Prize Winner

Stakis Prize

Interior Design School of Design

Rachel Hendry

(She/Her)

Rachel is a designer and visual artist whose practice spans interiors, installation, video, and printmaking. This interdisciplinary approach informs her work which explores immersive spatial environments and their impact on human emotion, learning, and creation.

Rachel graduated from Glasgow School of Art with a BA(Hons) in Painting & Printmaking before working as an artist and project manager in the visual arts and festival sector across Scotland. She returned to GSA in 2021 to expand her practice in interior and spatial design.

Contact
rachelhendrystudio@gmail.com
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Works
Gasworks
Site
Enter
Obscurity
Light
Infinity
Privation
Sound
Vastness
Magnificence
Floor Plans

Gasworks

 

A collective experience of the sublime sparking curiosity and creativity to transform the way we look at the world.

 

The Sublime

The concept of the sublime originated in the 1st century AD, becoming a major topic of aesthetic theory in the 18th century. In 1756 Edmund Burke published A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful in which he set out his concept of sublimity, arguing that the sublime and the beautiful are mutually exclusive. Broken down into several defining pillars, Burke’s theory focuses on the physical manifestations produced by the sublime and the resulting duality of emotions from terror to delight that they evoke.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Set within the monumental structure of gasholder no.5 in Kelvindale Glasgow, Gasworks is a series of permanent installations exploring seven pillars of Burke’s sublime: Obscurity, Light, Infinity, Privation, Sound, Vastness, & Magnificence.

Each immersive space is designed to provoke a distinct emotional response from isolation and fear to bliss and euphoria. When experienced collectively, feelings of the sublime take hold.

Video exploring the distinct emotional and atmospheric qualities of the seven installations which collectively form an immersive experience of the sublime. Using collaged video and sound comprising of recorded and found footage, the work aims to transport the viewer into the proposed interior world of the reimagined Gasworks site.

Stimulating Imagination 

Recent scientific research into the sublime suggests it has the power to enable us to act more collaboratively and stimulate our imagination. The installation harnesses this potential to give visitors a fresh perspective on the world we inhabit.

The journey through all seven spaces provides an escape from the everyday provoking creativity and enhancing connection through shared experience.

To capture this effect, a series of interconnected spaces at the end of the journey offer areas for individual reflection and collective interactions. Visitors can record their experiences through writing, drawing and conversation, transforming the space into a thought machine to gather ideas.
Shaping the Future

The reflective data generated by visitors create a valuable source of research. Spaces for academics from Glasgow University’s Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience sit alongside the installations. Research labs, screening rooms, lecture theatres, a library and archive facilitate interdisciplinary learning to investigate the impact of the sublime and sensory experience on human imagination and emotions.

Gasholder no.4 sits adjacent to the site in a skeletal form. An amphitheatre and garden fill the industrial ruins, creating an extension of the reflection spaces where the public can speculate, discover, and imagine alternative futures.

Site

 

‘They are iconic structures that dominate the landscape. An imaginative reuse of the interiors would completely enhance their impact on the city.’

 

Temple Gasworks is located in Kelvindale, a predominantly residential area in the West End of Glasgow. Two gasholders, no.4 and no.5, remain on the site and are a striking feature in the local landscape.

The gasholders are among the last surviving structures in Scotland. They are a rare monument to the once massive scale of Scotland’s gas industry and an important reminder of Glasgow’s industrial past.

The gasworks are located beside the Forth & Clyde canal and a railway network connecting the east and west of the city. Although no longer servicing the gasworks, the canal system and railway lines remain an important feature of the site. The footpaths and desire lines etched into the local landscape evidence the close relationship passersby have with the monumental structures.

GASHOLDER NO.5

Existing steel frame 71m in diameter 44.5m in height composed of 24 steel lattice standards, braced by three tiers of steel lattice box girders

Enter

Two existing entrances into an old railway tunnel reveal themselves between Gasholder no.4 & no.5. The tunnel slowly descends leading visitors into the sunken tank of gasholder no.5 15m underground.

Visitors cross multiple thresholds on entering Gasworks each designed to build anticipation ahead of the journey through the installation spaces. 

After descending through the dark and compressed space of the tunnel, visitors emerge into a double height entrance lobby. The vast space stretches 23m high with large sections of glazing revealing the gasholder’s imposing steel structure.

A monumental light sculpture Chain Reaction designed by Studio Stallinga fills the vast void. 144 circles of light are linked together forming a 7m diameter chain suspended from above. The sculpture explores the complex nature of time, its glow gradually shifting from soft to intense throughout the course of one day.
 
 
 
 

The chain hangs at a 23.4 degree angle, representing the axial tilt of the Earth. The circular shapes of the sculpture speak to the form of the gasholders and nod to several themes within the installations yet to be explored.

The entrance spaces lead to the decompression zone, a meditative space creating a circuit break between the outside world and the immersive interior of Gasworks. Low level lighting and a soft material palette provide a moment of pause before the journey begins.

Obscurity

In the first installation, a maze winds its way round the basement level of Gasworks. Feelings of uncertainty, confusion, disorientation, and fearfulness take hold and the familiar becomes unfamiliar.

Walls, ceilings, and floors tilt, rise and fall to create moments of intense compression and expansion. As visitors meander through the maze navigating wrong turns and dead ends low level lighting guides their way. The shadowy paths heighten other senses including touch. The material palette is intentionally tactile and changes unexpectedly to enhance a feeling of uncertainty.
 
