As a student and an aspiring architect, I choose to use architecture as a tool which can help solve current social issues which exist in contemporary urban societies.
Existing social issues are inherently intertwined with economic, environmental, political and physical factors within a city which affect us regularly in our every day lives. Furthermore, helping people and communities at street level through intelligent design, regular participation and cleverly focused programmes can assist whole neighbourhoods in developing sustainably and consequently make for more equitable and fairer city landscapes.
Stage 4 at the Glasgow School of Art has allowed me to further explore how design can help combat serious social issues like child poverty, education programmes, food insecurity and access to green space, all which are prevalent throughout specific parts of Glasgow.
Calton’s Climatorium, consisting of a school and cultural centre, will teach Calton, Glasgow, and the wider country context, the importance of green spaces and urban biodiversity when looking into the climate crisis. Coronavirus has prompted increasing studies which highlight the lack of green, accessible space within our cities, especially in deprived areas, and its consequential negative impacts on our health and well-being. This building will give the power of regeneration back to the community by educating the users on how to redevelop nearby vacant plots of land to increase urban biodiversity. It was also strive to provide more opportunities for children within the area through outdoor learning spaces which teach a new generation the importance of climate change mitigation. The programme aims to expand the current climate change education programme for all whilst giving back to the immediate surrounding population by providing a wider range of good quality green spaces which positively impacts their health and wellbeing.
Historically, the surrounding area to the Barras has always utilised the surround green space for play, domestic activities and for people’s well-being. Studies have shown that having easy access to good quality green spaces in urban areas can ‘promote physical and mental health’ as well as ‘reducing morbidity and mortality’. Since the coronavirus pandemic, the value of good quality green space has brought to light the vacancy of these spaces in deprived urban areas. This building recognises that mental and physical health is worse in deprived areas and works to improve that in Calton through enabling access to green spaces for all. Not only is female and male life expectancy lower in Calton than that of Glasgow, it is one of the lowest in Europe. Moreover, the percentage of children in poverty in Calton was 47.3% (47% higher than in Glasgow) in 2011. This building will work with Calton’s site specific opportunities to try and combat these two major issues. One of the site specific opportunities is the fact that 98.1% of people living in Calton live within 500m of vacant or derelict land, this is 63% higher than in Glasgow. This project recognises that the vacant plots of land in Calton could be developed sustainably to help ‘greenify’ the area and assist in improving the child poverty rates and the health and well-being statistics in the area.
The Growing Network
Intertwining food within labour will restore Glasgow as a food and produce market town by increasing its on-site production and exchange of food between its residents, the public and the market stalls/commercial outlets. Both the public and private spaces within the scheme celebrate the rituals of cooking, eating and growing. Recreating a community who grow, eat, and cook together will help build a lively, sustainable, and self-sufficient community on site at the Barras. This way of living aims to re-instate the historic links to water and agriculture in Calton as well as re-connecting us to the origins of what we consume. Creating a new network based around food production will help re-educate a population on healthier diets during an obesity crisis, reduce plastic waste production during a global plastic pollution crisis and help cut carbon emissions during a climate crisis – all problems which are at tipping point in today’s global society.