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Featuring Featuring | Jeremy Till | Finn Harries | | Jeremy TillHaiek | Finn Alejandro | BenHarries Channon| | Alejandro Haiek| | Ben Channon | Slash Other Slash Other |

themacmag themacmag

2020 / 2021 2020 / 2021

MacMag issue 46 A publication by Douglas Baldwin Robyn Gibson Sofi Håkansson Laura Scalco In collaboration with Mackintosh School of Architecture Printed by Mixam, Watford, UK, 2021 Cover image Front, MacMag Editors Back, Alan Stewart, April 2017, 110 St Vincent themacmag e: web: In Memory of Mark Baines




On the 11th of March 2020 – The World Health Organization declared a worldwide health emergency crisis which remains in place, up until this day. #MacMag46 refuses to grant the pandemic the full spotlight. It has had enough attention. However, after a year of devastating statistics, moments of desperation and personal realizations, not acknowledging such a groundbreaking turn of events feels unjust. With the MacMag being a yearly publication, it is crucial to understand it’s content in context. With that said, #MacMag46 is viewing the present health crisis as an opportunity for humanity to take agency of our mistakes and achievements by delving into the conversation for change through social, political, environmental and technological avenues.

Things are changing, and some have already changed. Join us in this very different edition of the MacMag – one where the editors have met more times over Zoom than in person, sketched on shared screens and typed from different corners of the globe. Let us guide you in a journey to dissect the stance and perspective of our collective voices, and how the pandemic has helped us question the narratives of the architectural discussion today. In whatever form or place you may be reading this; we really hope you enjoy. All the best, The Editors of #MacMag46










1. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY - On Race and Architecture


THE OLD WHITE MAN’S CLUB - Tyrell Scarborough


Entries of Daily Injustice - Experiences of BIPOC MacMag Students


A Visual Eassy and Acknowledgement - /other








The Anthropocene and our Climate debt. - Article by Douglas Baldwin




FINN HARRIES - The Right Kind of Change




3. TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS - Adapting to Change in the Modern Era


BEN CHANNON - Technology, architecture, and our wellbeing




4. TO RE-POLITICIZE ARCHIETCTURE - Questioning The ’God’ Complex


ALEJANDRO HAIEK COLL - Working across time & space


JEREMY TILL - Socially engaged architecture






MArch by Conversion


CRAFTING A MAGAZINE AMIDST A PANDEMIC - ”Can you allow screen sharing?”


BRIAN EVANS - Epilogue




1. Social responsibility

On Race And Architecture Resources that you have to check out: Harvard Implicit Association Black Females in Architecture @blackfemarc Hiphop Architecture @hiphoparchitecture FAME Collective @fame_collective Photo: Tanya Gersiova @x.pointless BLM Protest, Glasgow


"To be Black and in architecture, you cannot be mediocre: to be visible, you have to be excellent. And you have to be excellent at every second of every moment of the day... Yet, sometimes, even with excellence, you can still be invisible." Mario Gooden for Architectural Record, 2020

In a society hungry for dramatization, it took the innocent murder of George Floyd for the world to re-focus and realise that the ashes of racial injustice are still very much burning. Millions plastered their solidarity with the movement in home-made signposts clumsily taped to their windows – a small but disruptive way of spreading a message in times of global isolation. In our efforts to timestamp #MacMag46, it feels imperative to mention racial inequalities within the design industry. In this issue, the editorial

team feels it is our duty to provide a platform for this ongoing issue, yet are acutely aware of the irony of underrepresentation which is reflected in our very team itself. As such, we have approached the topic with a willingness to learn about our privilege and allowing our interviewees to dictate whatever narrative they felt most suitable and in need of divulgation. #MacMag46 stands in solidarity with BLM and advocates for the ongoing global fight against racial inequality. by Laura Scalco


Drawing Parallels Between Frantz Fanon and Personal Experiences

The Old White Man’s Club Throughout my life, there has been this consistent idea that both my value and worth as an individual was somehow subpar by comparison to that of my peers. This thought particularly started to resonate with me when I began to consider myself in relation to my white classmates during my navigating of grading school. Frantz Fanon, the famed scholar and philosopher, shared a very similar problematic view of this societal blight. Fanon, having grown up in Martinique, was unfortunately met with a culture that helped solidify a subconcious idea of inferiority - a concept that closely resonated with me. Above all other philosophers I’ve come to learn of, Frantz’s revelation of his reality mirrored very closely his experiences to that of my own. I suppose I should start this venture by first exploring and understanding my past and how it came to shape me. When I was young, I never really came to note any visible differences when it came to engagement with other ethnicities - most certainly not within academia. At times, I would even go out of my way to make it known that my experience of the world was no different to anyone else’s. Unfortunately, this was quite far from the truth. Fanon explained within his writings that a Black person living in a post-colonial society will often fundamentally sustain a feeling of inferiority due to the unspoken narratives created by the colonizer. Even when these traits of oppression are not actively being projected upon the colonized populous, it maintains the subconscious effects of societal influence. From personal experience, these socially ingrained norms have often impacted how I see myself in relation to my white peers and shaped my idea of attainable success throughout my studies. I have always put great doubt in all that I do, both from a design aspect and academically, because of this social stigma. Due to this, the journey to finish my degree in Architecture has been an up and down path with many unpredictable turns. I spoke very generally of some of the harmful longlasting effects on Black people who have been subjugated to this societal oppression of the post-colonial condition. To expand upon this situation more critically, I refer back to some of the writings from Frantz Fanon. In ’Black skin White Mask’, Fanon explains the dangers that cultural assimilation has on Black people. Frantz further examines that this process of change, strips the colonized populous of their culture, replacing it with that of the colonizer. When a population undergoes a trauma of a forced cultural shift the outcome is quite unpleasant, causing them to lose sense of purpose, value, and most notably an overall sense of identity. To draw from a more personal vantage

point, having grown up in the deep south of the United States, I can say that Fanon’s claims do indeed hold merit in how these systems work to disrupt a feeling of worth and value in an individual. It is quite jarring to think on how effective these nuanced practices are in influencing even the strongest of minds and it was only when I was able to fully remove myself from my environment within the United States, that I was then able to develop the ability to see these barriers more clearly. For years I have found great difficulty in finding my own personal aesthetic in this globalized world of the postcolonial condition as a Black man. As I grew to understand my craft within architecture more, I would actively attempt to find ways of “thinking outside of the box” by not allowing known cultural bias to influence how I curate my concepts. This, of course, was very difficult - sometimes seemingly impossible - considering a person’s culture subconsciously navigates mostly all that they do. When one has been subjugated to cultural assimilation, the very nature of one’s identity is unknowingly replaced by the colonized culture, an act of systematic immersion that has dramatic effects on not just an individual’s confidence, but also the confidence they have in relation to the capabilities of their designs and the practicality of their development. This distrust leads to an inherited vail of caution when collaborating with individuals who are culturally aligned with the continent of Africa. In order to alleviate oneself from this stigma, a person must have the ability to detach themselves from what they have learned to know to be true. Years of varying art institutions have led me to an array of differing perspectives within the discipline of architecture. Though mainly quite similar with the tonal value of standardization, there have been a few things that have come to light as a constant. In the United States, the profession of architecture has acquired an unspoken nickname: “the old white man’s club”. When I first came to know this circulated title, it altered my outlook on my future within the profession. I came to realise that this community to which I felt so closely linked to had a bar on its admissions - a restriction being one I could never actually attain because I wasn’t a white man and I would never be a white man. When reading Black skin White mask, Fanon explains that one of the problems within this cultural assimilation shift is that there becomes this subconscious desire to become the white man. He went into further detail of this by saying that the Black man often is, in a sense, forced to change -, to be molded into the image of the ‘white man’. The colonized change themselves just shy of becoming the colonizer.

