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Art in the frame in Glasgow's Easterhouse

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Gareth Hoskins Architects has unveiled its designs for a new £3.45 million arts centre in the deprived Easterhouse area of Glasgow. The practice beat Page & Park, Richard Murphy Architects, RMJM and The Parr Partnership in the competition to win the 3,000m 2project which aims to provide the area with a crucial focal point.

'A 1960s low-rise shopping mall on Bogbain Road is as much of a town centre as Easterhouse has, ' said project architect Joyce Michie. 'There is no square or public meeting space. What Glasgow City Council and its partners want is to provide a relaxed and friendly environment in which people who would normally not go near a library or a college can be introduced to the arts and learning.'

The arts centre combines a variety of performance, visual arts and auditorium spaces, together with a public library and teaching facilities, hemmed in by an existing swimming pool and the John Wheatley College.The college is part of a client body which also includes Glasgow City Council, the Greater Easterhouse Partnership and the arts groups Visual Statement and Easterhouse Arts Project.

Michie described the site as 'awkward' and 'very complicated', and said that it was deprived of 'an obvious front door' by the placement of the existing buildings. In response, the architects have located the most vivid elements of the scheme in prominent positions on each of the site's main access routes. The orange performance room facing Bogbain Road has an open front, resembling a TV screen, which will offer passersby 'glimpses of activity', 'inviting' them to join in.

To provide the necessary public space the architects have included two foyer areas. The lower foyer will contain open galleries and will link the college to the main complex. The upper foyer will house a cafeteria and establish a link between the new library and the rest of the building. All the performance areas will be situated around the foyers, which will act as sound buffer zones between the different auditoria.

Iain Graham, principal of the John Wheatley College where part of the centre will be built, expressed his enthusiasm for the scheme: 'The idea of an arts centre has been a sparkle in the community's eye for at least seven years now. We see the arts as being at the heart of Easterhouse's economic regeneration, and the college is happy to open up its land for this purpose.' Work is expected to begin in early 2002.

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