MSA Stage 4 BArch(Hons) Portfolio Prize

MSA Stage 4 School of Architecture

Rachel Crooks (She/Her)

The Barras Story Telling Archive
Co-Work / Co-Live / Co-Parent

The Barras Story Telling Archive

The Barras Market in Calton, Glasgow is not just a place for buying and selling. It has become a culture in itself. A microcosm, separate from the centre of Glasgow, where the idea of the civic, of interaction and of story telling is almost more important than the physical aspects of the city itself.

Therefore, in recognition of this and to further my project three thesis which focused on passing knowledge down through the generations I have investigated this exchange of stories that accompanies the exchange of goods at the Barras Market through a proposal for a:

‘Barras Story Telling Archive’

This analyses the architectural interface of Performing, Exchanging and Memorialising stories.

The Concrete poetry ‘Archives’ by Edwin Morgan became integral to the concept of my building as the letters of Generation upon Generation, fade out in recognition of a forgetfulness that accompanies story telling by word of mouth. I propose to counteract this through my Barras Archives.

A proximity to Glasgow green saw the opportunity for a reintegration with the city. Upon tracing this route on an initial site visit, the lack of intent this connection currently has was made obvious at the corner of London Road and Bain Street. This is the first point of contact with the Barras upon emergence from the green, it is disheveled and off putting- making it clear that there is impetus for development here.

The green not only connects the Barras to the city physically but notionally through its centrality to Glasgow’s historic industries at the time of the highland clearances. It therefore layers a cross cultural and recreational story telling back onto the Barras via proximity. This layering of stories and connection to industry underpins the key concepts of my proposal.

Archives by Edwin Morgan

The concept of the poem inspired the proposal for The Story Telling Archive in the Barras.

Ground Floor Plan

The plan is split between the headings, performing, exchanging and memorialising. The exchange of stories as the beginnings of the archival process has been centralised in the plan as in internal market courtyard which acts to draw the Barras Market into the space and root the building in its context

Story Telling Market Courtyard

This courtyard is then sandwiched between the theatre and the archives- It was crucial to orientate these spaces to be perpendicular to the courtyard to allow for long enfil-aid-ed vistas linked by the theatres bifolds and the feature staircase up to the archives. These layers of views which highlight the layers of storytelling penetrate, through to the external façade through glazed arches. These draw people in to the space and break down the elitist associations with archives encouraging the idea of entry without the need of an invitation.

Theatre and Pulley Collection Visualisation

To continue this linear connection into section, the archives and theatre are both linked vertically. In the archives this is achieved through 4 pulley systems which act to transport the artefacts down from the upper-level storage to the reading rooms. They are positioned to be seen from the central courtyard for programme legibility. Thematically, they are inspired by the historic use of Glasgow green as a drying ground where long washing lines were cast across the park -this concept has been transposed vertically here to link the archives with its context. The knowledge that is passed down in the pulleys is spread horizontally in plan where it meets the theatre. The stage is visible from the courtyard for performances of adaptable scale and features a central firepit symbolic of traditional story telling around a fire. The defining feature is its mechanical roof which dramatically draws the eye upward to reconnect the visitors with their context. The open air aspect of this roof acts to acoustically layer context through the sounds of the market onto the performance.

Site Plan

Connecting to Glasgow Green

London Road / Bain Street Visualisation

First point of contact with the Barras upon emergence from Glasgow Green

Enfiladed Vistas

Exploded Perspective

Exterior Perspective

Detailed Section

Perspective Section

1:100 Sectional Model Photos

Structural Bay Construction

A hybrid steel/ glulam primary structure has been used in order to meet the British Standard requirements that the archives have a four-hour fire rating. This has resulted in the inclusion of an ABEO SL concrete deck with a REI of 240. The steel structure helps support this without having to increase the size of the glulam beams to a point where the cost of build would be infeasible

Structural Bay Elevation

In terms of façade hierarchy- the use of steel structure with a masonry wrap around ground floor to connect old and new- reinforces the idea of Glasgow’s industry as being integral to the history of the barras and Glasgow green. The transition from a steel structure to timber in the courtyard notionally represents the trees in the green and anchors the proposal back to this connecting route. Finally, an inclusion of my initial poem inscribed onto Corten steel panels ; gives the building an identity – reinforces its concept and links the proposal through its colour to the defining Barras gates which characterise the Calton area.

