Page\Park have helped Southside Housing Association to refurbish one of the last remaining tenements in the Gorbals. Lying empty for a generation the category A-listed building has emerged into the new neighbourhood of Laurieston as a solitary link to the area’s Victorian past. The surrounding area had lain blighted for three decades until 2015 when new-build housing was given the go-ahead.
The building had been commissioned by the British Linen Bank to house a branch of their bank within the then thriving commercial area of Glasgow’s Gorbals. The bank’s architect was James Salmon Junior, the third generation of the Salmon dynasty, a contemporary of Mackintosh and arguably second only to him as a proponent of Glasgow Style architecture.
Salmon was within his most productive period, producing designs for two of the city’s foremost and most innovative buildings of the period: the Art Nouveau style Hatrack office building which used the new architectural style to maximize light penetration into its narrow Georgian house site and the Lion Chambers of 1904, a very early use of reinforced concrete.
Following closure of the bank in the early 1980s, the upper floor flats had been vacated by the early 1990s. Following several years of deterioration, in 2007 the building fabric was mothballed with temporary measures taken to arrest the decay until funding could be found to restore the six flats and ground level commercial accommodation.
Our brief was for careful and sensitive restoration of the building to current needs, modern two-bedroom flats for mid-market rent on upper floors with the former ground floor premises converted to a café/restaurant. This was planned to become an important social hub and historical anchor to the newly developing Laurieston residential area and to the new cultural quarter, centred on a refurbished Citizens Theatre.
Over-cladding of the roof had provided protection at roof level but below this, ongoing water penetration had resulted in total loss of internal structural timbers and finishes. A slow process of reinstatement built on limited evidence gleaned from archive drawings and remaining within the building itself, reconstructed the tower, unrecorded except on Dean of Guild drawings and lost at an early stage in the building’s life.
Although remnants of the original interiors remained, structural and decorative timbers were generally in poor condition and condemned wholesale due to widespread dry rot. Ornate picture rails were replicated in flats with period doors while the hybrid window design was updated to satisfy modern thermal and safety standards.
Floors and support walls had to be replaced wholesale and in a sequential basis down to the concrete floor at first floor level. This floor’s construction, of an early concrete with in-laid steel joists, is prone to failure but mostly survived testing while the pen-checked close stairs required cautious engineering. The close tiling has been replicated and this new finish offset by new doors has managed to recreate the original.
Southside Housing Association
Gorbals Street, Glasgow
NBM Cost Consultants
NBM Cost Consultants
Gorbals Arts Project