishers mill which is essential for the whole Scottish textiles industry, because they provide finishing process for nearly all the textiles products in Scotland. I plan to build a research centre which has close cooperation with this mill. Besides, this research centre is also in charge of monitoring the water quality from the river.


The building of this programme can also function as a science museum. It might raise people’s awareness of the water pollution through a variety of exhibitions inside. Also, it continues the context from the northwest of the site which is for public activities. Finally, the project will provide citizens with a civic square and make sure they can enjoy the view on the river bank.

Proposal about water pollution

In this part of the proposal, I will focus on how to solve the problem of water pollution.


The diagrams above show how this part of the proposal works. At the early stage, we need funding for the architectural project about the research centre and science museum. The research centre is partly funded by Schofield mill. Then, it will operate cooperation with the education field. The research centre might utilise the innovative technology to attract students from the University of Heriot-watt. The management could establish such an institution which is for teaching, training and providing research topic to the scholars. They can absolutely make money from them. And a part of the outcomes, for example, scholars’ help with the research or talents who return to the research centre after graduation, would also promote the process of research. Besides, the institution can also achieve patent fee through the dissemination of their technology. Above all, treatment in advance as a prevention of water pollution can save a huge amount of money which can be used in a later treatment. For example, in the 1700s, British strived to develop heavy industry and ignored water resource protection. Thames water was suffered from a severe pollution later. After the treatment during hundreds of years which cost 500 million pounds, the water standard was improved by 1970s. How much is that? The railway project which just finished cost 294 million in total. The new transport interchange project at Stirling street cost only 5 million [9].

On another aspect, science museum will be built for raising people’s awareness about the issue by holding a series of exhibitions and other activities related. When people start to aware the seriousness of the problem, they will be encouraged to organise some environmentally themed campaigns themselves which start from the civic square in front of the science museum building. These activities would not only further announce the water pollution issue but also strengthen the social cohesion of the citizens. Finally, the whole proposal will lead to a better health condition of local people which I think is the most important part of the sustainability.

Some details about the proposal



The images above is a brief introduction about my architectural project proposition. The new civic square will be divided into two parts by the building. One part of providing a place for public outdoor activities and another part mainly for the view of the river bank. They would be connected together by the stilt part of the building which means citizens could arrive at the bank in a handy way by crossing the building.

There is another interesting element in the site which is the lade for mills.


The map information[10]

From the map above originated from 1847, we can clearly see a water course alongside the Gala water. It was actually a branch of the Gala water. The mill lade provided the water source to mill production and also as the energy to power the mill. This type of man-made water course creates a head of the water normally ranging from 0.5 to 2 metres high. It could drive the machines in the mill with a connection to the belt. Besides the open lade in Schofield mill, there is also another one underground in the site. I plan to open it to the public and make it the central fountain of the civic square which is like the one in Cornmill square.


The lade in courtyard of the mill


Because the lade in site is actually a continuous one coming from the town centre, the water quality is worse than that in the river. If we test the quality of water in both simultaneously and compare them, we can highlight the influence by people’s daily lives over it. By showing the difference to the public at the square, people will feel the pollution issue more directly.


From the diagram above we can see that in this part of the proposition, we try to figure out the industrial water pollution by cooperation with the mill. We try to intervene into the agricultural pollution by monitoring the water quality in the river and raising people’s awareness of it. We try to alleviate the domestic pollution by interaction with the citizens. Awareness again plays a key role in the strategy.

Proposal about water use


Besides water pollution, we can also see the positive aspect through the interaction between natural water cycle and human beings. We can utilise water in a wiser way for our building project. The hydro-electricity facility could supply power for the building. The river water can be used for flushing the toilet which accounts for one-third of the total water usage in a building. The rain water collection strategy can even provide drinking water for the occupants inside the building. Those will come true at the next stage of the whole project which focuses more on the building itself. We also want to use these practices to encourage people doing the same thing to utilise the water resource wisely.





[4] Hasanbeigi, A. & Price, L. 2015. A technical review of emerging technologies for energy and wate efficiency and pollution reduction in the textile industry.







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