The Site

From a spatial point of view, the accessibility of the site, the underground building’s design challenges and the local community and cultural ecosystem posed the most significant challenges. The museum is located in a former railway tunnel and station under the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Although MoRaL is a separate initiative, the museum and the park share the same body as Siamese twins. Therefore, I always kept asking what the museum could give to the park as compensation for violating their tranquillity and normal operation by the construction.

Great Western Road entrance

As an underground place, the limited visibility that the entrances provide makes these decisions even more critical. These are the primary communication channel about the identity of the place. This is why I’ve chosen a statue as an astonishing design element. Statues have a special role within the museum, and it also expresses the human-centric theme of the museum.

Great Western Road reception

Because this is an underground building, the interior and the exterior is even more separated than usually, but I still wanted to establish a connection and provide visibility. The glass wall makes the illusion that the building is on the ground while the peeling-off roof directs the gaze down to the actual museum’s level.

Ford Road entrance

The new façade and the built-in courtyard evoke neo-brutalist features. I aimed to radiate strength, stability and durability, as this is an initiative with national significance. What is more, a museum is a kind of sanctuary of civilization. The peel-off design element with some modification appears on this entrance as well. Thus, the two entrances refer back to each other aesthetically. While the Great Western Road entrance provides transparency, this entrance represents more of a kind of mysticism. The conflicting qualities reflect on the interior’s characteristics.

Ford Road entrance bird view

The most neglected part of the park is at the former Kirklee station remnants, and it’s completely fenced now as it is unsafe. By the significant construction, this area could be part of the Gardens again.

Elevated entrance

The Ford Road entrance has two floors. Emergency exits are hidden under the museum entrance. On the one hand, this has aesthetic advantages, and on the other hand, the raised entrance is particularly beneficial in an underground facility. People have a natural frustration with underground structures. It can take the form of either excitement or fear. Excitement can enhance the mystique of the entrance, while fear can be resolved by the illusion that the entrance is being lifted, so people move upwards while they are going underground into a 200 meters long tunnel without direct sunlight.

Ventilation window water feature

The whole tunnel with the ventilation window is just a sad remnant of the past right now. But these voids could be suitable to create a water feature in it which could enrich the experience of the park visitors by an extra scenic picnic place.

Water feature from the inside

After the deprivation of the exhibition area, the station is all about social interaction, breathing, presence, feeling and perception. It is where the workshops take place. The open plan layout provides transparency, let the light in every room and corner. The rooms on each site are balancing between isolation and connection, privacy and publicness. Besides the social connectivity, establishing the connection with the Botanic Gardens was an important aspect within the interior through the aesthetic choices. Inviting water, plants and ground into space makes a calming atmosphere.

Horizontal and vertical divisions

The total inner height of the tunnel, by a horizontal division, allows creating a safety and service corridor with a separate ventilation system. For building engineering, I set aside extra space at the bottom of the tunnel. Inside the tunnel, separated escape corridors lead down a ramp with a gentle slope to the service corridor, where a direct exit opens to the surface. The whole tunnel with the safety corridor is fully accessible.

Emergency exit ramp

The corridor going down to the basement with the 50 m long ramp is a safe space and separated by a fire-rated wall from the museum level. The corridor is 1.5 m wide at the flooring, and with the curved wall, it should be suitable for one-direction traffic. This corridor shouldn’t be a neglected part of the design. In case of an emergency in an underground tunnel, the psychical stress on the people is expected to be larger than usual. Hopefully, the unique aesthetics of the architecture and the lighting can counteract the feeling of closure for that 1 minute when a person takes that 50 meters.