When one has been subjugated to cultural assimilation, the very nature of one’s identity is unknowingly replaced by the colonized culture



More directly speaking, the colonized Black man can change a great deal of himself to assimilate to the culture of the white colonizer, but the colonized Black person will never fully transition because he will never be white. Though I did come to learn of new restrictive barricades for myself along my journey, I was quite determined to pursue the course and see my development through whilst preforming this as best as I could in order not become a statistic of this systematic psychological oppression of the colonizer. One thing I have come to

Photo: Irynna Annuar, BLM Protests, 2019

know is that my ability to charm and network with people has opened doors in places, or lack thereof, have not. A few years ago, I was employed by my former Dean of the building arts and Principle Architect of a well-known firm in my hometown. It was a small firm, with an amazing studio culture which led me to forget about these unspoken barriers that I would face as I continued through the

tapestry of the learning environment. One day, however, nearing the end of my employment with said firm, I was reminded of how this limitation was sadly still a reality for me going forward. One of our more prominent clients was given a tour of the office along with an introduction to the designers who worked to take his dreams from the conceptual to the actual. I stood near my desk alongside the five other designers and watched as each hand was shaken and how sincerely heartfelt each one was. I was the last person to be formally introduced. My boss carried out the formality of introduction, which I then followed with a sincere jest of interest. My greeting was met with a dead grasp and associated with an even more bleak response of lifelessness. This client reminded me that I was different, and that I wasn’t of value in his eyes. Despite my efforts to not allow this to get to me, it became evermore apparent situations like these are an inevitability and I mentally began to spiral into a negative place. Shortly after this experience my employment with the firm ended. Looking back, I wonder: what caused the untimely death of my employment in the firm? What can be done to ensure these types of conditions are not a reality for others who have been subject to the subconscious effects of the post-colonial condition? How can I effectively engage this knowledge to move forward in my architectural practice? Frantz Fanon has enlightened me to better understand that I am not alone in this experience of oppression. Having been given this knowledge, I understand that with consistent management of potential cultural influences and awareness, I can effectively limit how much my perspective is altered in this cultural vacuum. I know that in time I would eventually like to become a positive role model for other designers of colour, someone for them to draw strength and inspiration from. Frantz Fanon explained within his writings the importance of this influence on people. These visual associations of people that resemble oneself provides a much- needed cultural reference to help strengthen a sense of identity in the marginalized populations of the colonized. Having learned through my own personal life experience, I am now far greater equipped to better navigate within my understanding of the profession of architecture. In closing I would like to address the fact that having to experience these discomforts within one’s skillset should not have to be a reality. Through awareness and education, this blight of social disparity on people of colour within the post-colonial condition can be neutralized. Growing up, one should not have to feel any different from another due to the pigmentation of their skin.

by Tyrell Scarborough

Social Responsibility


Experiences of BIPOC MacMag Students

Entries of Daily Injustice "Man, I miss home and the people in my community, there aren’t many people I can relate to here" Dear diary, Today I had a lecture about Urban planning and housing.... it was quite interesting. We were introduced to the idea of Jane Jacobs and her theories on how to develop and sustain a community. As someone who grew up in similar conditions as the lower and working class of New York, it was somewhat refreshing to have my lecturer explain it to my course instead of myself. Man, I

miss home and the people in my community; there aren’t many people I can relate to here. Anyway, we learnt (well, my course learnt) about the importance of community and ensuring that you design to cater to their needs and sustaining their identity (as Robert Moses refused to do). When discussing the lives of those living in estates and tower blocks, my lecturer asked if any of us had lived in similar conditions, and


I was the ONLY one who put my hand up. Lol, Awkward... I enjoyed explaining the charms of living amongst my neighbours in my block of flats, however I was hesitant to describe the crime and difficulties of growing up there. I felt mixed emotions. Whilst some of my peers looked at me with interest and fascination, others didn’t seem to care. Fair enough, they were not there to learn about me ahaha. Anyway. That was my day today, a small opportunity for my background and culture to be a part of the course. I know it is no fancy modernism, traditional wood joinery or whatnot, but at least I could finally relate to a topic in my course... even if it meant discussing my life as a working class black person living amongst council flats. Till next time! -D

Entries of Daily Injustice

Dear diary, Today there was a Friday lecture. The speaker this time was a British female architect which talked about her works and practice. As a woman myself, it was quite fascinating to hear the architectural experience from a female perspective - for a change. You know, there was somethng that made me feel an instant connection to her right away. Not sure if it was just because we shared the same-sex or if it was somethng else, something that I didn’t quite realise on my own.

I’ve noticed how the subject of diversity is getting onboard in the school for sure. I notice the effort. But sometimes I still question, why

there is no other female architects of colour? Someone like me... a

female and also an Asian.

You know what, I noticed something. Teachers and students here, when talking about Asian architecture etc, what they really mean is “Japanese architecture”. They know nothing.... or maybe I should say, they at least they know Japanese architecture.


Anyways. See you for now. -L

Dear diary, I am thinking about the past few years of my education. And the shift I have noticed in what I have learnt and what I want to learn. I keep thinking about this lecture last year that burst my little architecture bubble. I cannot stop thinking about it because it made me feel very uncomfortable. This young practice was invited to give a talk about the social impact of architecture. After the lecture, I realised that I was not alone in feeling that way. Most of my friends, as well as the organisers of the lecture, felt that the narrative this practice had built around its work was insensitive and tone deaf. Most of the projects they presented that day were based in African and Asian countries. The way they spoke about engaging with the local community where their projects were based was concerning. The images they showed as a part of their presentation even more so. It seemed like they thought of themselves as saviours. The images they shared consisted

of primarily white participants helping build a project in the African or Asian village, dressing up in local costumes and taking photos with the local children. At one point they even mentioned that they started designing a project without doing a site visit. So how would they know what was the best strategy for that project? Maybe their intentions behind these projects are more altruistic than I am giving them credit for, but none of my friends and I thought so. Now that I think about it, I realise that it was important for me to experience that, and to be able to have honest conversations about it. We even organised an event to talk openly about this lecture, voluntourism and the ethics of architecture. A lot of students from other years came to talk and that was the first time I was a part of such a candid and healthy conversation. Some agreed with how I felt and some disagreed. But it was very important to have that discussion. Or I wouldn’t have learnt to look beyond what I know. D

Social Responsibility


a visual essay / a constellation of past work and precedents

by /other

/other is a collective run by Mac students Alyesha Choudhury, Mia Pinder-Hussein and Carl CZ Jonsson.


Carrie Mae Weems Untitled (Woman Brushing Hair), 1990 Untitled (Man Reading Newspaper), 1990

Carrie Mae Weems Untitled (Woman And Daughter With Children From Kitchen Table Series), 1990 Untitled (Nude), 1990



an acknowledgement of a discourse far deeper than the headlines of the past year Instagram/Twitter: @slash_other

an e dr


ic e

in who you are

& you challenge the system constantly.



Image credits (row by row): 1. Carrie Mae Weems 2. /other 3. Mark Peckmezian / /other 4. / / 5. Man Ray / Moses Sumney / Black Planet / Edward Said via Opposite: 1. Solange / Luis Buñuel / /other / NTS Radio / Philip Guston 2. /other 3. Terence Dixon 4. /other / / Scott Elmquist 5. Mona Hatoum via Andrew Dunkley & Seraphina Neville / Forensic Architecture 24



Do you thi nk it wi l

You accept [ your identity ]

r ve le

Solange, “Don’t Touch My Hair”, 2016 Luis Buñuel, e Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, 1972

tti ng



ope? e Eur k i l k loo

? bly ta

uncomfor 9


DO YOU T H I N K IT WILL E V E R L O O Kbecause the people who L I K E made the EUROPE? language I can’t find the words to tell people how I feel

are the oppressors.

Forensic Architecture The Bombing of Rafah (Gaza), 2014

Mona Hatoum Homebound, 2000





Stage Leader Kathy Li Co-Pilot James Tait



Places of Learning

Studio Tutors Graeme Armet Sam Brown

In Stage 1 this year our theme was ‘Places of Learning’ which was particularly apt as we moved between virtual classrooms, online archives, real and virtual studio and out into Glasgow and our own habitats. Our ethos, used the RIAS strapline ‘Maximum Architectural Value Minimum Architectural Harm’ to collaboratively explore architecture through this period of global uncertainty and urgent concerns about climate change. Our first investigation examined the foundations of sustainable design through an analysis of 30 examples of global vernacular architecture. This was followed by ‘Being Human’, a project exploring social and spatial justice in a

Stage 1

design for disability. Our Habitat, allowed them to collaborate with other first years across GSA on an open brief. Then our final architectural design project we introduced our students to the opportunities for adaptive re-use of several buildings at risk in Glasgow, asking them to develop and design their own Place of Learning. The effects of the global pandemic certainly didn’t give us the opportunity to provide our students with that wonderful introduction to architecture in an artschool. We missed their real life energy and enthusiasm and despite never meeting them in person the results of their work have been terrific.


Iris Tudor - CO-LAB 2 16

Our Habitat. In this project, I have been working collaboratively with three other students from different departments of the school. We have aimed to gain a comprehensive understanding of each other’s habitats. After reading the text by Robert Smithson, we decided to respond to his relationship with text and imagery. We decided to write a few sentences about what we could all see out our windows. The aim was for us all to respond and create an image of what we presumed our teammates were seeing. In the second part of our project, we decided to write a more comprehensive piece of writing to further explain our environment. Our writing developed into a piece that involved more than just our visual surroundings. In response, we created a body of work that we felt illustrated each other's experiences. This part of our project was derivative of ‘The death of the reader’ by Roland Barthes. In his essay, he explains that once the writer has created a text, he surrenders the way in which his words are perceived, and the reader has full control.

Stage 1


Traditionally, dance halls were the social hubs; a space for entertainment and social interaction. However, there is a disparate lack of diversity within these spaces. This proposal reinvents the traditional dance hall reshaping its cultural prominence within not just Glasgow but the wider community. The transitional sliding doors help dismantle the exclusion traditionally present, challenging the inclusivity of public dance halls. Transparent polycarbonate cladding balances the personal freedom of the users while retaining their safety. The contrast between the traditional brickwork and timber framing symbolises the new era for the dance hall. This retention or historical material commemorates that without those who came before us, we would not be able to dance as ourselves.


