Glasgow Tenement StudyGàidhlig
Urban research and discourse in recent decades has attempted to promote a so called “return to the city”. This has aimed to re-appropriate the urban core as a place of dwelling, following an exodus to the suburbs or modernist high-rise developments. An ambition to reclaim the urban block as the dominant urban model is evident, and the city is therefore equated. It is striking however that although some sizeable new districts comprised of block plans have been constructed in Glasgow, a coherent piece of city has not. It is at this point that our design approach is positioned: our work is concerned with continuity in the physical character of the city’s buildings. How might a coherent urban architecture for Glasgow be rediscovered?
Late Victorian Glasgow tenements defined an incredibly singular expression, transforming swathes of agrarian land to enduring city, in a period of around forty years. Implementation of a single type across such vast areas suggests an ability to adjust in response to specific spatial and economic demands, while retaining an archetypical structure. The consistency in architectural grammar evident in the Victorian tenement relies on common elements, such as the characteristic projecting bay window. Through repetition, rhythmic modelling establishes an urbane language capable of successfully articulating continuous streetscapes. Adaptation of this grammar permits variety and differentiation between developments, streets and districts.
This project seeks to reappropriate the enduring characteristics of the Glasgow tenement, while acknowledging the ever changing requirements and expectations of contemporary urban dwelling. Our work seeks to identify a language capable of making coherent new pieces of city, and one which remains embedded within existing traditions. We argue that commonality among urban buildings is an essential element in most successful urban places. Commonality, the state of sharing features and attributes, is a defining characteristic of the existing city, and is a quality which is lacking in many recent urban developments. We propose that the traditional set of repetitive common elements can be redefined, and that by adapting and developing these parameters, it is possible to form the basis of a coherent language, in continuity with the existing city and reflective of contemporary society.