Urban Building in Barras Market, Glasgow
Barras market has been an important cultural and social part of Glasgow’s history. A place of exchange and a public space for the confluence of people of the city. However the area has been in decline since the post-industrial era, leaving Barras Market without public activity, and a lack of community facilities. In an attempt to create urban renewal, the programme is born out of the communities’ needs and a desire for a public offering to the city. This includes the arts, making, music and theatre. It is hoped the layering of cultural programmes onto the Barras Market can create a reinjection of a multitude of human exchanges to take place. In doing this, the building could be seen as a microcosm of the city, a market place or even a macrocosm of a bric-a-brac stall in itself.
The theatre is the primary programme for the building, drawing from the origins of the Barras Market where sellers were actors with the city as the stage and pedestrians became the audience. The theatre space therefore returns to the ancient typology of street theatre with blurred thresholds between performance and theatre, stage and city. The typology has a porous border with many points of entry and exit from lanes and streets; the stage is a public space where multiple performances can occur at the same time as well as everyday activities can be carried out; the surrounding buildings form the backdrop with their own programme activating the theatre and when there is no performance the space is returned as part of the city. This creates a far more accessible and ambiguous space for the pluralistic contemporary world, with many diverse opportunities of use and ways for people to interact with Barras Market, the city and one another. It creates a charged intensity of human activity.
This reframing of theatre by returning to the origins of the medium in influences the primary aim of the building to allow the community to gain spaces to perform the ACT of cultural exchange in the STAGE of the city. The community complex aims at being an extension of the life of the market, and the creation of city rooms, interior streets and public spaces where the theatricality of life and the city can play out like scenes in a stage set. The building becomes the backdrop for the community to connect with each other in cultural programme and brings awareness to the performance of the everyday as a cultural artefact.