A new volume appears adjacent to the old Lock Keeper’s house. It seems as though it should have always been there -it couldn’t be built anywhere else or at any different time. The house itself, left unchanged, celebrates a community-led ceramics workshop. The potential use of the added volume is undefined. It can host anything from slip casting workshops to film screenings opening up to the protected courtyard or the canal. The space morphs to its users’ everchanging needs and is heavily shaped by the circumstances present at its construction time. The materiality is defined by whatever can be found in the immediate surroundings or sourced from the numerous demolition sites around Glasgow. The only thing set is the basic premises of old/new volume and the overall logic of inhabiting the given plot of land. I then step back and see how the space unfolds.



GLASSGOW ’A comical critique of public realm. This short comic critiques the overwhelmingly bad public realm found in- and around Glasgow’s city centre’ The satire use of the character, ‘Roy MacMoore’ - inspired by The Simpsons - takes the reader on an infomercial-style journey across Glasgow’s city centre to reveal the existing bleakness. Drawing additional inspiration from the ‘Situationists’, this comic examines todays western society through the lens of the unexamined and unrecognised cultural forces of capitalism. The Situationists notion of the "Spectacle" in particular has become a key critical mechanism for understanding advertising and consumerism's impact on our psyches - a subject of which this comic book looks to flip on its head to give a capitalistic stance of what is now deemed a spectacle in todays society. An example of how this has manifested is, on page two, whilst consumers - or stereotypical commodity fetishists await their new Apple product, MacMoore’s explanation of the ingenious idea to make the queue more of a spectacle is to introduce a virtual aquarium. The holographic sharks swarm around the consumers head and infect their psyche. This is representative of todays society, where we ignore the context behind the thing we are consuming so long as we are distracted by its shiny glass container. The looming presence of the sharks and their ability to disguise their cold-blooded killer status as a spectacle for us to awe over


represents the tech giants mesmerising hold on todays society. Graphically analysing theses aspects through parts of Glasgow such as the Style-Mile of Buchanan Street has aided in aligning the narrative with the Situationists critique that the benign professionalism of architecture and urban design has caused a sterilisation of the world that threatens to wipe out any sense of spontaneity or playfulness. The powers of state, bureaucracy, capital, and imperialism loom large over the comic panels and illustrate how detrimental they are to the everyday lives of the city civilians. The fictitious world created in this comic imposes itself as an avenue from which the human mind can reflect upon the existing condition, whilst simultaneously redesigning it alongside the author. It is precisely this moment which intends to intersect the nature of architecture and urban planning with the fictitious wonder of the comic. In architecture, but perhaps more importantly in public realm design, a static or momentary snapshot does no justice to the animated nature of the object or space itself. This comics intention is to start a constructive and holistic conversation of how we experience - or simply consume - the urban daily in Glasgow.

People Need Glassgow

Mathew Smith


Ryan Woods / Isaac Stanseby - NEW LANARK

Stage leader Luca Brunelli Co-pilot Neil Mochrie



Tools For Conviviality

Studio Tutors Graeme Armet Johnny Fisher Isabel Garriga Alan Hooper

Inspired by Ivan Illich ‘Tools for Conviviality’, stage 2 Studio investigates the potential of architecture to address the ecological crisis, offering people a social/intellectual and spatial framework from where to interact and contribute creatively to the environment in which they live, outside the dominant forms of production and consumerism. Architecture as a tool for conviviality has been explored along the threads of 6 main themes:

Stage 2

a tactical and creative approach to resources, working as a bricoleur with matter, parts and form; a thoughtful strategy of adaptation and reuse, to reassemble and connect typologies, structures and spaces; a consistent approximation to context, seeking for places and their meaning; a critical stance on activities, to their individual and collective spatial and temporal dimensions; a focus on rooms’ occupation, their atmospheres, boundaries and environmental properties; and a reflection on the dual nature of buildings enclosures, delimiting the interior and relating to the public realm

- STUDIO PRACTICE MSA Stage 2 Tanya Belkaid Alessia Crolla Lauren Hartley Morgan McComb Caitlin Rae PDE Stage 3 Kyle Carmichael Sam Rice

Group Work

The Studio Practices collaborative project between MSA and PDE asked us to create and represent a scenario of integration of the15-minutecity and the last mile ecosystem. Researching a given area in Glasgow, which in our case was Springburn, we created two fictional personas, Rebekah and Yasmeen, based on the demographics of the town, and used these characters as vessels for the exploration of the urban conditions of Springburn.When designing an urban infrastructure that Rebekah and Yasmeen could interact with, we zoned in on their means of travel and routes taken around Springburn. We designed botanical tunnels which are woven throughout the town, using the old botanics, which is currently a derelict space, as the core of our integrations. While connecting more populated areas of Springburn to the park, the tunnels more immediately provide safety for our personas, through the use of automatic lighting and frequent exists. These features were at the forefront of our design process, and as a group we considered what would make us, as women living in Glasgow, feel safer. These simple infrastructures could make Springburn a morebeautiful, but a crucially safer place for women like Rebekah and Yasmeen.


Caitlin Rae / Lauren Hartley - NEW LANARK

I opened up the front side facing out to the River Tay using large panes of glass allowing light to flood the open plan section in the middle. The idea is to have open plan spaces split into different areas of activity by the existing beams which extend up to the new roof. Two balconies were created in the new design; one outdoor balcony covered by the roof sits above the existing meeting rooms and a new indoor quiet reading balcony sits floating up above the open plan area in the mid-section.


Project 3 was to explore contemporary live/work conditions in a rural context (New Lanark). The design had to include a working space that is either integrated within each individual housing unit or in adjacent spaces within the same building but with separate access. Our proposed design is for a ballet company who live on the site. There are 18 dwellings, each with a studio space on the ground floor and living spaces on the top two floors, with partitions between studios that can open to create larger spaces that allow for more collaborative work. There is also a performance space in the centre where the dancers can come together to put on shows which would hopefully encourage people to visit New Lanark and is also something new and exciting for the residents.

Stage 2


The project was to re-configure the existing Bo’ness library made up of three main buildings, an old tenement, Tavern and the newer midsection. The existing building felt disconnected and very dark given its lack of windows. In my design I decided to create a large wave line roof flowing from the tenement building all the way over to the tavern. Giving a feeling of connectivity and to create synergy with the environment being situated next to the sea.

Set within the context of the New Lanark World Heritage Site, we set out to develop a circular economy hub whilst accommodating an older demographic. Intrigued by the site’s natural resources and it’s unique topography, we aimed to create a community hub that utilised the landscape as well as incorporating the trades of these individual’s working lives.


Comprising of two sets of offset buildings connected by a ramp, the north building plays host to an adaptable work unit, whilst the south building forms the accommodation spaces, where the residents purchase a set cubic volume of space rather than a set of pre-described dwellings. Our final outcome seeked to create modern living solutions that reflected both the industrial past of Mulhouse and New Lanark.

Ryan Woods / Isaac Stanseby - NEW LANARK

The last enquiry into housing for semester 1 tasked us with exploring the Live/Work typology through the adaptation of a chosen housing precedent. (Cité Manifeste, Lacaton & Vassal, Mulhouse, France)

The regeneration of Bo’ness library seeks to re-invent the user’s perception of what a library can be and transform the position of a library in modern day society. My propsoal seeks to scrap the stereotypical library rules of STAYING SILENT and ‘NO EATING OR DRINKING’, and actively encourages users to do the opposite. This decision seeks to force users to recognise that educational resources can take many forms- from trying new cuisine, to swapping vinyls or engaging in the art of conversation. Try doing all that on an Iphone! As part of the proposal the central body of the library has been redesigned into a bright atrium with communal tables and three stalls providing users with street food (rotated on a monthly cycle from local businesses), a cafe (library owned) and a wine bar (because who doesnt love a glass of vino with a good book?) With this re-imagination, I felt it important to carefully consider the materiality of the building. In doing this, it became obvious that lots of aspects from the original structure could be retained and repurposed in one way or another- which was essential to the overall aesthetic and sustainability of the final design.


Nwe Oo Khine / Zhihan Zhang - NEW LANARK HOSPICE

The proposal involves two masses that are inspired by traditional boat huts that are positioned between the two main existing buildings. The size allows for a vast expansion of floorspace, with its height providing picturesque views of the Firth of Forth and beyond. With reading rooms, computer suites, children’s section and a café it has all the necessary facilities to create an enjoyable experience.


Our chosen site is an existing car park beside the New Lanark hotel and is the closest to the River Clyde. To take advantage of the accessible area and site characteristics, we have proposed a Hospice that will provide unobstructed views of the river. We see it as a form of vibrant life and believe it can become our main source of therapy for patients with dementia at the end of life. The Hospice will accommodate not just the patients, but their family members, carers, and other maintenance staff. By adapting the back-to-back row houses from the residential neighbourhood of Borneo & Sporenburg, we have provided an indoor therapy bath, reading room, exercise room, shared dining & social space with a courtyard as well as rooftop greenhouses. We have also designed a square for people to relax but also to separate the Hospice from the hotel premises. Upon entering the Hospice, there will be communal spaces which will slowly transition into a more private area for patients, eventually opening up to the views of the river

Stage 2


This project entailed taking the current Library in Bo’ness and reusing it with additional floorspace. Preserving as much as possible was key to this project, so both original buildings remain in place in my proposal, with the 1980’s extension being the only part removed. Additionally, the 80’s staircase has been repurposed as a lift shaft.



