Sculpting Daylight From An Architectural Gem
This urban building design project explores adaptive reuse of architectural heritage buildings. In general, proposals for buildings designated as architectural heritage tend to be very conservative in design, meaning that the architect’s primary approach is to reinstate them to the original state typified by the approach of ‘architectural conservation’. However, this research suggests the value of architectural heritage should not be confined to this strict recreation of the past. All buildings outlive their original use and the context for their original creation. When designated of heritage value the physical artifact is deemed an exemplary link with the past regardless of functional redundancy. Contemporary uses introduce a tension between the original artifact and new identity. This research suggests it is necessary to challenge conservative approaches to architectural heritage, and adaptive reuse is defined as the aesthetic process of adapting buildings to new purposes while retaining their historic character, and allows enhancement of their value by taking on the challenge of new, contemporary functions.
The Greek Thomson’s Egyptian Hall in Glasgow, which was A-listed in 1966, has lain empty for more than forty years and is an important opportunity to explore adaptive reuse. The proposal will retain the original façade and thus re-associate this famous public frontage with a new contemporary art gallery inside (continuing the theme of reworking Thomson buildings at the CCA). The interior spaces once used for commercial purposes will cater for daily artistic and cultural activities; there will be a mix of public gallery and private studios. The re-working of the interior, taking its cue from the existing lightwells, explores how daylight can be captured for the production and display of art. The experience and sequence of gallery visitors, for example using an enfilade layout of generous rooms around a significant new void, introduces a new internal identity to Egyptian Hall. The different needs of the new function allows the opportunity to explore visual and physical links between public gallery and more private areas of art production and administration. Adaptability for different exhibition layouts and functions will be a focus.