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Learning from Glas Vegas: Collective Architects, Graeme Massie Architects

Jude Barber, Cathy Houston, Graeme Massie, Stuart Dickson

We have proposed a new recreational landscape in the centre of Glasgow - an urban wilderness.

The Barrowland Ballroom and City Halls occupy two distinct neighbourhoods separated by a railway line and a ‘no‑man’s land’ of underused car parks, empty building sites and derelict infrastructure. The neighbourhoods contrast in terms of demographics, wealth and opportunity, and the railway line forms an identifiable threshold between the two.

We also recognised that the area was strongly influenced by a number of transient populations: gig-goers, shoppers to the Barras, students, the homeless.
We want to make this empty territory a public landscape shared by its neighbouring communities. It is not a manicured landscape; its qualities would arise out of the existing ‘pioneer’ vegetation and ground surfaces. It would invite, rather than prescribe, use.

The most important aspects of the proposal are to conceptualise it as a single territory rather than many and to remove the physical barriers that signify the different public and private ownerships to allow it to become a single space. Turning our attention to these peripheral spaces, we saw an opportunity to create a link between the Necropolis in the north and Glasgow Green by the Clyde.

The lighting proposal gives the space a presence in the night landscape. By creating a horizontal datum for all of the light fittings, the undulating topography becomes apparent and creates different degrees of intimacy and atmospheres across the site. Two small mounds formed of site rubble ascend above the ‘lightscape’, allowing the night sky to be viewed from the heart of the city. Recognising the value of darkness for the city, we have sought to make an intervention of ‘epic simplicity’.

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