James Brough Memorial Prize

Interior Design School of Design

Bianka Laura Bizubova (She / Her)

I believe that ruins have the potential to become a historical frame for a contemporary space. I am drawn to the genius loci of abandoned buildings and their architectural features that I can translate into a new design and use. Anything we restore is less dangerous to our future than anything we built new. My final year project acts upon opportunities to create a more sustainable future with innovations that drive positive change.

“The best way to predict the future is to design it.” – Buckminster Fuller

Acre House Design Lab
Interior Design
Design Concept
Online Portfolio
3D Model

Acre House Design Lab

My chosen site is a dilapidated building located in Maryhill, Glasgow. The Acre House is a 2-storey Italianate villa with a 3-stage tower. It was built in about 1880 no one seems to know who the house was built for and by whom. It fell out of use in 2004. It is still lying empty, and damaged by severe fires.

My motive is an innovative renovation and sustainable revitalization of this building. Even in ruins, their foundations prove robust enough to support a new structure for new generations.

My proposal is an adaptive reuse proposal using the ruin’s envelope.

What is a Research and design lab?

The Design Research Lab is a dry laboratory for experimental design and research reflecting on digital society. The Design Research Lab investigates possible futures through playful interventions, critical making, and collaborative reasoning. As a platform and network, they are deeply involved with the requirements and policies needed for society’s inclusive and sustainable development from a design perspective. It requires an interdisciplinary team of designers, researchers, tech enthusiasts and critical thinkers.

Why Acre Design Lab?

For the Acre House, I have decided to reuse the building and use it sustainably as a symbol of adaptive architecture. I want the Acre House to support all residents, employees and students. The Acre House is in the West of Scotland Science Park. Being surrounded by research facilities can help the Design Research Lab grow and educate the current community. On the other hand, it connects people across Glasgow (architects, designers, activists, students, families, researchers) interested in working toward a better future for our everyday lives. Design Research Labs are researching new opportunities for a better everyday life and designing solutions for people and the planet. Innovate new materials, hold events to educate people, and promote progress. 


  • Why?

Will sustainable innovation and design become the future of every design and architectural studio?

It’s our responsibility to create sustainable and ethical designs. Design shouldn’t be used to exploit the environment. It should act upon identified opportunities to develop better and more sustainable ways of living.

Adaptive reuse of the Glasgow Acre House ruin becomes a Design Lab. It has excellent potential to become a space for innovative design within its ruin envelope. It is neighbouring by residential flats and houses, but the site is very intimate, due to trees hiding it from the street.

It is substantial to mention that the Acre House stands near The West of Scotland Science Park. The park provides a location for a broad scope of facilities to gain support from- laboratories, environmental institutions, technology innovation companies and other research labs across the area.

  • How?

The Acre facility will become a space where we can bring together experts and creatives from multiple fields-collaboration networks to bring people together and provide conditions that support creative collisions. Repurposing the Acre House will evidence a sustainable future and, in addition, keep the facilities’ ideology.Thinking isn’t done by individuals; it is done by communities. The Design Lab innovate and promote its progress through pop-ups, hackathons, exhibitions and panel discussions. It will invite people to work with them on projects and research developments.

  • What?

The Acre Design Labs´ focal points are urbanisation, climate change, resource scarcity and innovation of sustainable materials and designs.The facility provides a cafe space where people can socialise and interact with the already-produced innovations.The building will be preserved sustainably from the exterior to its interior. The Acre Design Lab will use its vast land as a part of the research process for growing plants or accommodating insects and animals. It will offer space for exhibitions, community events or just a garden space for employees and the public to enjoy.The interior will become a gallery of innovative sustainable materials in use. It will include public spaces such as café, exhibition spaces and workshops for visitors to interact with the topic of sustainability and innovation. The first floor will be a private zone for workspaces, offices and archives for employees.

The Acre House is the opposite of what it used to be. The empty, abandoned ruin is now revived in full of life and creative ideas that empower people to drive positive change.

Existing Acre House image of tower

Acre House Design Lab Section

Exterior Pond

Exterior Courtyard

Interior Design

1. Exhibition – The exhibition space is for sharing ideas to receive feedback, enabling The Design Lab to adjust and improve design solutions. Collaboration makes it possible to quickly validate a design concept’s feasibility and desirability to a broader audience.

2. Workshop – The workshop is a flexible space for educational, research and creative activities. Pop Ups, hackathons, exhibitions and panel discussions. They are inviting residents to work with the Design Lab as a community.

3. Café – The café supports the research and education part of this facility. Space where ideas mingle, swap and create new forms. Thinking isn’t done by individuals; it is done by communities.

4. Archives – On the first floor, the archives work as a material library and store already-produced innovations. The ground floor archive is a shop where people can buy Lab-created Designs and, in this way, fund Acre Design Lab.

5. Office – The office is a private part of the building for employees to work, connected to the Lab workshop—an environment where people and ideas can meet.

6. Lab – The Lab workshop is where experts and creatives from multiple fields collaborate. They use special equipment, test, prototype and create new design processes.

