Led by Isabel Deakin for Unit 2 Year 3, Department of Architecture, Strathclyde University
Who? Unit 2, Year 3 University of Strathclyde, Architecture Department
Where? The Barras, Glasgow
What? A detailed urban building project focussing on individual responses to the question posed regarding regeneration of the Barras whilst staying true to its roots. The students tackled issues of gentrification and appropriateness in relation to community and development.
In today’s ever changing social and political landscape it is becoming more essential that any new architectural venture is rooted in an understanding of place and its people. It is no longer valid to superimpose an idea onto a community or to drop a public building on a site and expect success.
We as architects are now being challenged to understand the locale that we are working in and to design accordingly taking cognisance of the community that we are addressing whether this is an established one or a developing one.
The research ground that the unit were tasked with was the Barras, Glasgow. There has recently been a proposed £30 million investment by Glasgow City Council to turn the Barras into an arts, music and events quarter, key to reinvigorating the Barras, the Council claimed, was using the area’s connection with music as a platform, along with its increased popularity as a location for artists.
The Barras was established in the early 20th century by the now famous Maggie McIver. Once a bustling market in recent years the Barras has become much quieter and the area is suffering from years of neglect and a lack of activity during the week.
The students were asked to interrogate the proposed investment through research and investigation into the locale and make a judgement on it. They were asked to take into consideration the current daily and weekly cycle of activity in the area and how this could be addressed. Issues of gentrification were analysed and a clear attitude to this influenced their undergraduate thesis proposal.
The development of the proposal was designed as a two tier process which looked at the locale and the proposed activity. They were to be integrated and holistically designed so that the performance and success of the proposal was assured.
Zalia Ivanova : Beyond the Shed
The project aims to re-establish the lost sense of involvement and entertainment through audience-participatory theatre, where the stage literally and metaphorically merges into a single space. In addition, a radio broadcasting station, operating from the proposed building, will be the medium to distribute those new stories and become the voice of the Barras.
Following a personal investigation, the Barras has been compared to Las Vegas in its resemblance to the “decorated sheds” as conceptualized by Venturi, Scott-Brown and Izenour in Learning from Las Vegas. As a result of this analogue, the project developed an architectural response to Barrowland as the best example of a billboard-like façade with a statement sign. Explicitly referring to its function, the proposed shed is stripped from ornamental decoration, being left only with graphical one. The building becomes not only verbal, but also visual communication tool for the life in the market.
Sited on a neglected corner in the Barrowlands is a purposed theatre that does not follow the status quo. Instead of a traditional horizontal theatre, the proposed performance space is based on the vertical axis, allowing for performances to engage and address the audience directly. Opting to perform experimental pieces of theatre, these performances engage directly with the people of the Barras aiming to connect to them instead of alienating them like traditional theatre has done with the working class.
The building seeks to engage deeply with the audience on many different levels through use of material and tectonic walls the building provides a unique infrastructure for the public to inhabit and absorb the building. The main performance space is simple and sincere space opting to bring the performers as close to the audience as possible whilst providing a flexible space that can house a verity of different performances. Able to expand outwards the stage seeks to enlarge its audience and bring in the city to the performance.