‘Daytime. Heaviness of stone, the texture of brick. Feet clanging on a steel walkway. Light filtering through a lattice of walls, the glimpse of crumbled brick and rusted steel outside, framed by white walls. Daylight fades, light glows through mesh. Activity revealed through a solid façade.’
This building is born out of the everyday truths of architecture: it is a simple response to a brief for a 5000sqm fashion college in the centre of Glasgow, with a focus on rich material presence and a logical spatial approach.
The site on the bank of the river Clyde is on the periphery of the city’s rigidly structured urban grid, occupying a place of transition between the loose and the rigorous. Four urban conditions found in Glasgow city centre are overlaid on the site to create a paradigm of the city: courtyard block, scattered building spread, hard surface and green space. At street level, the resultant building becomes an extension of the city; a rich ground scape is scattered with pavilion buildings for public use. Above, the working program is arranged within a lattice of long spaces held by 5m deep structural beams, forming a dense courtyard block punctuated by a green pocket. From the exterior the building appears as a monolithic mass held above the ground.
Fashion is seen as an industry, as the art of fabrication. The studios are designed as large container boxes flooded with light from above, diffused by a saw tooth roof that reflects the industrial past of Glasgow. Adaptable devices such as temporary walls and pop-up spaces move on runners, allowing the students to change and adopt the space as their own. The architecture forces the students to cross between studios to circulate, which facilitates cross-fertilization between year groups and enables a rich, non-hierarchical learning experience.
The spatial conditions of ‘frame’ (long spaces) and ‘pocket’ (pavilions, pop-ups) create the form which mirrors the arts school’s programmatic requirements. The building is a delicate recast of the existing urban condition of ‘G1 4HJ’, aiming to create not a sense of otherworldliness, but of familiarity and permanence.