 
 
 
 

Floor finishes transition from raised clay pebble to sand set in resin before solidifying into adobe, a rammed earth finish. 3D printed clay forms the first wall surface composed of layered coils with subtle changes in texture. Half way through the maze the walls change to translucent concrete. Its light filtering surface distorts the shadowy forms of visitors as they lose their way in the maze.

Interior maze view

Light

The shadowy depths of the maze are left behind as bright light spills down the ramped approach to the next installation. Here, three distinct spaces explore the extremes of light and dark.

The spatial form of the installation takes cues from the design of pre-film animation devices the zoetrope and its successor the praxinoscope. The cyclindrical shape and evenly spaced slits of the devices are reminiscent of the gasholders’ shape and steel standards. Echoing the gasholders’ structure, 24 monolithic pillars form a ring towering above an inner cylindrical film screen.

In the first space, a circular corridor is filled with an overwhelming white light. The intense contrast after the darkness of the maze is dazzling.
 
 
 
 

A sense of hopefulness and clarity evoked in the first space quickly gives way to an unnerving terror in the second area where the shadowy monoliths loom over the space in an unending circle. The coffered ceiling creates intense areas of darkness and shadow.

In the third and final space, light moves quickly like flashes of lightening. A flexible LED screen envelops the circular walls playing a strobe like black and white film creating a sense of spinning movement.

Section scale 1:50 (A2)

Infinity

Thousands of metal washers suspended and put into motion by direct current motors hang throughout the space of the third installation evoking feelings of boundlessness and ‘delightful terror’.

As visitors ascend the mirrored spiral staircase from Light, they emerge into a tight ring of curving mirrored panels. The panels gradually unfold taking the form of the infinitely repeating logarithmic or golden spiral.
 
 
 
 
 

Endlessy reflected in their surfaces is a kinetic sculpture created by the artist Zimoun. Reimagined site specifically for Gasworks, thousands of washers hang from strings controlled by dc-motors. They spin and brush against a dark polished concrete floor creating a repetitive motion and uniform noise.

Axonometric showing Zimoun kinetic sculpture detail with prepared dc-motors, string, washers Ø 40mm
Curved mirror panels and kinetic sculpture detail. Scale 1:20 and 1:5 (A3)

Privation

The fourth installation takes the form of an anechoic chamber. It envelops a series of vacuous inner spaces void of sound and visual stimulus. Experienced in solitude, strong feelings of isolation and vulnerability are evoked.

Materials with acoustic properties are important in this installation. In the first area, sound is significantly dampened before dissipating entirely in the final inner void spaces.

Stabilised aluminium foam panels form a layered acoustic barrier, their low density allowing a large percentage of sound waves to be absorbed. The blue acoustic foam pyramids are used in anechoic chambers, rooms with no echo. Carbon loaded polyurethane is most commonly used and the pyramid shape
 
 
 
 

creates free field conditions in which no sound reflection occurs. The foam pyramids fully encase the final space in the installation, removing all sound.

Seven inner spaces offer a solitary experience void of sensory stimulus. To achieve this effect the room is constructed as an infinity cove. Plasterboard and flexible plywood are attached to a CLS stud framework before being sealed, plastered and painted white. Dry ice is used to enhance the illusion of boundless space.

One of seven inner spaces offering a solitary experience void of sensory stimulus.

Sound

Concentric steel sheets hang from an open metal grid. Loudspeakers attached to their surface amplify the vibrations of the metal surfaces filling the space with terrifying noise before dissolving into silence.

The steel sheets echo the construction details of the gasholder’s shell. Hung in three concentric circles, they gradually increase in height suggestive of the three-tier telescopic construction of the original structure.

The loudspeakers amplify metalic vibrations which are recorded on a loop becoming louder and louder building to a crescendo before suddenly stopping, filling the space with silence. After a short time the sounds begin again. Each ring
 
 
 
 
 

of steel is hung a short distance from the next so that the sound vibrations become a tangible sensation felt in the body.

Steel has been selected as the main material for the space for its connection to the site and its acoustic properties. It has a sound absorption coefficient of 0.03 absorbing 3% of all sound waves and reflecting the other 97% intensifying the sonic experience.

Vastness

In the penultimate installation, visitors stand like gods at the top of three deep voids and peer down into the depths of the maze. They watch small forms attempt to navigate the unknown space below.

The three curved voids cut through four floors plunging 33m into the depths of the gasholder until they reach ground level. There, they open up to reveal a birds eye view of the maze located in the basement. The viewing space at the top of the voids has the lowest ceiling height of all the installations to heighten the sense of depth.

The voids are tilted so that those looking down have a clear view of the disorientated forms navigating their way through the first installation. However, visitors looking up from the maze see only the angled inner walls of the voids. This spatial device creates a feeling of god-like power in the viewer.

Magnificence

The seventh and final installation gives way to blissful euphoria. Open to the sky, the space fills with a rainbow of diffracted light. Unreachable stairs ascend skywards, reinforcing our diminutive scale in the face of nature.

The large circular opening punched through the domed ceiling of the gasholder is a dramatic first encounter with the outside world since visitors first descended into the basement of Gasworks. Natural light floods the space and rain water pools in the centre of the floor creating another surface for light to reflect from.
 
 
 
 

Smaller apertures piercing the steel roof are glazed and coated with diffraction film filling the space with an intense rainbow of colour. Germens Ermics’ ombre glass Horizon Screens and Tokujin Yoshioka’s Water Block bench speak to the ephemerality of the installation and further intensify the spectrum of colours.

Floor Plans

Floor Plans