MSA Stage 3 School of Architecture

Ellis Little (she/her)

Ellis is a stage 3 Bachelor of Architecture (Hons) student with a passion for experiential architecture. Through her projects she aims to create spaces and atmospheres which make an impact on those who experience them. She enjoys using renewable materials such as timber and rammed earth to create interesting forms and spaces while considering her choices’ impacts on the environment.

This year she has used this passion to create a hidden town “escape” for the people of glasgow to learn new life skills and cultivate healthier lives (Maryhill Urban Food Exchange, seen left). This project, as well as the collaborative interact project, has allowed her to push her personal boundaries and consider how her designs impact and influence their surroundings.

Ellis can be found at the links below:

Maryhill Urban Food Exchange
Initial Group Research
Energy, Landscape, Culture
The Hub
The House
Sections and Visuals
InterACT – Anniesland Vertical Farm

Maryhill Urban Food Exchange

the canals of glasgow have been an integral part of the cities culture; the waterways have brought people together in a variety of ways. In recent times, however, the canals have seen less activity and so have hidden away in the shadows of the city. this project aims to bring life back to the canals by creating a fun and safe space to learn in the heart of Maryhill.

A look under the carpet.

This is the concept for the Maryhill Urban Food Exchange (UFEx); a retreat for the young people and families struggling in poverty in Maryhill. Here they can learn to grow their own plants and vegetables so that they can cultivate healthy lifestyles. The UFEx lifts the “carpet” of the canal-side landscape creating an undulating canopy for the UFEx “town” – the site is an escape for those in need to start a new adventure in life as they learn new skills. Visitors can make themselves at home in the UFEx town as they learn and grow together.

energy, landscape, culture

An exploration of the project's key themes within the Maryhill Locks site.

Locks wildlife

Locks construction

A look at the development taking place near the proposal site.


A view from the hill

Standing on site, looking across the canal.

Initial Group Research

The Urban Food Exchange (UFEx) consists of two parts: a Hub where visitors can grow produce and take classes to learn how to live healthier lives, and a House where residents will stay during their retreat to the Hub. In the hub and on planting sites nearby Maryhill Locks vegetables and produce will be grown and prepared by hub visitors. This produce will make its way along the canal to local communities and further beyond, allowing more struggling young people and families to access healthy foods easily.

The proposal is like a series of steps which you take on your journey from one end of the UFEx to the other. ramps are included for a gradual incline and an enjoyable walk through the site. This proposal is designed to combine organic and geometric form in harmony, as the differences between each come together and enhance their respective qualities.

The Urban Food Exchange

An explanation of the Urban Food Exchange project and its process.

Hub Produce

Assorted plants grown through the UFEx.

Large scale site plan

Site sun paths

Site plan

Step diagram 1

Step diagram 2

Yin Yang

Harmony in the combination of organic and modular form.

Energy, Landscape, Culture

The main themes for the Urban Food Exchange project are energy, landscape, and culture. These are the three main items considered in designing this proposal.

Energy: The proposal aims to take advantage of all natural energy resources available, using water source heat pumps for natural heat gain and large roof lights for day lighting. A sustainable drainage system in the roof also collects water to be used on site.

Landscape: The proposal follows the form of the natural landscape, with the grass-topped canopy blending to match the surrounding terrain. The open design of the “town” formed by small rammed-earth buildings under the canopy creates a direct connection to the canal front.

Culture: The proposal aims to help young people and families struggling in poverty, a large problem in Maryhill and surrounding areas in Glasgow. This project will create a community space where people can learn about the environment and growing produce, while connecting them to the historic canal site.

Landscape - Lifting the carpet

How the form of the canopy is created; a look under the "carpet" of the hillside.


Metropol Parasol, Jurgen H. Mayer


National Museum of Qatar gift shop, Koichi Takada Architects


Ruins Studio, Lily Jenks and Nathanael Dorent

Energy - Water Pump

A water source heat pump harnesses the energy of the canal by taking heat from the water to heat the buildings.

Energy - Flooring detail

Underfloor heating is used for a cost and energy efficient way to regulate indoor temperature.

Culture - community

The Urban Food Exchange will help the people of Maryhill to develop healthier lifestyles and find joy in connection with the environment.

initial tectonic model

tectonic model development

Exploration of light and depth

Energy - roof openings

The Hub

The ground floor of the hub is where everything gets put into action. Visitors can make their way to Production Avenue to learn how to wash, dry, sort and pack produce which gets sent out across Glasgow. Market Street holds an assortment of daily grocers’ and produce markets, and directly across the Shopping Boulevard houses stores selling working gear and seeds to take home and plant.

Hub Ground Floor

The Hub

Hub market

Hub First Floor

First floor model

First Floor model

The House

The rooftop garden allows residents of the UFEx to take care of produce on site – the rooftop garden is accessible at any time, and residents can take what they need during their stay. Rooftop gardens such as these encourage visitors to bond as they grow produce together while able to enjoy the views across the canal.

House plan

The House

A look through the roof

roof garden plan

Roof garden model

Activities for all

The roof garden allows for residents of all ages to come together and learn to cultivate produce.


The proposal structure is heavily influenced by the work of Jurgen H. Mayer in Metropol Parasol – the main structure consists of a CLT interlocking waffle assembly. Due to the strength provided by the lattice-like structure, the canopy is able to span large distances and support its undulating nature.

The choice of CLT allows for a lightweight and easy to assemble structure, easing construction and therefore lowering energy usage. This means the structure can also easily be taken apart and the materials recycled, however the aim of the proposal is to allow for change in use of the large interior spaces to maximise the lifespan of the building.

The “trees” of the structure are secured to the foundations with steel poles attached to the bottom of each tree. The structure itself is very sturdy due to its interlocking pieces and so visitors will be able to walk on the roof as if it is part of the hill.


Structural tree

Sections and Visuals


Site cross-section

Perspective Section

InterACT – Anniesland Vertical Farm

The InterACT project involved designing a vertical farm from the gasworks in Anniesland. These gasworks would be used as offsite growing space for the hub to produce more vegetables.

The project proposes a series of floors suspended through a central core, with trusses attached to the existing structure adding extra support to these floors. Each floor consists of a mix of soil and hydroponic planters, allowing for a wide range of produce to be grown on site.

This project was particularly challenging as it offered the first opportunity to work in a multi-disciplinary design team. Working with engineers and quantity surveyors gave an insight to the architectural industry, and presented unique challenges in resolving design, structural, and cost issues.


Vertical Farm visual

Site plan

Floor Plans

Roof Plan

Initial concept

Initial planter concept

suspended core concept