|Project Reference||Broomielaw Pavillions|
|Details||4no Pavilions with associated Public Realm|
|Use Type||Public Space / Public Realm / Leisure|
|Client/Developer||Capella Developments Ltd|
|Lead Designers||GD Lodge Architects|
|Planning Authority||Glasgow City Council|
|Planning Ref||Planning Application Ref: 11/01234/DC|
This report relates to proposals for 4 pavilions at Broomielaw Quay in Glasgow, presented at an A+DS Design Review meeting held on the 26th July 2011 in The Lighthouse, Glasgow. The planning application for the site was lodged on the 27th May 2011, and the proposals were referred to A+DS by the Local Authority due to the sites significance and its visibility from a number of key approaches to the city.
1.1 We recognise the work done by the Project Team thus far and thank them for a comprehensive presentation of their scheme at the meeting. The proposals follow a successful competition entry by Richard Rogers Partnership’s for a new bridge with two linear parklands on either side of the River Clyde, which has been accepted, and is being promoted by Glasgow City Council as the vision for the Broomielaw. The current proposals form a package of works along the river frontage, already implemented in part by way of the formation of the bridge and quay walls.
Whilst we support the principle of creating opportunities and activity on the riverside, we do not support the proposals in their current form particularly in terms of their scale, impact on the amenity of the river frontage, and the design quality illustrated via form and materiality. We offer the following advice to the Project Team and Planning Authority for consideration as part of the current application for Planning Permission.
2 Urban Design
2.1 Site Diagram
From our observations on site we believe that the buildings as proposed would sit uncomfortably on the land available and are of a scale which is not appropriate at this location in the city. The proposed arrangement would reduce the amenity along the river frontage, breaking what is a well-used, linear public space into a series of partially shaded spaces which appear squeezed between the fast link, the walkway, and the pavilions themselves. The site diagram should be less rigid and respond more closely to what currently happens on the ground along the quay in terms of the existing activity in this space, referring to desire lines and the nodal point of the Tradeston Bridge, York Street, and the ferry pontoon. We suggest that the Project Team should explore the site diagram further by studying the site and its context in more detail and consider buildings that compliment the public realm work already done to transform the existing quay.
3 Buildings Design
We query the quantum of the proposals, and suggest that the designs appear to have been driven by the imperative of maximising any commercial space, as opposed to a being a realistic response to the site opportunities. Whilst we acknowledge that the critical mass of any proposed development it is essential to its realisation, we are concerned that the project as currently conceived would have a detrimental effect on the carefully wrought environment of the river walkway. References by the Project Team to places like Nyhavn in Copenhagen are welcomed and we consider this model to be more appropriate in terms of typology, scale and opportunity than the current proposals.
The forms of the proposed buildings are visually heavy, rising effectively to 3 conventional storeys in height, and are designed as two inward facing pairs, despite the differing relationships of the site ends, bridge termination, and center conditions. Designed as virtually identical shell buildings that the Tenants will then fit-out themselves, the scheme seems too formal and standardised. We recommend that the proposed buildings should be reconsidered as bespoke forms that take advantage of the unique qualities of the riverside, each site-specific to its condition and function, and all designed to provide aspect out to, and specifically up and down, the river, itself.
The buildings are described as pavilions, however we suggest that what is proposed is not currently consistent with this description, either in function or appearance. As opposed to being light and airy, the solid wrapped forms, with advertising panels to the street frontage and deep recesses to the river frontage, appear heavy and ungainly, and the potential for oblique views to and from the proposed buildings are not exploited. In addition, as the proposed buildings will be viewed from above, their roof elevations are an important consideration in terms of overall form and appearance. The scale of the units are such that the plant equipment, which is proposed to be cut into the overall roof form, is likely to be substantial however the current proposals do not appear to allow for this being encapsulated or otherwise visually mitigated.
Whilst metal cladding has been used extensively for the buildings fronting the Broomielaw, the use of similar materials in the pavilions seems out of scale with the stated intent. Likewise, the cladding form and proposed materials appear to lack conviction, giving the impression of less substance and quality than, for example, that demonstrated through the existing public realm design. We also note that reflectivity of materials should be considered relative to potential problems of glare both to the surrounding building users, and relative to the Fast Link, road and pedestrian traffic.
We recommend the Project Team explore the opportunity to create simpler, lighter-weight, elegant pavilions which optimise views up and down the river, as opposed to being “frames” which direct the view to the opposite bank only.
The design of the proposed buildings appear only to address good weather conditions with little recognition for the prevailing climate at this location, and we suggest that this is likely to compromise the destination desirability and hence use within all but a few months of the year. In terms of detail design, the concept of providing deep overhangs in order to avoid solar gain seems counter to the objective of providing views in, of activity, and out, of the river. Any alternative of screening the glass with blinds or other solar control measures should be considered with the opportunity for views both in and out. Regards energy efficiency, we advise the Project Team to study the impact of the environment on the experience of the buildings internal and external spaces and to consider how their energy requirements might be reduced by proactive solutions rather than ad-hoc technologies.
4 Landscape Design
4.1 Public Realm
Again, from our observations on site it is evident that the ‘urban park’ recently created as part of the public realm improvements along the Broomielaw is well used and a valuable asset to the city. We believe that the loss of such a space, including the quality tree planting and hard landscaping, would be at a detriment to the city and has not been justified by the current proposals. Amenity along the north of the site bound by the Broomielaw is also likely to be poor, with the proposed buildings described relying on graphics to screen what is essentially back of house services to be located there. We therefore encourage the Planning Authority to protect this opportunity for the public and its existing sense of place, and advise the Project Team to consider how pavilions might exist in a manner which augments, rather than challenges, the existing public realm.
In their current form we feel the proposals do not fully exploit the unique attributes of the site and we encourage the Project Team to challenge the project brief particularly in terms of the space requirements. The recently created ‘urban park’ is an important asset to the International Financial Services District and the city, and provides an important nodal point for the river front walkway and hence connectivity particularly to the south and also to the east and the west. Nevertheless, we are supportive of the intent to provide activity on the waterfront, and we consider that the quay has the potential for simple, elegantly designed built forms that interact with the existing public realm and enhance the users experience of the place.