Stephen J Brown (He, Him, His)
My work is increasingly drawn to exploring the symbiosis between humanitarian and environmental welfare in regard to sustainable development. At the height of the pandemic, the importance of civic space was accentuated as private city functions were closed to the public and it was during this time that I worked for a practice in the Amsterdam. Here, I could witness the extent to which coordinated masterplanning, accessible transit, and well-curated public spaces could make the city’s quality of life more inclusive through a more equitable distribution of cultural provisions. My experience of Amsterdam was that of a city more resilient to the pandemic with a public life that could persevere in contrast to cities where underinvestment in civic space meant that public life ground to a halt once businesses closed.
I have sought to reverse engineer these observations to greater understand the mechanics of what generates human flourishing in urban settlements. The result is a series of four projects that together articulate a masterplan for a redevelopment in the east side of Glasgow. This exhibit presents them sequentially to demonstrate how each project builds upon the one preceding it, forming a unified vision of the locale as a more economically and socially inclusive space that possesses a stronger civic dialogue with the surrounding district.
P I : Praxis
Individual Housing Unit
Autonomy, Light, Connection
This first quick-fire project was an exploration of the modern living situation that facilitates a balance of domestic and work-related activity – a scenario accentuated by the covid-19 pandemic. The housing unit seeks to utilise elevation rather than walls to generate privacy in its living spaces, thus allowing natural light to be maximised through a central light void, transparent facades, and semi-opaque paper partitions. Light and social connection are used as means to soften the imposition that work has on dwelling, and the flexibility of the spaces allows the users to integrate work into their domestic situation rather than having work dominate it.
P II : Borderlands
Access to Culture
The locale of the Barras markets lies in the Calton district in the east end of Glasgow. This proposal for the site seeks to provide solutions to the economic decline of the area and address the increasing abandonment of its public spaces. A new citywide public transit network is introduced to revive Glasgow’s dormant infrastructure whilst providing more cohesive connections from the city to the Barras. This was the start of a phased redevelopment plan that clears out redundant car parks and replaces them with green, public space, and the installation of a marketplace that allows local merchants to participate in the economic revival of the area.
P III : Castle In The Sky
Urban Mass Housing
Diversity in Living
This proposal is for a design of an urban housing scheme. It seeks to challenge the insular nostalgia that often arises in isolated districts in the aftermath of their commercial heyday. The approach was to design a visually bold and economically accessible housing block designed to accommodate people from different stages of life who earn a variety of incomes; combined with the labour activities and exhibition spaces introduced to the site that allow for cultural expression, this aims to stimulate diversity into the local community.
P IV : Sonder
A Library That Emulates the Civic Function of a Church
The fulcrum of masterplan is the proposal for a library. The inspiration behind the church-like forms and religious motifs came from observations of Glasgow Cathedral and the manner in which it holds dialogue with the surrounding civic realm. In documenting how people occupy the immediate space outside of the building it became evident that the cathedral has a powerful relationship with the those that pass by and take time to rest in its presence. As a spiritual centre and locus of civic identity, the cathedral has the capacity to serve the residents of Glasgow – even those who do not share the beliefs of its programmatic function as a religious space.
In a similar fashion, the library aims to revive a sense of civic identity into the locale, providing spaces in which individuals can find their place in the civic realm.