We have many strategies for working with existing buildings, one of which is conservative surgery. Coined from Patrick Geddes’ actions in Edinburgh, this strategy seeks to cut away at the accretions that have accumulated over time, opening up the internals of the architecture to free the circulation and emphasise the qualities of the existing.
This approach we have applied in our transformation of Clydebank Civic Heart. The Town Hall complex comprised several listed buildings by James Millar dating from 1902, and served the public function as a place of assembly in addition to housing the Museum, the Council Chamber and private accommodation for the Provost. The original buildings housed expansive main spaces connected however with narrow, disorientating and unwelcoming corridors.
The public entrance was refocused onto Hall Street and with internal ‘stripping away’ at ground floor level, new generous foyer spaces and legible circulation have been created. These top lit routes provide space for the Museum to expand while a new build gallery extension overlooks a newly landscaped garden on the site of a former dilapidated baths
The project includes technical and environmental improvements to both the Main and Lesser Halls, reconfigures the former police station cell block into unique and distinctive dressing room accommodation, and provides a new scene dock area to provide proper ‘get in’ access to the stage of the Main Hall.
Geddes’ surgery was in fact quite brutal on Edinburgh’s old town. It is hoped that our contemporary techniques are more subtle in bringing together different services and facilities to serve existing and attract new users. In addition, by addressing the fabric repairs and building services issues, it is anticipated that the running costs of the complex will be reduced.