Shona Beattie (she/her)
The Barras Centre for Material Skills and Reclamation
Within Glasgow’s Barras, elements of transience, flexibility and impermanence exist in juxtaposition to a strong sense of identity, history, and community. The thesis position draws parallel aims from both sides of this context of celebrating the bricolage and diversity of narratives within the site, whilst recognising the need for a more permanent approach to address urban, environmental and civic issues apparent in the present day.
The Centre for Material Skills and Reclamation brings together these ideas by connecting people and organisations with reclamation across the city, supporting material reuse and collective learning. The programme draws from and connects organisations across Glasgow already working in this area, such as the Circular Arts Network and the Material Considerations Library. Without the onsite storage of materials, the focus lies on combining the qualities shared among them of a physical place, tangible material experiences and connections to various locations and resources across the city. These connections become a fitting symbol for the celebration of multiple narratives drawn together in this new urban building, celebrating democracy, collaboration and community in the civic realm.
These ideas are embedded and expressed in the materiality and structure of the building itself. The use of stone for the main structure and envelope allows the promotion of modern re-learning of traditional material knowledge and understanding drawing from the context of Glasgow’s built environment. These outer stone walls form a shell which further building components slot into, from an internal structural ring down to infills of reclaimed materials. This conceptual approach to the materiality of the building was explored through a process of model making using plaster casts at different scales.
The urban housing project similarly responds to the identity of the site, built up over time through people’s experiences and outliving many variations of urban form. Through the approach to the themes of domesticity and labour, the proposal aims to celebrate the history of the area whilst also recognising this transience and drawing connections between different eras represented within the present moment.
The manifestation of this concept begins with the physical organisation of the site around the placeholders of Pearson’s, Bill’s Tool Store and the sycamore tree, the later recognising that any new proposal may come and go well within the lifespan of this tree. The organisation also takes account of existing uses of the site both longstanding and newly established, including the weekend markets along Stevenson Street, the retail spaces of the tool and electrical stores and the outdoor dining and seating area used by BAad.
The ground floor of the site is proposed as a series of new repair workshops, drawing from Glasgow’s existing Remade Network. These workshops allow people to bring in preloved items to be repaired and then returned or sold, supporting the historic markets and working in tandem with the existing stores at Pearson’s and Bill’s. The unused floors above Pearson’s are also proposed as a new tool library for the site as well as for use by the wider public, challenging a throwaway culture by encouraging a transience of adaptation and regeneration.
Above the workshops, vertically stacked units are envisioned as an opportunity for a collective/multigenerational living arrangement. Services are pulled to one side to allow for a more open floor plan which can be subdivided to suit different occupants.