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Studio Day Out — Glasgow for the day


Our most recent study-trip. Glasgow for the day.

The first stop was Hill House in Helensburgh. Those of us who studied in Scotland are familiar with MacDonald, Mackintosh, and their work at Hill House, but for many it was an introduction to The Hill House Box by Carmody Groarke. With a tour of the house we headed up into the walkways above. The unusual perspective this structure provides, suspended above roofs, is a rare treat. Standing close with the shoulders of the building, (a perspective normally only afforded during that short period a scaffold is up) suddenly reduces the home to something you might hold in two hands.

The investigative work and research undertaken by National Trust Scotland as the home dries out provided an insight into the challenges we may face in retaining our existing contemporary/modern structures. A challenge that will require deep consideration and knowledge of fabrics that is increasingly becoming harder to define. After lunch at House for an Art Lover, and a short wander around the 1990s interpretation of Mackintosh, we headed over to the Burrell Collection to see the recent restoration by John McAslan and Partners.

Perhaps this building is best at dusk, as the glass slips away and you are in the company of trees and their trunks as you look at Rodin and ancient monuments. A lot of it is familiar – putting to one side the debates that surround this work – to walk around the collection still feels as it did. Perhaps only to eyes looking for detail, the once tired junctions and fittings are fresh, sharp and clean.

The final port of call on the journey home was St Andrews in the Square to introduce those new to the studio a classic, sat alongside previous GRAS Glasgow headquarters at James Morrison Street. For a studio working within the conservation, restoration and the management of decay, the visit raises an interesting question – when we conserve or restore what is it we are aiming to achieve? This is a slightly redundant question and too large to challenge here. But perhaps the the extension to this question is how might that work be suitably sustained? The unglamorous realities of maintenance and monitoring.

Written by Charlie Porter

More about St Andrews in The Square

St Andrew’s Church in the East end of Glasgow is of immense architectural significance, having been designed in 1739 by the architect Allan Dreghorn and built by the master mason Mungo Naismith. It is considered one of the best classical revival churches in Britain and is A-listed. Glasgow Building Preservation Trust’s main aim was to restore the church to its former glory but in order to make it sustainable, additional facilities were needed. As the church sits on an island site at the centre of St. Andrews Square, no additional structure could be added. Thus the bold decision was taken to excavate under the existing building to achieve the space required.

The Church was opened to the public on St Andrew’s Day, 30th of November 2000, as a centre for traditional Scottish music, song and dance. St Andrew’s Church was awarded the Dynamic Place Award in 2001, Europa Nostra Diploma in 2001, Glasgow Institute of Architects President’s Choice Design Award in 2001, Civic Trust Award in 2002. and RICS award in 2003.