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McGinlay Bell reveals vision for arts hub at former Dundee printworks

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Scottish practice McGinlay Bell has revealed its proposal for the transformation of a former printworks in Dundee into a 19,000m² arts hub

The emerging Glasgow-based firm has produced a masterplan for the £18 million development of West Ward Works, previously the DC Thomson print works on Guthrie Street, which in its heyday published five million books a year.

McGinlay Bell, which won an invited competition for the project last July, will transform the empty factory structures into a new indoor public square, a café/bar and restaurant, with open spaces for temporary exhibitions.

The printworks – which once produced comic annuals for The Beano, Oor Wullie and Beezer, has been lying empty since 2010 when it was closed by DC Thomson after more than 60 years of production.

It was revived in 2016 for the inaugural four-day Dundee Design Festival. Last year’s event attracted more than 7,000 visitors to workshops, exhibitions and talks.

Brian McGinlay, Director at McGinlay Bell, said the ambition at West Works was to animate the buildings with a mix of creative industry activities at a scale rare across the UK.

‘Our vision addresses the large-scale factory structures, the volumes and vast opens spaces of the dormant former industrial complex and sets out to sustain the scale, monumentality and spatial qualities of the site’, he said.

McGinlay added that the printworks regeneration was a scalable project with a 10-year plan and will offer the chance for creative practitioners and businesses to base themselves in Dundee.

He added: ‘By process of consolidation, repair and re-use of West Ward Works buildings the wider ambition is that it becomes a new focal point of the Blackness Area, offering an enriched sense of destination within the city.’

The project is backed by the West Ward Works Trust, which has been set up to develop the building and explore possible uses for the space.

David Cook, former chief executive of Wasps Artists’ Studios, which spearheaded the transformation of the Briggait fish market in Glasgow into an arts centre, is the trust’s project director.

He said the project was inspired by other examples of industrial buildings re-purposed for cultural use around the world, such as the Matadero in Madrid or Denmark’s Godsbanen in Aarhus or the SWG3 studio warehouses in Glasgow.

Cook added: ‘West Ward has great potential to provide creative studios, co-working spaces and workshops for gaming companies, designers and artists. It will also have a maker campus, allowing professional designers and amateur enthusiasts alike to make anything from jewellery to furniture and even small buildings.’

McGinlay Bell was set up in 2015 by Brian McGinlay and Mark Bell, who worked together at NORD for nine years. Other schemes include a canalside housing development in Glasgow completed earlier this year and a refurbishment of the Glasgow Film Theatre.

1 mb dapple 7 west ward works 1805 me

1 mb dapple 7 west ward works 1805 me

Project data

Location Dundee, Scotland
Type of project Arts and culture
Client West Ward Works Limited
Architect McGinlay Bell
Quantity Surveyor Christie and Co
Gross internal floor area 19,000m²

1 mb west ward works concept sketch 1

1 mb west ward works concept sketch 1

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