Co-Work / Co-Live / Co-Parent

As a working parent in the city finding a balance between work, life and parenting can prove hectic.

My proposal is therefore to investigate how you can design a space which can allow adults to CO-WORK/ CO-LIVE AND CO-PARENT.

The design should allow adults to be able to set up and work with the peace of mind that their child is safe in their environment and that they can check up on them at any given time.  I propose to investigate how I can reinstate the old-fashioned idea that children can roam away from their family dwelling during play- doing this safely through an enclosed courtyard which is constantly perceived through passive surveillance. This should encourage curiosity and the idea that children learn through independent play.

In order to bring a new perspective into the co-working spaces I will investigate how I can create an intentional community formed of families and people living alone. This combats the issue of the loneliness associated with single person households and creates an additional ‘village of people’ from which the children – and parents – can learn from and bounce ideas off of. This could be done through intergenerational living and utilising the single units so grandparents can live near their families. Combining intergenerational living with co working spaces creates the idea of building and sharing a wealth of knowledge and skills to pass on to future generations and between family units

As a whole the development should allow for the growth of intentional communities with a reliance on trust and shared responsibility to allow for a healthy balance between life, work and domestic labour.


Courtyard Render

Site Programme

My thesis deals with the themes of intergenerational co-living, working and parenting as a means of sharing workloads and knowledge amongst all residents. In order to encourage this sharing of knowledge there is a public interface of domestic skills workshops along Moncur Street, this would encourage the residents (and the public) to learn skills that they may not have been lucky enough to have been taught growing up. They can then take these skills and apply them to home life sharing what they’ve learned with their peers in the co living spaces. I have interspersed community outreach spaces amongst the housing and workshop spaces as breakout points for encouraging the public and housing residents to mix. The bookend facing Bain Street sandwiches housing between the workshop spaces and a community hall as an edge condition which summarises the three key aspects that make up the block

Ground Floor Plan

My ground floor plan demonstrates how the three spheres - housing - domestic workshops - community outreach - manifest together in plan. It shows the main community routes that interface with the ground floor edge conditions leaving the courtyard as private. This encourages the public to weave in and out between proposed internal space and the street to allow for an enhanced variety of interaction.

Section A-A

Defensibility vs Existing Treatment

A grid connected to the façade onlooking the square creates a defensible space between the housing block and the public interface. As the block is located directly on the square it is inevitable people will gather in front of it. A metal mesh would be installed between the grid to encourage greenery to grow up it, maintaining a transparency with a heightened privacy from the public realm. The addition projecting out of the existing building is proposed to be made in a contrasting material in order to define old and new. I have kept the same profile, inset slightly to create the impression that old and new slot together to create one cohesive block.

'Tree House' Plans and Diagrams

The family units 'Tree Houses' are split between the two floors with the adult sleeping and living space on the ground floor. It functions as one open plan room with the bed able to be shut off using bifolds at night. The bed space can also be covered up by sliding a panel across and open as a desk space to the tree house co-working light well. The co working lightwell connects tree houses in both plan and section with openable windows allowing for an increased interaction and sharing of knowledge. The transformation between bed and desk creates an enforced isolation between live and work- the physical act of changing the space acts to calm the mind and prepare for rest.

'Tree House' Section and Diagram

The tree house entrance space also contains breakout balconies allowing a space to clear your head and provides passive surveillance to the courtyard and adjacent street. The children’s play and sleeping space happens on the level above within the cell, cargo nets allowing for visual interaction between both floors for adult-child supervision The units above are intended for two single people to live together in one fluid space with beds able to be shut off, their work space also looks onto the co working lightwell and is designed to combat loneliness.

First and Second Floor Plans

The Tree house typology is situated within Block A and B and are anchored to the floor plan with communal living spaces. These living spaces are orientated around the south most facades and utilise bricks and glazed facades for thermal mass and solar gain. The individual units form the most private part of the plan with a smaller scale interaction through the layering of treehouses in co working spaces and then further interaction is encouraged in the living / kitchen / dining spaces. All private bedrooms are orientated to face the courtyard with the communal spaces facing outward to the public square and surrounding streets.

'Tree House' Development Model

Living Space and Community Kitchen Visualisation