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Kelvin Hall, Phase 1

Kelvin Hall, Phase 1

Key Facts


Glasgow Life leading a partnership with University of Glasgow and National Libraries of Scotland.


Kelvin Hall, 1445 Argyle Street, Glasgow



Internal Floor Area



August 2016

A majestic ship docked on the banks of the River Kelvin

Project Info

Then imagine a covered gang plank from Argyle Street into this vast vessel of Glasgow Life sport space and museum, Hunterian university gallery and Scottish Screen film archive accommodation with its own internal street running the length, pierced by slots from the roof bringing light deep into the volume and by cuts into the plan to give views out to the verdant planting of the riverside and Kelvingrove Park.

Heritage & Conservation

The Category B listed Kelvin Hall, was originally built in 1927 as a multi-function exhibition and events venue. The primary aim for the redevelopment was to find a sustainable long-term use for this historic piece of built fabric in the heart of the West End of Glasgow. With its strong cultural identity, we re-imagined many of the spaces to draw out the most exciting elements from the original building.

With four vaulted roofs and ancillary buildings to the West and South; the redevelopment is the first of many phases to refurbish, extend and reuse the Kelvin Hall. Much of the existing building was retained with smaller new build interventions kept to a minimum on the exterior. Old exterior walls were re-imagined as interior features and existing vaults were re-roofed and re-glazed; flooding them with light for the first time in years. All changes allow users to experience and understand the past of the building while experiencing its new modern facilities.

Entrance Foyer
Entrance Foyer
City & Land

Located directly onto a main thoroughfare and in close proximity to the Riverside Museum, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, University of Glasgow and the Kelvin Walkway, the building acts as an anchor for the surrounding area. It is now widely accepted that public buildings do not succeed in isolation. They need to integrate and contribute to an area, most importantly placing the local community at its heart in order to thrive. To this end the building is a mixed-use cultural hub containing Glasgow Sport, Glasgow Museums, The National Libraries of Scotland and The University of Glasgow.

By working within the footprint of the existing building our main intervention was to create a new fully accessible entrance on Dumbarton Road. This opens up the previously blank façade to the River Kelvin, thus creating a new and invigorated connection to the wider city.

Photo Montage
Photo Montage
Arts & Culture

Sport and academic departments sit cheek by jowl in the Kelvin Hall, with each space providing technical and environmental facilities specific to each use. The building provides numerous cultural academic facilities which include: museum stores, conservation labs, seminar rooms, the Scottish Screen Archive, a lecture/cinema theatre and exhibition spaces. At the same time from a sporting cultural perspective the building offers a large multi-purpose sports hall, a gymnastics academy, a large fitness gym and fitness studios.

Our previous experience in all arts & cultural sectors enabled us to bring the differing technical demands together in a simple cohesive design. Many previously regarded the disparate facilities as a culture clash but, the Kelvin Hall proves that proximity of differing sectors creates a vibrancy and an environment ripe for the creation of new ideas and experience by offering something for everyone.


Key moments within the building are created to anchor each of the uses. A large foyer containing the reception and café over-looks the River Kelvin. To create a space of civic quality and scale a palette of hardwearing materials ranging from terrazzo, steel, timber and brick is adopted. This material palate creates the foundation from which the remaining spaces of the building draws.

The Avenue drives through the centre of the building and it is from here all functions can be accessed. Three light wells along it’s 100 metre length create exhibition and circulation spaces to the upper levels. Niches are carved along the length of the space to create points to sit, exhibit and view the functions of the neighbouring spaces.

To develop a rich design approach, we collaborated with Graven and Stucco to create a number of special spaces throughout the building as well as a graphics package to develop the interior branding for the building.

Workplace & Health

The holistic brief and design provides a facility which synergises Leisure and Culture, offering not only modern sports facilities but also secure, stable and publicly accessible storage for over 1.5 million objects and screen archives. This creates an unprecedented facility with public access for cross-collection research and collaboration. Research and teaching labs allow for careful curation of the Hunterian collections, bolstering existing and new academic courses.

A new home for the research and administration departments of The Hunterian is created on the rooftop of the existing southern perimeter block. Discretely added above the eaves level is an ultra-modern space with 360-degree views to the south and along the River Kelvin. An exterior rooftop deck creates a private space for staff to enjoy the fresh air over a lunch break.

In addition to administration spaces we also created a suite of seminar rooms and a state of the art lecture theatre with full cinema facilities for screenings held by the Scottish Screen Archive.

For the first time in its history the various functions of The Scottish Screen Archive are brought under one roof. Allowing for the documentation, repair and storage in both physical and electronic formats. Carefully conditioned stores and workshops maintain the collection within regulated targets. Public spaces are provided for the viewing and researching of the collection.



“Since the Kelvin Hall reopened it has been a huge success attracting c. 25,000 visitors each week. Combining the success of this first phase, with the future development of the remaining available space has the potential to make the Kelvin Hall one of the most significant visitor destinations in Scotland.”

Glasgow Life Client

“Orientation was a key part of the brief due to the many different activities within the building. Again, this was successfully delivered by designing a simple but inspired central circulation route now known as the ‘Avenue’. Another great design intervention was the new extension and façade treatment. This not only captures additional internal footprint area but brings transparency to the building and animates the street”

Robert Gartshore Special Projects Team, Glasgow Life


Project Manager: Gardiner & Theobald
Structural Engineer: Woolgar Hunter
M&E Engineer: Harley Haddow LLP
Cost Consultant: Gardiner & Theobald
CDM Co-ordinator: Gardiner & Theobald
Contractor: McLaughlin and Harvey
Photographer: Andrew Lee
Lighting Consultant: Kevan Shaw Lighting Design
Interior Design: Graven Images