Throughout the project I amied to retain the industrial look of the building through the use of materials, atmosphere and structure. I wanted to preserve as much of the exixting building as possible by keeping the existing structure and expanding it with new beams and columns to support my extension of the building.

The library as an institution is subject to a constant change in the collection of knowledge due to the influence of social media on public perception. My aim with this project is to adapt, expand and re-use the existing space in the library to find flexible organisational interpretation and enhance its attractiveness as a social encounter. Being sensitive to the scale of the building and respecting the existing structure, I create a multifunctional space with flexible furniture to maximise its use. The new extension, which serves as a reading room and space for interaction, connects to nature and opens during the summer to the green area on the west to provide performance and outdoor exhibition space.



Our Sponsors

People Need Glassgow - Mathew Smith


Introduction to the Environment Issue

Responsibilities of the Rich

Photo: Douglas Baldwin, October 2019, Auroville


The MacMag #46 looks to address the theme of environment and climate, summing up what the magazine feels are the most drastic stories to affect the architetcural world.

Climate change has never before been so obviously distructive than during the past year. 2019-2020 bushfire season in Austrailia set many records, causing devastating effects to both landscapes and livelihoods. A mean temperature rise of 2 degrees perpetuated the fires, a direct link to climate change and a forshadowing for the future. The Covid 19 global pandemic is directly linked to our changing landscapes. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports released in 2019 show changes in temperature and rainfall

have altered the distribution of diseases. This seemed to predict the coming of Covid 19 and the following of the global pandemic. Our response to our findings is to use the magazine as a tool to educate to the impacts and imediacy of climate change and its spread on our world as designers for the future.


The Anthropocene and our Climate Debt

The Responsibilities Of The Rich Humans are distinctive in the ways we make environments in the web of life. Can a new word be introduced to establish the way the environment makes humans? The MacMag looked into the new craze of the term Anthropocene to try and find a harmony within a human created planet.

Photo: Alan Stewart, November 2020, Mugdock


Our Climate Debt

Does understanding the Anthropocene offer us new ways to unite against the climate crisis? In figuring out the social and political troubles linked to the word, we can learn the climate responsibilities that each nation must face to combat climate fairly. The most recent period in earth’s history, the Anthropocene, is a geological era dating from the start of significant human impact to the planetary ecosystems. That’s the start, and presumably the end is when humanity’s impact dwindles to insignificance or, perhaps more likely, it’s violent end? Determining the limits of an era which is happening right now and which is defined by the repercussions of our dominion is perhaps necessarily complicated, and disagreements as to when it started get at the heart of an important discussion about impact and responsibility. One school of thought dates the Anthropocene from the start of human agriculture, up to 11000 years ago; at the other extreme, another argues that it commences from the first nuclear weapons test on July 16 1945. One simplified explanation of how there can be such extreme disagreement is that while scientists look to biological and physical impacts on the ecosystem in chronicling a beginning for the Anthropocene, historians and humanitarians might look to social adaptions that have significantly changed the way we live with our planet. The reason dating the Anthropocene becomes particularly important when considering how to combat climate change is that it has the ability to limit the responsibility that we associate with planetary harm. A second problem of climate responsibility that arises when thinking about the Anthropocene is the generalisation of human involvement. ‘Anthropo,’ a prefix which means human, attributes the age’s planetary effects to humanity as a whole and omits consideration of both the cultural and political differences that exist between nations and across generations and eras. Countries which have powered their industrial economies with fossil fuels for a long time have had a much greater impact in terms of their direct damage to the planet than countries that came later to their industrialization. CO2 emissions are the largest contributor to climate change and the warming of the planet, with CO2 lasting up to and often more than 300 years in the atmosphere and creating a blanket for the planet to warm up from. Furthered by the capitalist doctrine of valuing the earth’s natural resources as ‘raw materials,’ a rift between the global north and south has seen many of the southern nations with abundant natural resources being exploited. The global south often bear the brunt of the consequences to date with the warming of their generally hotter natural conditions;

this illustrates how people who have contributed the least to the climate emergency are frequently those suffering from it the most. For some, considering the Anthropocene is a way of holding accountability. Using scientific measurements of earthly degradation and putting a value on contributions and extraction from the planet in relation to its warming, this approach acknowledges the importance of political discourse to inviting conversations to combat further damage to the environment. Through this lens, Accion Ecologica, an Ecuadorian activist group looked to equalise a cultural imbalance of responsibility by implementing a global ‘climate debt’ and stopping oil extraction in the Yasuni National Park. An area of almost 10,000 sqkm, the park is home to some of Ecuador’s most treasured and biodiverse rainforests, as well as a number of the world’s last uncontacted indigenous tribes. The park also happens to sit above some of Ecuador’s largest oil reserves, up to 850 million barrels of oil that, if extracted, could lead to burning up to 547 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Extracting the oil offers huge investment into Ecuador’s economy, so to stop the drilling, the group suggested subsidising a climate debt to pay the revenue expected from the oil wells. They argue that Ecuador should not burden the whole cost of leaving its oil in the ground, that the cost should be split between countries with strong economies who have already exploited the natural resources of the planet. The scheme looked to benefit everyone involved. Firstly, decreasing the chance of common diseases reaching indigenous people and the destruction of their habitats; secondly, the rich biodiverse plant life and species within the park would be protected and finally, contributing nations would benefit from the reduction of the vast CO2 quantities into the atmosphere and the damages incurred through global warming. The plan would also succeed in providing the Ecuadorian government the money that would have been gained from the fossil fuels to invest in clean renewable energy as well as health and education. A poll in 2011 showed that 83% of Ecuadorians wanted to leave the oil in the ground, and so the government supported the vision and championed It to the world. The Yasuni plan offered a model to other countries to follow suit, but while an initial agreement was put in place, the funding was slow to follow and largely never came through. In 2013, the Ecuadorian government set to drilling in the park. The government maintains that the extraction is being done with great care in order to protect the environment, but the approval of two new oil wells further into the Yasuni park in 2019 will see it encroach into ‘the intangible zone,’ an area left to protect the remaining uncontacted tribes.

The Responsibilities of the Rich



Our Climate Debt

In the tragedy of this tale there is a bright message: activist groups are successfully finding ways to enforce consideration of climate justice into a global realm. On the back of the year 2020, the unavoidable effects of the climate as well as the virtual power of online citizen movements give hope that future attempts to implement schemes under similar circumstances could find greater traction. Governments and corporations have previously been able to politically marginalize climate change for decades, masking its harm for economic benefit, but we are now in an era of open source and accountability. Add to that the unavoidable natural disasters that unless prevention systems are in place could harm economies more powerfully than any lost trade deal. There is still one side to the Anthropocene coin left to flip. A final hubris associated is that the term in both invention and use revives fantasies that humans can control nature. One such manifestation is ‘disaster capitalism,’ describing the way the rich and powerful use natural disasters as opportunities to seize control in favour of industry. Disasters, which are often linked to the climate emergency, share a common thread with other great societal impacts in that they offer the chance for great and systematic change. As we progress deeper into the Anthropocene, the pattern of natural disaster becomes more frequent. This is now presenting a re-occurring problem where national leaders are favouring the advice of lobbyists and industry over and above climate change experts and scientists to appoint regrowth and repair opportunities, making the process inherently slow due industry bias. At times, this has seen disastrous backlash effects such as the failed levees and failed ensuing rescue systems after Hurricane Katrina, leading to the death of nearly 1500 citizens in New Orleans alone. Another subtler example which illustrates human fantasies of trying to further control and adapt nature was thought up in the Paris agreement in 2015. ‘Nature Based Solutions’ looked to improve land management actions by bettering carbon capturing and reducing greenhouse emissions. On the face of it, this would appear to be a progressive idea which could help to address our climate emergency. However, Accion Ecologica have described the movement as a new form of green capitalism, allowing many of the previous oil, mining and other major polluters to continue their business and profit from disaster. Accion Ecologica’s criticism goes further, highlighting intersectional problems around ’Nature Based Solutions’. With many of the windfarms built in the northern hemisphere from resources mined in the southern hemisphere using, as Accion Ecologica metions in their recent article

on green capitalisms, ’metals that come from areas where women are violated and have to go further and further in search of clean water and firewood to have energy in their homes.’ It is therefore not possible to speak of these ’Nature Based Solutions’ without addressing the associated racism, colonialism and patriarchy that comes with the histories of the benefitting countries. It is clear that although the momentum for clean energy is moving in the right direction, the political and social injustices are being ignored that accompany the climate crisis on the planet. Whilst my education and privilege affords me the comfortable position to try and decode the new popularity of the term Anthropocene, I’m aware that many are not in the same position, and that for many of these people, the impact of climate change is an even more urgent issue. The changes to the planet are now unavoidable and climate change is impacting some in such a violent way that within the next 10 years their homes may not exist.

