Reconstructing the Domestic City
September 13, 2012 \ Places to Live
by David Page
For almost twenty years Page\Park have been pleased to play a role in the transformation of New Gorbals for New Gorbals Housing Association. In a series of projects, Chris Simmonds has directed a strategy of renewal based on incremental rather than grand gestures. The overall plan within which Page\Park has developed these housing groupings has developed from three central points, Crown Street (Piers Gough masterplan), St. Francis Church (Hypostyle masterplan) and Hayfield Street Gardens (Page\Park masterplan) each expanding out to in-mesh the neighbouring developing areas. This plan of multiple concentric development zones has resulted in a varied and rich transverse pedestrian experience and created the context for distinctive and interesting architectural contributions.
Hayfield Street Gardens
Hayfield Street Gardens developed as a gentle urban garden centre in the East End of New Gorbals. The new urban cornerstone block was to reinforce the northern edge and corner of the new public space. It, therefore, seeks to resolve through treatment of the balcony decks and inset form together with the proximity of the building to the garden wall edge street, the requirements for privacy and security of the residents and at the same time the enclosure of the public space. In that respect, the urban wall is seen as a deep perforated extension of the garden itself. It is that depth behind which the residents can find security but into which they can step to become part of the outside world.
Crown Street – Piers Gough Masterplan
The Piers Gough masterplan envisaged strongly edged street definition. This Crown Street block followed the small setback rules of the masterplan but in a solid rather than open garden form. It explored the Glasgow tradition of the granite protective base above which the large windowed living rooms could both have a sense of urban grandeur and sense of security. The challenge of urban living in proximity to busy streets remains the biggest task of contemporary architects in reconstructing dense rather than suburban patterns of living. The 100-year traditions of urban form making that develop the city from 1825 to 1925 enabled the passing on from generation to generation of sound city building principles. Our re-acquaintance in the 1970s and 80s til now, with the idea of protecting rather than re-shaping the city, is a short time in which to test different ways of reconciling the complex ways of living in the city.
St. Francis (Friary Court) – Hypostyle Masterplan
The Hypostyle masterplan explored a less rigid variation of the Crown Street plan. It enabled the various architects to both react to the immediate context and to the architectural responses to each other, no more so than the Piers Gough, Page\Park collaboration. The simple move by Page\Park to open up and focus on vistas to the historic Pugin & Pugin church created clusters of three flats per floor units arranged in an open fan around the church. This approach of both closed street form and yet at the same time opening up to the backcourt sought to reconcile the criticism of the Crown Street plan that the inner private backcourts did not contribute to the street public aspect.
Waddell Street/Ballater Street
This project bordered the Page\Park Hayfield Street Gardens masterplan and Hypostyle’s plan around St. Francis together with the relationship across Ballater Street to the 1960s Robert Matthew complex. In a sense the architectural form has been moulded by each of its 3 masterplans, firstly in responding to the Glasgow urban grid, secondly in the exploration of the idea of the garden on the street front and thirdly by the transformation of the geometry, corresponding to the grid angling and opening out to align with the north/south orientation of the 1960s urban plan.
Hutchesontown Phase 1
This urban plan and building effects the transition between the Page\Park Hayfield Street Gardens plan, the north/south orientation of the remaining 1960s Hutchesontown towers and the east/west orientation of the remaining fragment of the original Glasgow grid along Cumberland Street. Here, the pre-occupation of the four previous plans, in resolving the relationship between the public street, built form and the inside/out living space defines a middle ground response of alternating solid building to street relationship juxtaposed with void garden inset courtyards.