Urban Building – The People’s Library


A Palace for the People

The project brief is for a new library in Thornwood, Glasgow. After discussions with local libraries, including Partick Library on Dumbarton Road it has come to light that they have large amounts of local archives and pieces of Glasgow’s history that they wish to exhibit, but simply do not have the space or facilities. The project aims to challenge the idea of a library, no longer dedicated solely to written/read knowledge, but forming a multi-purpose building that offers opportunities to learn about Glasgow’s social and political past, whilst providing workspaces for students and professionals seeking community outside of their home offices; working from home being a new “industrial” revolution of our urban environment. The library will function as a large urban home, providing those who choose to use it with spaces of different atmospheres and uses: workspaces, the central ‘living room’, community dining space, roof gardens and allotments. The library will also have exhibition spaces and the large gathering space of the lecture hall/theatre offering democratic access to knowledge, in the way Carnegie originally proposed.








Architectural Ideas

The form is constructed of 3 main volumes: the theatre, the tower and the main library which wraps around the central void. The tower acts as a focal point, as the library is situated off the main road, it requires something to bring attention to it, welcoming people along the quieter street from Dumbarton Road or through the underpass from the River Clyde. It also acts as a viewing platform, with reading rooms and exhibition spaces made special by their elevation from the street level and the views across Glasgow that their height provides. The main grid lines of the building work with this somewhat jumbled site, rationalising the various angles of existing buildings by referencing the facade of the tenement and substation and angle of the health centre. The structure thus forms on this angled grid, creating the potential for interestingly shaped spaces within. The intention is that the theatre block appears as a separate element to the library spaces, contrasting in the material of brick, while the library’s timber structure appears to hang from it.

External View from Street

Site Plan

Floor Plans

Contextual Elevations and Section

Internal Library View

Perspective Section

Exploded Structure

Theatre Block Axonometric

Detail Elevation and Section

1:50 Detail Model Images

1:200 Model

Urban Housing – Knowing Your Neighbours

Creation of a new Streetscape

While retaining the industry within the block, due to the historical precedent for bakeries, dairies and mills in this space, the proposal aims to provide housing opportunities and create a pedestrianised streetscape through the block, providing a comfortable mixed-use neighbourhood that invites people to wander through this block, interacting with neighbours and local businesses housed there. The housing blocks converge with a public square, an extension of the new church gardens creating a large open convivial space with the potential for markets to be held or for the church to spill out.



Community within the Block

The neighbourhood of Thornwood has one of the highest percentages of single person households in Glasgow. While acknowledging that some people like living alone this project aims to tackle issues of loneliness and provision of care, of old and young, through the creation of an interlinked diverse community. The housing proposals vary in size to suit families with children, young professionals and elderly people living alone. In an encouragement for these people to have greater interaction with their neighbours, communal workspaces and laundries are centred around the circulation to enable planned meetings of groups within the community, happenstance meetings and to create an extension of each unit’s living space. The design of deck access allows an extension of the private realms within residences into the outdoor shared areas. The decks are designed with increased width and inbuilt seating to provoke pause for conversations with neighbours.


Floor Plans



Unit Axonometric Diagrams

Detail Elevation - South

Detail Elevation - North

Thornwood – Initial Neighbourhood Research

Thornwood, Glasgow – Living in Agreement

Thornwood is an area built upon the Industrial Revolution of the River Clyde,specifically Tod & MacGregor’s Meadowside Shipyard. The neighbourhood is primarily residential, dominated by red and blonde sandstone tenements with some examples of 20th Century housing including Crathie Court, nicknamed the Spinster Flats. The area once featured may mills and factories, manufacturing anything from cotton to steel, but the majority of these buildings have now been demolished to make way for new housing; there are only a few remnants of Thornwood’s industrial beginnings left, including a number of churches, Partick Fire station and the neighbouring electrical substation. The busy Dumbarton Road runs through the neighbourhood to the south with the only remaining connection to the river through the underpass on Meadow Road, adjoining. Today, Thornwood is a busy neighbourhood connecting with Broomhill and Partick.

Initial research revealed that Thornwood is one of the areas with the highest percentage of single-person households in Glasgow, leading to issues of loneliness and isolation particularly affecting young people and the elderly. This was something I considered in both the housing project and the public building, considering diversification of the community’s demographic and providing convivial spaces where people are free to gather and feel more of a part of the community.