It is important that nations with the political agency to change their ways of consuming natural resources do so with the knowledge of the debt they owe. That their inflated role in the devastating impact in the Anthropocene to date necessitates an inflated sense of accountability in finding solutions for both the planet and its most affected citizens. Compensation must be offered to the countries who are unable to gain the economic agency through the same means. Using the new age term of the Anthropocene, not to fan the flames of industry’s ego and channel greed, but to hold misuse of power accountable and record the effects on our planet, a final concession in the understanding of the Anthropocene might come in acknowledging the wrongs that have occurred from viewing nature as a commodity. Whilst we must consider human rights and environmental injustice through the lens of a more focused Anthropocene, tailoring our views to accountability, I believe we can also view nature as the oppressed and so look to repair our cohabitation of the planet and the resources we live through.

by Douglas Baldwin

The Responsibilities of the Rich


The MacMag’s Top


Following our research and interviews, the MacMag team compiled an easy to digest list of our 4 most useful and shocking climate facts for designers to use in facing a future tackling climate change.

1 The Fact :

’Agriculture currently accounts for 70% of global fresh water use’ The Cause : Enhanced agriculture productivity has supported comsumption and food availablity for a growing population. The Effect : Large regional

variation (agricultural growth and forestry) contributing to increase in greenhouse gas emissions, loss in natural ecosystems and declining biodiversity.

Responsibility : If there is room to grow, get your seeds and sow. Design with urban farming stratergies for cities whilst protecting and rewilding the landscapes we have left to support our planets natural ecosystem.

Photo: Douglas Baldwin, June 2019, Suffolk Fields


2 The Fact : ’The average global temperature for 2020 was 1.2 degrees above the pre-industrial 1850-1900 level. There is a 1 in 5 chance of temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees by 2024’ The Cause : An increase in CO2 emissions deplete the earths ozone layer and adds to the greenhouse gasses trapping heat and making the planet warmer. The Effect : A

global rise in temperature. Ecosystems are projected to be unable to adapt to temperature increases and perminent loss in species and habitats will occur. For sensitive ecosystems such as kelp forests and corals a limited increase to 1.5 degrees already offers a very high risk of extinction.

Responsibility : Take care of the natural habitats we have left. Build only were necessary, design to retrofit were possible and pursue local and renewable material sollutions.

4 The Fact :

’The Global North is responsible for 92% of excess global carbon emissions’.


The Cause : The Global North, since becoming aware of the impacts of climate change, have favoured immediate economic development and the fossil fuel industy over and above investing in climate conservation and renewable solutions.

The Fact :

’The Construction Industry contributes 39% of global carbon emissions and 40% of the UKs. The Industry has the influence of a further 7% of the UK total emissions. Within this in-use emissions (typically cooling and heating within buildings) contributes to the largest quota, over 80%. The second largest quota comes from the Manufacturing process 15% ( largely the heating and drying when making materials). Transport use acounts for 1%.’

The Cause : Air conditioners along with other In-Use appliances require significant amounts of energy to work properly. Air conditioners alone cause up to 100 million tonnes of CO2 each year. The Effect : The

associated emissions add to the ozone’s depletion and further cause what is known as the greenhouse gas effect and global warming.

Responsibility : Design with energy in-mind. Open source software such as EC3 embodied carbon calculator helps you design holistically from material source, labour intensity and Inuse performance.

The Effect : Climate Injustice at a nation scale;

The Global South, as a result of being further behind in the industrial and technological revolutions lacks much of the needed infrastructure and economic stabability to switch to renewable sollutions. Environmental Injustice at a community scale; rising sea levels disproportionately affects indiginous communities, many of whomes homes and ways of life risk irreversible flooding damage in as few as 10 years. Racial injustice at a human scale; due to proximity to fenceline zones (places close to chemical facilities) Black people are exposed to on average 1.54 times more fine particulate matter that white poeple. Particulate matter is linked to serious lung and heart problems. Responsibility : Always work with justice in mind. Design towards a future system you believe in. Some systems include climate tax for those who have caused more harm to the planet. Designing to protect rights for land and communities to and design to de-polutte sites harmed by industry for the communities affected by poverty.

EnviroMental Facts and Tips





Photo by Lily Bertrand-Webb

The MacMag asked Finn Harries to comment on what climate responsibility looks like for the next gen architecture graduate. A voice to look out for, Finn has held a TED talk on climate response and been featured in magazines such as Vogue with his online media platform Earthrise.Studio. The studio is his latest endeavour, set up in the middle of the pandemic along with his brother Jack Harries and Alice Aedy. They look to confront the climate crisis head on and tell human stories of those living on the front lines of climate change. They have created a successful Instagram platform to voice these stories by combining their respective internet followers. Finn kindly met us on a Saturday morning over zoom to share his thoughts. MacMag: What is Earthrise.Studio doing to combat the climate crisis? FH: For our generation, as we stare into the abyss of a climate crisis and wonder how on earth we got here. It starts by understanding that this has been a story we have not understood for a while and that we have not communicated it properly, in fact we have confused the information. So that’s partly why I started Earthrise in the middle of the pandemic, to try and get the story straight. To draw on scientific literature, which is quite often daunting and distil it down into Instagram posts which is the media we all consume every day, in a way that educates people. It’s from there that we can start to take action – hold companies and government accountable. MacMag: Is the aftermath of the pandemic a pivotal moment to act upon climate change? FH: The Pandemic, which is first and foremost a total tragedy, not a scenario we would wish in any instance, offers us some really interesting opportunities. Never before have we had such a strong link between our encroachment on nature and the rise in Zoonotic diseases. People are forced now to reflect on our constant destruction of the wild places, if there are any left in the world and the link between that and our human health. Resilience is a word that is critical when we talk about climate change. Resilience is the capacity of an ecological system to adapt to change whilst maintaining its core function. That is the definition that ecologists use and that’s

the question that a lot of people are asking. Do we have the capacity to adapt to the changes that we know are coming? We know the climate will change a certain degree over the coming century. The question is how much are we able to navigate and adopt those changes. So, the covid 19 pandemic is an interesting time to look at how our systems respond to threat and change and highlight the floors that are being revealed. MacMag: 35-40 percent of the global emissions come from the built environment. Is Architecture adding to the climate crisis and what can architects do to combat climate change? FH: You can get into specifics on mass timber or architectural proposals for reducing carbon emissions but for me there’s a much broader more interesting conversation about systems change. I’d love to see more timber in the world but we are not going to get to where we need to get to through small architect lead interventions, we are going to get where we need to get to, which is a carbon zero world by 2050, through structural systemic change. And to do that you have to at least propose what this new system looks like.

"What we need to do is look at how we create a system change and through the lens of system change we start to appreciate we exist in a very complex web of processes where humans are just one aspect of a series of living systems that help the earth selfregulate." The answer is no, architects have this amazing skillset that’s arguably underutilised and will become more important as we move towards a future that is increasingly defined by destabilisation but with that a great need for shift and change. As architects we practice the art and science of manifesting a world that doesn’t yet exist and that is a really valuable skill set in a time when we know the world needs to look fundamentally different to the way it does now.

The Right Kind of Change



Photo by Mitchell Phun

Finn Harries

MacMag: If policy is the way to combat the climate crisis, how can we be sure new systems give communities agency? FH: That’s why I think resilience is such a key word, and community. That’s what Earthrise is about, that’s what Extinction Rebellion is about and that’s what architects do really well, is to design for community. Its naive to assume there isn’t a change coming that will cause quite a lot of damage and harm in the coming decades, that’s just the science of the topic we are talking about. You can plug in equality or equity there and look at the systems of the past and recognise

’The phrase carbon footprint was a term invented by the fossil fuel industry to shift responsibility back onto the consumer and away from the corporation. ’ MacMag: How should individuals go about making a change? FH: The individual has to recognise the power currently sits with the realm of industry and government and that that is where the pressure needs to be put. That pressure can be applied by forming community and Extinction Rebellion is

’Earthrise photo taken in 1968 on the Apollo 8 Nasa mission of planet earth as the spaceship came around the surface of the moon. - People understood the ore of this shared environment we live in and also its vulnerability its just a thing floating in a mass of darkness’

their systemic injustices that are baked into them and correct for those. There are many scenarios here were it gets worse, were the new system is more unjust were power continually becomes concentrated as it is happening right now in the few rather than the many. So, it’s a great point if we are talking about change how do we ensure it’s the right kind of change. That’s why community resilience and acknowledging social justice and the need for social justice become critical as we transition.

one example of that but there are many examples of people coming together under a shared goal to try and build a better future than the one we are currently facing. A great example of that is in November this year in Glasgow is the cop 26. It’s the 26th version of a global conference of leaders coming together to negotiate their targets to reduce carbon emissions, we need to turn up on that we need to put on more pressure than there ever has been, we need the people on that table to feel the weight of responsibility that they are carrying, whether we like it or not that is an example of where power is heavily concentrated and change can be made.

