At Risk : The Vertical Project

Second year started with the tragic news of the second fire in the Mackintosh building. The fire caused the destabilisation of the buildings fabric, that lead to the surrounding area (including our beloved studio and library) being closed off. This led to an abnormal start to the term with the first two weeks taking place in large tents at the SWG3 and starting the term with the Vertical project.

“The substantial destruction of the Glasgow School of Art by fire and its cataclysmic impact on the school, residents and businesses reminds everybody of the vulnerability and fragile existence of numerous other buildings in the city particularly those which are currently vacant but considered to be of value for their historical significance or architectural merit. These buildings are recorded in the Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland (Glasgow).”

“This two-week event held by the whole Mackintosh School of Architecture staff and students is a unique opportunity to celebrate the resilience of the city, its confidence and optimism by proposing the rebirth of a selected number of such buildings acting as catalysts for the regeneration of their surroundings. In this situation creative risks are to be taken with an architectural agenda, to speculate and provoke a critical debate relating to Glasgow’s built environment.

Building on a long tradition at MSA a vertical project allows students and staff the opportunity to work together in “vertical” groups that bring together a team from a cross section of our community. Each team is comprised of students from every year in the school, from Stage 1 to Masters, engaging the diversity of voices, ideas, experiences and backgrounds of the student and staff body that enriches our school.

This year the vertical project served two purposes: firstly, it allowed us to celebrate as a school the beginning of our Fiftieth year as the Mackintosh School of Architecture: and secondly it provided us with the opportunity to use our collective skills to imagine GSA, MSA and indeed Glasgow.

Eighteen buildings at risk, eighteen city locales – discovered, uncovered and reimagined by 450 students.” –

Our team explored the Caledonia Road Church and how we could unite the surrounding residential areas through the church. Check out our groups progress here.

Reflective Statement

We proposed a scaffold structure with a helter skelter as the main element. This made full use of the buildings form, allowing residents to climb and experience both an intimate relationship with the building and dynamic panoramic views of their city as they descend.

The locale consisted of two communities – the Gorbals and Laurieston – segregated by two large main roads that surround the site, isolating it from pedestrian access. The abundance of strongly de-fined thresholds and lack of crossings results in an anti-pedestrian neighbourhood that still bares the car-centric narrative from the 70s re-development. The area is predominantly residential and lacks recreational spaces forcing residence to commute into the city centre for work and leisure. Statements from locals showed that the community still appreciates the building through personal memory and its architectural significance. Now merely a shell, it has begun to be reclaimed by the community with sporadic pop up events.

Statements from locals showed that the community still appreciates the building through personal memory and its architectural significance. Now merely a shell, it has begun to be reclaimed by the community with sporadic pop up events.

To allow residents of all ages to re-explore and re-connect with the space, we believe the new agenda should be fun. The temporary structure allows the building to remain untouched but also explored in a way that has never occurred before. The iconic slide would solidify it as a unifying beacon and hopefully act as a catalyst for the further recreational development of the area.

This project has shown me that significant architectural buildings hold their place in communities and even though their primary use may be unneeded now, they can still be adapted to suit the changing needs of the environment.

Collaborating gave me a new perspective on tackling a brief and work processes. I was involved in the research and filming process with the group, but I took the initiative to develop the concept imagery using hand drawing, collage and photoshop, culminating in the production of the A3 sheets. I’ve learnt how to; further develop my ideas, take creative risks, communication, InDesign and furthered my knowledge of the architectural history of Glasgow.

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