The New Gorbals Housing Association
200 Crown Street, Gorbals, Glasgow G5 9AY
Internal Floor Area
A walled garden re-imagined as a modern workplace and civic face to the Gorbals community.
The NGHA Office is the new home and workplace of the New Gorbals Housing Association. Our task was to design a building that could be adapted to provide a variety of workplace functions to future proof expansion, better connect the association with the wider Gorbals community and facilitate an environment to improve the social well-being and comfort of visitors and staff.
Formed though a rigorous briefing and design process, the building is part of the wider redevelopment of one of the last remaining sites within the Gorbals. The primary concept was to think of the building as a permeable garden wall, to create an intimate workspace with multiple views out to the surrounding urban landscape. The southern courtyard provides a focal point with a variety of soft landscaping features while the building maintains a civic presence on the northern elevation adjacent to the New Gorbals piazza with a series of brick piers. A large illuminated sign fixed to the building announces ‘Gorbals’ as a landmark within the greater urban context.
The external architecture is expressed as a skin of brick piers set out at various widths that segregate large floor to ceiling glazed openings. Ground floor glazing is recessed within the depth of the piers to provide privacy to the internal work spaces. This glazing provides a consistent northern light suited for a bright office working environment. Feature zinc-clad elements are interlaced with the red brick walls to provide contrast along the principal elevations.
The southern courtyard walls contrast the public facing brick skin with wall-to-wall curtain walling to visually connect the ground floor spaces to the external landscaped courtyard. The courtyard walls are clad with external grade vertical Scotch larch to soften the external spaces and create a more intimate space. The building steps in height along the east elevation to connect with the adjacent housing development. To the north, the building maintains a human scale to the piazza elevation to avoid overshadowing the public piazza.
Design and Concept
The office environment is centred around a large timber clad atrium at its heart. The interior layout flows as one continuous room with various niches offering varying degrees of privacy, from larger communal working areas to private working booths. Each space benefits from multiple aspect views through internal and external glazed partitions and windows, ensuring each space is reconnected to the wider external landscape.
It was important to the overall concept to avoid an office layout with individual rooms and spaces connected off a single corridor or creating a fully open plan space with no intimacy or variation. The design strikes a balance between both styles to encourage social interactions and maintain a sense of community which better fit the working culture of the NGHA.
Site progress showing the development from Spring 2018 until completion in Autumn 2019.
Timber panelling and facing brick are interchanged to create a robust office environment with natural textures and tones. A timber clad balustrade containing services and storage sweeps through the spaces to create a soft and calming internal setting.
As the new public face of the organisation, the reception space is brightly lit and visually connected to the adjacent street with large glazed curtain walling panels to welcome tenants and members of the public. The bespoke reception furniture features a series of vertical lampposts designed to evoke a tree-like aesthetic, echoing the choice of natural materials and colours which continue internally.
Four interview rooms are situated between the reception and the rest of the working environment and are glazed both sides to provide a visual connection through the building. This design feature is consistent with all internal glazing which visually connects the various working groups while maintaining acoustic separation.
Situated on the entrance corner of Crown Street, the Committee Room includes a feature acoustic ceiling design which conceals services and ventilation ducts. A bi-fold movable wall enables the space to be split or enlarged when required.
Materials and Finishes
Material finishes were chosen for robustness and are present both internally and externally to create a unified building aesthetic. Ibstock Heritage Red stock brick forms the predominant material, broken up internally by Siberian larch wall linings and Ash veneered MDF panels.
Internal finishes such as orange MDF panels were chosen to complement the warm tones of the brick, while in contrast dark grey MDF and grey paint applied finishes are used to break up the spaces in a similar way to the grey zinc cladding used externally.