The Right Kind of Change


MacMag: How do you think we can put on that pressure in Glasgow? FH: The platform that I have didn’t come from anything other than these strange digital tools that we all have access to. And use them to engage people. So in a way we all have access to the same tools to tell a story about this issue. So again it comes from community, we shouldn’t be acting as individuals I n this its too big its too complex. Theres a great group called the architects climate action network. ACAN an amazing group of mainly architects who meet every week and they organise and the build campaigns together they puts pressure on RIBA and educational bodies and they are creating change. They are having an impact and that just a group of people who are fed up and frustrated and totally overwhelmed by the situation and they started to organise and its really effective. So its about nading together and finding people within your school or finding people locally who share the same interests as you and coming together and organising campaings essentially. Whether they are digital or physical that sum up the change you are wanting to see in the The adaptive cycle is a broad way of understanding the shift that we are looking at. Its by an ecologist called Buzz holling whos was prevalent in the 80s and 90s and wrote a lot about resilience in ecology and culture and he theorised this concept called the adaptive cycle which is that all civilisations and all natural ecosystems move through the same infinite loop and grow using all the resources around them and at some point either through using up all the resources or a natural disaster occurs they collapse. But then the system reorganises itself and within this collapse you have an opportunity for change. The greatest opportunity in the entire cycle. Then the system reorganises itself and begins to grow again. We see this in culture from the greeks to the romans. We are looking at a loop and within this distruction comes this great opportunity for change, and so we must lean in to help reorganise the sytem to bounce back from the collapse that I would argue is currently happening. If you are a pecific islander living in cobati… one of the lowest lyng island in the world your looking at a future in which your home dosnt exist in 10 – 20 years so your looking at collapse. That’s happening today it just depend were you are in the world to witness it. And so embrassing that as a reality we can look at the next stage that comes after that.


The Right Kind of Change

Photo by Tim Kellner


Stage Leader Tilo Einert Co-pilot Kirsty Lees


Energy, Landscape & Culture

Studio Tutors Adrian Stewart Henry McKeowon Ian Alexander

The main studio project of stage 3 engages with the themes ‘energy, landscape, culture’ through the design of a residential music retreat and a performance hall in Balloch on the shores of Loch Lomond, with Sistema Scotland acting as the client. The two semester-long design project has been developed through a number of different phases, from a fundamental understanding of user, place, context and environment to the development of a masterplan and the subsequent design of the two facilities.

Stage 3

The development of the structure and construction was integrated in the design work and supported by the Architectural Technology subjects as well as through interACT, an interdisciplinary collaboration with students from the fields of engineering and quantity surveying. The key aim of the studio brief was to establish a position towards a low-carbon approach. A number of explorations into form, orientation, layout, fabric and construction and the monitoring of their environmental implications have supported the students in making information-based design decisions.



A large driving force of the project was to capture and celebrate the surrounding tree canopy of Loch Lomond. The aim of the project was to emulate the experience of being lost within the woods, where through play and adventure children could grow and develop.


The motif of trees runs throughout the scheme, reflected in the timber structure throughout the scheme. The residential element of the scheme was designed as three major blocks, which allowed for more independence for the pupils for explore their own unique musical qualities. The more public spaces of the project are built out of brick to act as roots to support and ground the rest of the project whilst also creating inviting spaces.

Stage 3

Contained and protected in a juxtaposing metal warehouse container shell, it creates a building that functions efficiently within the main envelope, which is made specifically for the residents. The scheme compliments the landscape, calmly interacting with the nature of the site of Balloch, incorporating childrens play and imagination with the building itself. The external metal structure sits free standing as an act of transparency of the building but also allowing the users to have full ownership of the space and make it their own.


A human jigsaw of interlocking public and private retreat blocks which alter and facilitate the imagination and perception of children/the user, complimenting the use of music and activities that will be shared inside.


Leonie Bruggenwerth - SEADRIFT

I developed a scheme for Sistema a charity in Scotland to design a music retreat comprised of accommodations and performance hall for their music education and foster social interactions in tandem with recreational activities in the heart of a beautifully landscaped setting. My design seeks to adhere to a vision of architectural landscape, exploring both the site, as well keeping in sight its wider cultural, geographical, topological and psychological terrain. It sits on the landscape as a long narrow building aiming to highlight the shipping history of Balloch. The placement of the building sits on the land just like a ship that was pushed by the force during a storm onto the land. At the core of the design lies not only the planning the retreat, executed using a poetic approach to placement, but also the environmental challenge of implementing this with a zerocarbon strategy. Main material used is wood derived from Scotish Oak, and particular to the area, and the same wood traditionally used for the material with which to have built boats of the area since the 18th century. Creating a sense of harmony and oneness with the environment.


Stage 3

Eleanor Cunningham - MUSIC RETREAT

The design for the music retreat and performance hall is based on a desire to provide a safe, yet playful environment for vulnerable children to retreat to in a beautiful landscape. The form of the two buildings take inspiration from the linear nature of the site, both in features of the plan and details of the façades. The repeated structural columns give a regular, linear rhythm and guide circulation throughout the proposal, while the various roof-scapes aim to subtly emulate the distant hills on the far shores of Loch Lomond. There is a sense of transparency through both buildings, giving transversal views in both directions which take advantage of the stunning location and helps establish an open and welcoming environment for the users of Sistema Scotland.


Abby Hopes - MAKE DO

This project grew from my own lived experience of orchestra residential trips as a young person. My memory recalls a positive, organic experiencewhich grew from the gathering of people, the making of music. No matter the context or circumstancesthe people made it special. Sistema Scotland emmulate my experience with their Big Noise programme, transforming young people’s lives through musical education, whilst ‘making do’ within the constraints of their provided built environment. With the creation of their own residential retreat and performance hall, the proposal facilitates the culture of Sistemadriven by the variety of scales in which they gather together. Ownership and agency over space are central to the concept, allowing the young people to feel a sense of belonging within the public and private realm of Balloch. To ‘make do’ assumes to settle for lesser. But with the climate emergency as our reality, we must use what we already have to our advantage. The proposal celebrates adaptive reuse of materials: creating an assemblage of buildings, for the assembly of people.


Stage 3

Perching on the mouth of Loch Lomond, overlooking the entry point of Balloch, this series of buildings provides a base camp for young people to immerse in a musical retreat, allowing access to the surrounding nature. Its design was informed by the pragmatism of lightweight boatshed structures in the area, and prioritises ease of assembly and disassembly to cater for evolving uses of the site in an environmentally conscious manner. Cork-block cabins with double height clerestory windows offer individual refuge, and space for music is created by a cascade of practice rooms, doubling up as a seating area on their roof, enclosed by a polycarbonate shell, which is hung from a glulam exoskeleton. The scheme intends to be a beacon from within the town, without intruding on the serenity of its surroundings.

Julian Caldwell - BASE TO THE LOCH

Sistema Scotland’s Balloch Retreat and Performance Space



The beauty of music is that it can be played anywhere without the need for a specific environment or space. The proposal looks to offer coherent objects and spaces, both internally and externally, that promote the spontaneous playing of music.


The client, Sistema, has a clear philosophy to provide an environment that nurtures young, disadvantaged children through the medium of music, that impacts on their whole being and development.For the Balloch community, the proposal reinstates a physical and visual link with the pier that has become abandoned over time. Its strategic positioning and elongated fingers stretch into the landscape creating a physical axis that encourages the public to use the pier again. It was important for the scheme to remain sensitive to the surrounding natural world in massing, scale and materiality. Capturing the spirit of Sistema, intriguing ‘tree worlds’ have been created that provide an unconventional living space, both exciting and stimulating for its users.

Stage 3

The residential building hosts up to thirty-two teenagers/young adults and up to ten teachers/carers to come for a period of one to four weeks to connect by learning and playing an instrument, making music and interacting with each other. The retreat’s role is to liberate them from their everyday lives, offering them the opportunity to ’grow’ together, mentally and emotionally to achieve their full potential. The residential building is a retreat that provides a range of private bedroom for meditation, relaxation, sleep and rehearse, as well as shared spaces for socialising, practising, eating and cooking. This project is strongly focused on human needs, like privacy, comfort, shelter and to achieve all of these needs an intersection between the private and shared realm is highlighted through the orientation of the spaces.

Beatrice Rogojan - THE RETREAT

‘The Retreat’ building is located in the picturesque Balloch; a town full of natural richness, where the Highlands, Loch Lomond and the forests meet in a beautiful landscape.



The project is about designing a residential retreat and performance hall. The residential retreat and performance hall are separate buildings on the same site. Our client, Sistema Scotland, is looking to strengthen the offer for musical retreats for teenagers and young adults from more distant areas of the country.


The site is located North-East, next to the River Leven and on banks of Loch Lomond surrounded by trees. Both the buildings have green roofs that you can walk on and primary façade material being fieldstone.