Design Lab Facility

Entrance Reception

The tower is the main entrance to the building, where people see and enjoy the full height of it. It is almost a time portal through the existing ruin into the new design and use of the building. At the same time, visitors get a peak at the Design Lab office. Walking further into the building, they are welcomed with unusual , futuristic materials and continue to uncover them throughout the interior.

Design Lab Exhibition Space

The Exhibition space is an essential part of the facilities cycle. It spreads over the wing of the building with a view of the garden. It is connected with the greenery and pond reflection returning to the building, creating an organic atmosphere. The space itself works as a tool for connecting people with ongoing dilemmas of our living, but on the other hand, promotes positive progress in innovation and more sustainable options. The space educates and involves communities in their research projects as a useful tool for better and faster results. The exhibition space is also for communities or visitors to create markets to sell local or handmade products.

Design Lab Café

The Design Lab Café is a place where people socialise, exchange ideas, try new things, and come into contact with new knowledge.

Ground Floor Archive

The Design Lab archives stretch from the ground to the first floor. They are an essential storage system to archive already made prototypes in the Acre Lab. They are also used as a material archive or any tool archive. The ground floor archive can be accessed by public or collaboration visitors under staff supervision. Employees of the Acre Design Lab only use the first-floor archive.


The void leaves the building open, and the new insertion feels minimal. The first floor almost floats in the building, unlocking the ability to spy in different spaces. People can still enjoy the building to its roof and see the interior materials integrate. This collage points out the primary materials: blond stone, birch plywood and fabric, creating the atmosphere and identity of the building.

Office Archive

The office archive is only available to employees and serves as storage. The archive faces the lift and stairs. The storage system is a wooden structures that can be adjusted to any storage box size or placement. The shape of the tower openings was inspired by the building’s window bays, a dominant architectural feature. I have translated this shape into detail of my design.

Tower Detail Section

The Tower of the Acre Hosue is a void, but functions as a connecting point of public and private zones of the building. The Tower is entirely open, with three openings on the first floor. The dominant chandelier in the tower void represents the original use of the Acre House Villa building. The chandelier is made from shredded silver paper that imitates the traditional chandeliers usually located by the entrance to the building.

Design Lab Office

The office is a flexible space with a kitchenette, meeting table and library. It is offering employees to change their layout freely. The kitchenette can be closed off with silver curtains if needed. The office space gives the impression of a floating floor inserted into the ruined structure, which offers to ability to peak in different spaces like the tower, exhibition space and workshop. The main dividing wall of the office is a part of the remaining ruin, which creates a contrast between the new and existing.

Design Lab Workspace

The Lab/workshop’s main feature is the existing ruin fracture supported by a wooden scaffolding and a grid shelves from the other side. It creates tension between new and old a divides workspaces.

Design Concept

I am saving the Acre House and repairing it therefore; the scaffolding uncovers the story of the building coming together with the building construction materials that are used in its interior. The scaffolding inspiration is translated into the interior design of Acre House as wooden construction that creates structure together with fabric to support the first floor and creates a flexible space for the exhibition space located below the first floor and highlights the building’s void. The wooden construction creates a skeleton for the lift and exterior courtyard spaces.

Scaffolding Inspiration


Technical detail of wooden scaffolding

Time Diagrams

The three diagrams show how the curtains on the wooden “scaffolding” operate during the facility’s opening hours. The curtains are used as the inspiration from scaffolding structures and divide spaces and reduce noise during busy hours. At 8 AM, the employees come to the Office and Lab, and the Café is preparing to open at 9 AM with the exhibition space. At 12 PM, the building buzzes with people coming to the café, exhibition space and small shop. Therefore, the Office and Lab pull down their curtains to reduce noise. At 6 PM, the Café is closed, but the exhibition space is still open until 8 PM. Thus, the curtains almost hide the area, preventing the first floor from looking lifeless in the evening. The office can pull up its curtains again.

Scaffolding option 1.

The wooden scaffolding works as a flexible structure with the possibility to adjust exhibition space to many types and needs for display or events. The diagrams demonstrate design possibilities for presenting displayed work and the structures’ flexibility. 01 Plywood tables for exhibition or market display. 02 Option 1. Plywood boards for presenting work. 03 Option 2. Plywood board for presentations.

Scaffolding option 2.

The use of fabric divides spaces. The idea is derived from scaffolding and buildings during construction. The 04 and 05 fabric material operates as a divider or a surface for pining up work. It can also be used as a tool to hide the exhibition space if it’s being prepared. The contrast between the robust skeleton and soft fabric repeats itself around the building and becomes a feature of the Acre Design Lab.

Events and activities

The exhibition space is a zone for indoor events. Exhibitions of Design Lab work or work from courses. Party events of final projects. Pop ups of markets, handmade products, and community activities. Feedback from community activities on ongoing projects and research. Local food markets or other products made by local companies.

Events and activities

The workshop space operates as an educational part of the Acre Design Lab to invite people to learn skills that support a sustainable way of living or become a part of the research progress and work with the Design Lab team as a community. DIY courses Presentations Workshop space

Online Portfolio


3D Model

Acre House Design Lab 3D model