Narrative

/ Nicola Walls / Arts & Culture

Behind each and every project there is a story which guides and informs us during the design process. Ultimately the finished building becomes the embodiment of that story. Ideas, words and strategies become transformed into physical reality, the intangible becomes physical.

In that transformation the story, whilst not being lost, re-emerges in a different form. For the architect it is the search for this effective reconciliation of narrative and the final built form, representing that hidden magic of the process.

That narrative is made up of a number of parts.

The first is the setting in the city or landscape, how does the building sit in its context - the movement of people, the experience of the environment as light, wind and sound, the functionality of the surrounding city. Our aim is to understand that context as a place and how the new can add to that that experience.

The second is the history of that setting. Whilst our preoccupation is with now, what we have now is as a result of a whole series of stories overlaid on each other - the people who conceived used and managed the building through time and how they altered it in response.

The third is the story of the future, our future projection of how the building or setting might work – be edited and retold for tomorrow's users. That is how they will move through the building or setting, how the spaces will be managed as well as the quality of environmental experience.

The easiest tale would be to allow one exploration to dominate, either the setting, history or simply the focus on the future. Our response is a weave between them all, an editing of what is important from each aspect. Our Scottish Opera project encapsulates this process and indeed the narrative has been an important part of the fund raising.

In brief it is about the reorientation of the city centre setting to look out to the north and Cowcaddens Road as the new approach into the building. The historical rooting of that entrance as a Glasgow bay window enlarged but still an echo of the adjacent tenement on the opposite corner of the street. This theme is extended to the interior enfilade of mini bays circumnavigating the cantilevered volume and its reinterpretation in the interior as a giant climbable chandelier easing the flow from street to seat in the auditorium.

The effectiveness of our weave between the different components of the narrative remains to be proved, but initial reactions to the emerging structural frame give us confidence.

Theatre Royal in progress on site