Stage 3

The retreat’s design derives from a phenomenological investigation of encampments I encountered when visiting the proposed building site. This phenomenon was then scrutinised in an attempt to determine its “essence”, (i.e what an encampment truly is when it is broken down to its core meaning), so as to render this tangibly via the retreat’s architectural forms. The “campfire”, where people share stories, relax and eat food are reflected in the design of communal areas such as common rooms and

the dining hall, whereas the “tents” compose the retreat’s more isolated accommodation spaces. The structure is raised on an array of steel stilts, similar to the poles of a tent, as the site is designated as being at risk of flooding, with the remaining scots-pine (readily available around the site) frame resting above the steel platform. The southern facade makes use of passive solar heating via trombe walls, which correspond to the gaps in the trees adjacent to them


The Balloch Retreat project set out the task of designing a retreat for underprivileged children in the Govanhill area of Glasgow, to provide a reprieve from city life to an area of renowned natural beauty: Balloch, on the banks of Loch Lomond.



Andrew Wilson Stage 3 Balloch Music Project Title: A Place For PlayBig Noise use music to form long term interventions and investment in young people’s lives and their surrounding communities. A Place for Play provides spaces that facilitate play, interact with the surrounding landscape and are flexible in their use, with the goal to assist Big Noise in building relationships and creating long term interventions.


The residential retreat aims to engage, enthuse, and challenge the young people that visit, while the performance hall is a space of occasion and congregation with the intention of becoming a social hub for the Balloch and Big Noise communities. The design uses children’s building blocks as inspiration and plays with their scale, taking them from pieces that are played with to form imagined landscapes and structures, to volumes that are freely moved around and played within.

Stage 3

The client, Sistema, has a clear philosophy to provide an environment that nurtures young, disadvantaged children through the medium of music, that impacts on their whole being and development.For the Balloch community, the proposal reinstates a physical and visual link with the pier that has become abandoned over time. Its strategic positioning and elongated fingers stretch into the landscape creating a physical axis that encourages the public to use the pier again. It was important for the scheme to remain sensitive to the surrounding natural world in massing, scale and materiality. Capturing the spirit of Sistema, intriguing ‘tree worlds’ have been created that provide an unconventional living space, both exciting and stimulating for its users.


The beauty of music is that it can be played anywhere without the need for a specific environment or space. The proposal looks to offer coherent objects and spaces, both internally and externally, that promote the spontaneous playing of music.


Finley Perry - SENSE OF PLACE

The central design aim in this project was to provide a beautiful and harmonious set of functional buildings for the town and residents of balloch, the buildings users, walkers and provoking thought, engagement and pleasure.


I wanted the buildings to sit in the landscape and i wanted them to become part of the landscape through the passage of time. I also wanted to minimise any adverse impact on the environment by using sustainable, local materials. I was inspired by the work of christian norberg schulz and his development of a phenomenological approach to architecture, humanising it by creating 'a sense of place'.

Stage 3

By reusing old materials and forms, the project hopes to safeguard a unique regional character for the primary stakeholders; the community, and young music students, who, during their stay in the project’s musical retreat building, can become the next stimulus for new life at Loch Lomond. The other building, the performance hall, is the meeting point between the students and the community, where old and new collide, extend, and regenerate the Place.


Loch Lomond is an anchor for Scottish identity. The famous banks harbour a remarkably consistent cultural mode buttressed by architectural archetypes that permeate the Loch periphery. This project respects that cultural mode and the landscape that conjured it by creating familiar yet progressive forms out of local and recycled materials. The entire material base can be sourced within 15km of the site by utilising by-products, deposits, and renewable industries.


Antoni Ruszkiewicz - RETREAT IN BALLOCH

The whole scheme has been formed in a fan-like shape which unfurls in a welcoming gesture to its users, visitors, and the community of Balloch. The residential unit and the performance hall have been set apart by a descending path marked out along the axis spanning from the town centre and the summit of Ben Lomond.


In order to augment comfort and functionality, a clear division by zones has been implemented across the scheme. For instance, all spaces intended for practicing and performing music has been concentrated around the amphitheatre – a converging point for the whole architectural composition that celebrates spectacular views of River Leven, Loch Lomond, and the distant mountains.

Stage 3

The translation of the Gaelic name alongside the natural setting of the town resulted in the geological form of the two buildings. The significance of Balloch being the Gateway Town to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is presented through a tree structural system within the two most natural communal areas of the buildings. These symbolise organic gathering spaces within a forest, a place where children seek to explore, providing the perfect setting for music, interaction, and play.


Our location and setting continuously influence the decisions we make. This Residential Retreat design for Sistema Scotland is centred around these influences of place. The town of Balloch translating to ‘mountain pass’ from the Gaelic word ‘bealach’ is situated in West Dunbartonshire on the South edge of the shores of Loch Lomond. This wider geological influence on the town is represented in the building forms as they represent the Boundary fault line of the lowlands and highlands.


Cara Taggart - HIDE AND SEEK

The design of this project provides spaces of privacy and security while creating forms that aim to evoke childhood play and togetherness. Pyramidal structures create gathering spaces while smaller, modular bedroom spaces allow for peace and solitude. This provides each child with a comfortable space to perform, play and rest while they are encouraged to express themselves and adapt the spaces to their own needs.


The interaction between buildings is a key element, provoking exploration throughout the site, exploring the ‘negative space’ in between structures and the surrounding landscape. Each individual building has a relationship with another, aiding in telling the story of its function and atmosphere. This is expressed as the abstraction of a game of ‘hide and seek’. The buildings evolve, with the landscape, from large public pyramidal structures, into more intimate bedroom spaces: finally reaching the river at the retreat pavilion, concealed within the tree canopy, allowing users to immerse themselves in nature.

Stage 3

This high-spec, versatile development provides the facilities to house and embrace children of all ages, acting as a home away from home and enabling the residents to embark on their journey of musical talent. The scheme is made up of a linear residential facility with shared accommodation and educational spaces, while the performance hall acts as a central hub of community life for use by the residents and the public. The development aims to ensure the highest level of Energy efficiency and sustainability is achieved, while exploring and being sensitive to the themes of Landscape and Culture ensures the school’s longevity as an inclusive and accessible space for the charity and the wider public.


The Balloch Music School aims to establish a residency and performance space on behalf of the charity SISTEMA



The proposal aims to build a connection between Sistema and Balloch, drawing on the history of the place as a result of geography and how this relates to the present. Through these means it aims to establish a link between the individual and the public. All to be experienced within the architecture through the articulation of music.


The overarching significance of the site gets highlighted through voids. It leaves the negative space of the former railway to contain the historical and geographical context of the site and to frame music. The quality of spaces are defined by their function and Sistema’s ideas of belonging andfaith. This is expressed by varying levels of timelessness within the retreat and achieved through materiality, variations of durability, structure, flexibility and arrangement.

Stage 3

The brief of this project was to design a retreat and performance hall for Sistema Scotland, a charity providing a music education for children growing up in neighbourhoods across the country. The site was in Balloch, on the edge of the Highlands. I wanted to explore holistic issues that are affecting us right now and propose design solutions to help solve them: A global pandemic, climate emergency and obesity crisis. For a global pandemic, it was to design a space that aids natural, clean ventilation with seamless circulation within the spaces. For the climate emergency, it was to explore floating architectural design that can adapt to ever-changing weather conditions and be a solution to rising sea-levels. Implementing cycle infrastructure was a way of tackling obesity and lowering the overall carbon-footprint. Looking to the Netherlands and Denmark, one can see the benefits cycling has on the overall health of their citizens if the infrastructure is designed correctly and built properly.


Balloch Retreat and Performance Hall: Investigating COVID, Obesity and the Climate Crisis.



Like all still water forms, Loch Lomond can develop potentially harmful blooms of Blue-Green Algae on its surface and shoreline, which can be disruptive to people and wildlife. Emerging technologies in this scheme harvest and reuse microalgae rather than waiting for them to dissipate naturally from the water. Photo-Bio-Reactor technology, integrated within this scheme's windows, uses the building's wastewater, microalgae and sunlight to produce biomass.


As the microalgae photosynthesise and grow, they absorb co2 and reduce air pollution in the area. This biochemical process naturally generates passive solar heat energy for the building. Having more microalgae in the photobioreactors during the summer months allow less solar heat energy to enter the building due to solar shading but provides natural insulation during the winter months. The volume of microalgae in the photobioreactors can be reduced by more frequent harvesting, providing greater control over thermal comfort within the building throughout the year.

Stage 3

I have tried to rebalance the architectural intent with sustainable technology; using sustainable methods and materials wherever possible, maximizing passive gainssuch as solar gain, and prevailing wind to combat overheating. I believe that architectural intent should work with technology, where neither should dominate the other, as I believe the most successful project creates a unique blend of these potentially polarizing ideologies.

