Greg White describes how LOCI Design, working with pop artist Jim Lambie, enlivened a derelict site in Glasgow with a pathway modelled on the spines of album covers. Photography by Stephen Hosey
Barrowland Park is a new temporary public open space and major public artwork for Glasgow city centre, designed by my practice, LOCI Design, in collaboration with artist Jim Lambie.
While based in Glasgow, I collaborated with several visual artists – including Christine Borland, Toby Paterson, Graham Fagen and Simon Starling – to create landscape-based works, and I was a keen follower of the city’s vibrant visual art movement. Following my relocation to Pembrokeshire in south Wales, I was approached by Toby Webster, director of The Modern Institute in Glasgow, to see if I would be interested in working in the city again, with Jim Lambie, to come up with proposals for a derelict city-centre site as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.
The site was one of Glasgow City Council’s ‘stalled spaces’ – derelict spaces throughout the city awaiting development and offering a temporary space for public use. Enclosed by hoarding since a major fire destroyed buildings in 2011, the site presented numerous challenges: it had level changes of over 2m, unstable retaining walls, was filled with rubble and overgrown with vegetation, and contained a derelict public house.
Lambie, a Turner Prize contender in 2005, draws upon rock and pop music to make his art. His concept was to create a pathway that would physically link the Barrowland Ballroom (a famous music venue) with the city centre, and document every band that had performed there since 1983. The design would resemble the spines of record sleeves stacked on a shelf.
The site’s existing sunken formation is emphasised through the introduction of terraced timber steps, which double as informal south-facing seating. It was important to provide a green space that had potential to host public events throughout the year. A plaza forms the park’s central space, which is dissected through its entire length by the Album Pathway – a 100m length of vivid-coloured concrete strips.
Having agreed on coloured concrete as the most durable material for the path, we worked with Russ Coleman of The Concrete Foundation to decide on construction techniques. The path was made from a variety of poured coloured concrete strips, and contains thousands of individually cut letters set within concrete panels that, when polished back, reveal the finished vivid coloured surface.
Neutral-coloured, self-binding gravel and timber were chosen to complement the coloured pathway. These materials also fitted with the project’s temporary nature as they can be reused once the park is removed. The Album Pathway itself has been laid in such a way that the individual slabs can be relocated to another site if required.
Where possible, existing trees were retained throughout the site, and a grid pattern of delicate white-stemmed silver birches was added to contrast with the boldness of the pathway. Around the park’s periphery, there is additional boulevard-style tree planting for two major roads in and out of the city centre.
- Greg White, landscape architect, LOCI Design