I am a Northern Irish student who joined GSA this year having completed my Architecture (BSc) at Queen’s University Belfast. This year’s Urban Housing and Urban Building projects were located in adjacent sites in Glasgow’s Barras. Themes across my projects have explored how nature could be reincorporated into urban environments as humanity conscientiously readdresses its relationship with nature and how architecture can facilitate this. Existing buildings were incorporated into both my urban housing and urban building projects with low embodied carbon materials utilised where possible.
As Scotland aims to be a global leader on climate change, activism within the community will be supported through the Climate Action Centre. The institution will provide climate concerned bodies with a public face, blending research into public life. The community will be rallied into action through the public wing where a debate chamber encourages democracy through its circular seating arrangement. Interactive workshops further engage the public with research, spilling out to the centre’s ‘internal street’ where impromptu encounters are facilitated and the building is opened to the elements. This circulation route acts as an extension of the labyrinth of streets in the Barras and helps blend the controlled environment of the centre with nature.
Laboratories in the research wing will investigate initiatives to tackle the climate crisis and monitor climate change in Glasgow. Nature is invited back into the built environment through the design, not just as a framed picturesque element, but through the incorporation of stacked nurseries. Plants grown will then be distributed to Glasgow’s brownfield sites to mature and will therefore help to assist in Scotland’s ‘green recovery’.
Natural materials used wherever possible to reduce embodied carbon in the building and encourage users to feel more engaged with the natural world. A Glulam structure housing the auditorium, café and screen room is protected by a stone colonnade which supports balconies and the stacked nurseries. This colonnade wraps around the civic building connecting the distinct elements of the programme and acts as an exoskeleton for the laboratory and workshop/ library zones. An existing building on site is retained to house growing laboratories, encouraging Glasgow’s remaining industrial building stock and left-over land to be adapted in a similar manner.
My Urban Housing project aimed to offer the dweller a more enjoyable living experience where domestic tasks are ritualised and integrated with opportunities for social interaction and connections to nature. The cell units are composed of ‘lived-in’ furniture devices in which the dwelling can be read as a kit of parts related to domestic activities, hence creating a series of experiences of domesticity through the home.
The modular units sit atop a composition of levels which creates the idea of the home as a topography and further distinguishes the areas of domesticity and rest. The furniture units define spaces and aim to create moments of ‘joy’ such as the incorporation of a view to the shared court or winter garden of the cell. The dwelling would therefore offer more than an efficient means of living, encouraging the dweller to slow down, in contrast to the fast pace experienced in contemporary life
‘Labour’ is distinct from home life and domesticity, reinstating the home as a place where the wellbeing of the dwellers is prioritised rather than the home acting as an extension of labour. Amenities, commercial space and office units are located on the ground floor, surrounding a courtyard for the wider public, encouraging a greater sense of community and reactivating the streets of the Barras.