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Stirling Prize: ‘City of Glasgow College is designed as a learning tool’

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Lyle Chrystie of Reiach and Hall and Brendan Diamond of Michael Laird Architects explain the design decisions behind City of Glasgow College

PLAN • DETAIL • AXONOMETRIC • MATERIALS AND PRODUCTS • PROJECT DATA

The buildings at the Riverside Campus are the result of a combination of ideas about the city, the student experience and education and learning opportunities. 

The site occupies a key gateway in the city, at the south-west corner of the Albert Bridge, marking a major crossing over the river Clyde from the south side. The new building is placed at the pavement and riverside walkway edge, deliberately engaging the river’s crossing point with considerable scale – it has become a gatekeeper marking the civic threshold and creating a new memorable civic landmark.

The buildings are organised around two new civic spaces – a cloistered garden and a grand hall. These are convivial social spaces to encourage students to mix and realise opportunities for blended learning across disciplines. These internal and external rooms have dramatic views across the city and are visually engaged with the sister campus under construction on Cathedral Street at the top of the city’s skyline.

Almost all of the educational rooms look into and across these spaces to the city with a high proportion of glass screens. The teaching and learning activities within the classrooms are visible and this creates a single community atmosphere that pervades the entire suite of buildings. Students are encouraged, through the open design, to investigate learning opportunities outside of their own discipline, with the possibilities for cross-discipline interaction encouraged by the building.

The building itself is designed as a learning tool, with the exposure and expression of all structure and services. Students in the engineering disciplines can simply see best practice examples of the structural connections and mechanical, electrical and IT systems they are learning to design and make. 

The north-western edge of the cloistered garden is defined by the halls of residence tower. This is a 190-bedroom facility organised in five-bedroom flats. The tower typology was adopted to help students new to the city locate themselves and arrive at a simple reference point for wayfinding. 

A series of engineering workshops are located in a two-storey building to the south of the courtyard. The workshops have been arranged in an open plan manner to allow visibility of all activities and to encourage blended learning.

To enable an enhanced pace of delivery on site, the buildings were substantially prefabricated, adopting off-site or prefabricated constructions for the steel frame, precast floors, facades, services installations and WC pods. This required a very high degree of co-ordination with all of the designing subcontractors. To ensure swift communications, the architect team (18-strong at its peak) co-located on site with the contractors, allowing critical detailed decisions to be made at pace and with accuracy. This achieved a site delivery time of only 18 months.

Ground floor plan

Drawings reiach ground

Drawings reiach ground

Third floor plan

Drawings reiach third

Drawings reiach third

Atrium bay study

Drawings reiach atrium bay

Drawings reiach atrium bay

Axonometric

Drawings reiach axo

Drawings reiach axo

 Atrium section

Drawings reiach sectioned atrium

Drawings reiach sectioned atrium

 The materials we used

Reiach materialsboard

Reiach materialsboard

  1. Intumescent paint to engineering hall, orange RAL 2000 
  2. Intumescent paint to education building, grey/brown RAL 8019
  3. Ceramic tiles, I Colori Talco 10x30 Lucidi by ORA Ceramics
  4. European oak slats with acoustic fabric backing by Camira Fabrics. Cara Range, colour: Merrick
  5. Resin floor, Flowfast Terrosso in signal grey 712 by Flowcrete
  6. Resin floor, Flowfast Terrosso, light grey 711, by Flowcrete
  7. Fabric: Camira Blazer, Goldsmith CUZ39
  8. Fabric: Camira Blazer, Silcoates CUZ30
  9. Double-glazed units to education building. Sunguard SNX 60/28 by Gaurdian Industries
  10. Bespoke anodised aluminium fins by Structal UK, finish Unicol Anolok, 541, pale umber
  11. Bespoke anodised aluminium cladding by Structal UK, finish Unicol Anolok, 541, pale umber
  12. Acid-washed precast concrete cladding and columns, colour: white, byTechrete 
  13. Brick paving by Vandel Morta

 

Project data

Start on site June 2013
Completion August 2015
Gross internal floor area 21,403m² (teaching facilities 15,646m²; halls of residence 5,757m²)
Form of contract Bespoke NPD; Design and Build for halls of residence
Construction cost £66 million
Construction cost per m² £3,080
Architect Reiach and Hall with Michael Laird Architects
Client City of Glasgow College
Structural engineer Arup
M&E consultant FES with Hulley & Kirkwood
Quantity surveyor SRM/Sweett Group
Landscape architect Rankinfraser Landscape Architecture
Interior design Graven
Main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine 
CAD software used Revit, AutoCAD, MicroStation

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