Joseph Staitis - URBANIA

The architectural intent of the project was derived from journey- from Balloch town centre, through the park and ultimately to the beach. The building should respond and correspond with this idea, and act as a link when this journey is broken, at the car park. To emphasis journey, I was primarily inspired by Hans Scharoun, and how he crafts orientation, placement and overall form into the heart of his work. I liked especially the way he broke down space into smaller clusters, which I have replicated to a degree.



The design of the performance hall was a Stage 3 project part of an interdisciplinary collaboration with students across Glasgow University, Glasgow Caledonian University and the West of Scotland University. However, due to Covid19 this soon became a digital design and virtual engagement process as opposed to the conventional physical group meetings.


Throughout the five weeks lead an intensive and quick design project which developed through a series of video calls in conjunction with weekly tutorials with specialist tutors across all universities providing guidance and direction. The atmospheric collage section was the output of the five-week interaction project with my group. The drawing of the section depicts a ‘inhabited wall’ in the middle of the building which serves as the inbetween spaces for rehearsal rooms and storage facilities for the adjoining hall. This also creates the separation between the hall and the foyer acting as a physical sound barrier and buffer zone serving the transition of space and blocking any unwanted noise of the foyer.

Stage 3

I have chosen to include photos only of the performance hall as they were part of the third-year collaborative InterACT project. The perspective section highlights the simple timber structure of the building while the elevations capture the building in the surrounding context. The colourful figures showing the scale of the scheme are the colours of the SISTEMA charity to connect the project back to the client and they contrast to the grey, stark weather outside, creating an inviting public space.


These images are from my thirdyear project. The task was to design a performance hall and residential retreat in Balloch for SISTEMA Scotland, a charity dedicated to changing the lives of vulnerable children through music.



On the southern shores of Loch Lomond, thick, heavy walls fold and wrap to create two distinct buildings atop a small mound. They reference the heritage and context of Scottish castles in rural landscapes with thick walls, splayed windows and a direct pragmatic response to the surrounding site.


The residential building has thick straw bale walls for the children to inhabit, regardless of where they are from and their living situations they all have the same room of their own. A courtyard connects the residential to the performance hall, and serves as a transition space from the public to the private. The performance hall is enveloped by a wall of service and circulation space, which it intersects at one point to offer views of the surrounding wood and river. Furthering the project’s cultural agenda, the hall is entirely flexible for a variety of performances, not only for the performances of the charity, Sistema, but for the people of Balloch.

Stage 3

Vincent Pu Zhang - BIG NOISE BALLOCH

The project identified four main areas to focus on in response to the client, users and public: 1) Tackling spiritual crisis, bringing faith and spiritual fulfilment. 2) Developing a sense of identification and personal identity. 3) ‘Retreat but advance’, putting art at the service of society and making it more accessible rather than for just elite people. 4) Encouraging equality and inclusivity, adaptable to any background, class and culture. Findings show that Balloch has acted as a place of transit, in-between and boundary. The design is set out to reflect this significant piece of history of the site, the pier, embodying a line through which the highland boundary fault passes, separating two distinct tectonic terrains, the highlands and lowlands, a line on which the old railways used to sit to reach the steam- boats, bridging the two. The masterplan and the design of this music centre is committed to embodying and emphasising this direction, as we call it, the sacred journey. This project investigates and experiments the use of carbon fibre for building structure in an alternative scenario. Learning the consequences, it explores both the possibilities and impracticalities of this material, developing and projecting a thesis, or an antithesis.



The scheme’s purpose is to extend and facilitate overarching events. Events that may be read in the gathering nature of themes throughout space and time but are not necessarily experienced directly.


Stories in Balloch, a harbour town by the banks of lock Lomond are confronted by the ethos of Sistema, a charity organisation helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Unravelling sequences of events that took place in Balloch is necessary to realise its significance. Namely geographic phenomena, a human historic response and present local culture as a consequence. Appreciating Sistema’s ethos is the first step of empathy, in order to cultivate and grow their values. Building a community and giving meaning to children through playing music. Place and People are bounded together through material intervention. Energy facilitates, but is not limited, to basic needs of forming the stage. Transcending the notion of energy for physical to spiritual, structure and construction aim to trigger an emotional response to its users, to set the scene.

Stage 3

The importance of this theory has been translated into the special concept of the building in the spirt of a city, a collection of rooms with different heights and spaces measuring in different areas which allow toddlers to use exploration as an active role in learning. This tactile scale stimulates the children’s navigation skills by moving around their surroundings much like the urban environment. Abditory aims to contribute to a sustainable future for children whilst pushing the boundaries of Architecture with a close relationship to its immediate surroundings.

Rachelle Fairley - ABDITORY

This design works with the natural environment of Balloch and its long linear lines seen throughout the site. It responds to the Loch, engaging users with the water and enhancing their wellbeing. The role of the physical environment has a significant impact on the development of the children and is often referred to as ‘the third teacher’.



A Symphony of Play' aims to celebrate a harmony between the built and the existing by inculcating all the elements of the site into the new design. This includes minimum intervention on the trees that currently stand on the site and instead building around these. This has been accomplished through extensive research on root protection norms and by experimenting with different iterations to find the one that would best help reach this goal.


The presence of music is present throughout the architecture of the buildings. The horizontal elevations of the building from the street aim to enhance the verticality of the alder trees and other native Scottish species present on the site closer to the waterfront. The trees are included into the building and have adjacent spaces that open up to create nooks meant to encourage musical collaboration and activity amongst the students. The timber and glass facade of the buildings helps it blend into the surrounding landscape. The alder trees (known for their wood's musical properties in the making of instruments) are a symbol of song amidst which the students create music in sync with nature. The symmetry of the columns on the facade of the buildings follows the rhythmic order of the Indian musical notes or the sargam.

Stage 3

For El Sistema to assemble a music retreat on the site of Balloch Pier, the approach is to respond to the established heavy masonry boat-service-pier, and the newly grown woodlands behind it. By lifting the internal spaces on stilts, the site`s flood risk, due to its juxtaposition between Loch Lomond and river Leven, is avoided, and further creates big and small openings/pores of new playful spaces and circulations. This interprets a new vernacular, which gives the dweller a chance to feel El Sistema`s activities and community in a local and special atmosphere.


By establishing music communities, called `nucleos` for young people within vulnerable societies, El Sistema`s method to dwelling is found on unique and inexperienced places. A `nucleo`, described as a growing organism with big pores to the community, suggests a method of integration to an existing place.



Celebrating our 40th anniversary throughout 2021 St Matthew’s Parish Church, Bishopbriggs, by Gillespie Kidd and Coia. The refurbishment project conserves relief sculptures by renowned artist Benno Schotz, and includes a new collaboration with ceramicist James Rigler.

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4. Technological advancements; people and architecture

Adapting to Change in the Modern Era

How has the current social climate involving covid-19 made an impact on our daily lives and how we communicate? We embark on a journey to dive deeper into the changes it has brought, for better or for worse, what this means for the future, and what responsibilities we have because of this. Technology today is far beyond what anyone could have imagined 100 years ago. It allows us to live the lives we do, a fact which has been highlighted more than ever during the COVID 19 pandemic. If we were reliant on technology before, now it is even more apparent, since whilst having to stay home our screens have been our only way to interact with others. As architects especially, we now have a responsibility to build on this. We design buildings for people and spaces to be enjoyed. With technology and the wealth of communication we now have, we have become aware of how the lack of well-designed spaces paired with increased screen time can be detrimental to our wellbeing. Ultimately architecture is for people and people strive to be happy. Logicallly therefore, architecture should make people happy. Can technology help achieve this? Having to work from home - do we all need home offices? Or less offices and more areas built for freedom? Or even technological advancements that allow for both? The pandemic has shown us the responsibility we can take with this freedom and how we can utilise the wealth of technology at our fingertips to allow for far more innovative spaces catered to human behaviour, in ways which boost positivity and mental wellbeing.

by Robyn Gibson




Technology, architecture, and our wellbeing;

A Conversation with Ben Channon


Technological Advancements

The technology we use has affected the way we communicate - through conventional ways of speech and text, but also non-verbal communication through drawing and design. This then affects our architecture, and, in turn our mental health. What changes to technology and communication has the COVID pandemic brought about, what will stay and what will go, and how has it affected our responsibility to our own well being? #MacMag46 invited Ben Channon, mental health activist and TEDx speaker, to talk about these areas in regards to his work as an architect and wellbeing activist. Ben currently works with Ekkist, a British design firm with a focus on WELL design (commitment to advancing human health in buildings and communities) and has written a book, ’Happy By Design’ about the subject, bringing architecture and well being together. This is how it went; MacMag: Hi Ben, we can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this topic. Firstly, could you just tell us about yourself and your ethos, what your role is within Ekkist, and a bit about your book? Ben Channon: Yeah sure! So, a bit of background on me - I trained as an architect and worked on primarily large residential projects for about 8-9 years. Then when I was in my mid 20s, I had some of my own issues with things like anxiety and my mental health so that led me down a separate path and got me thinking about the relationship between buildings and mental health. Further down the line, that then became a broader interest for me, health more generally, and how the places we design affect this, which is what led me to move to Ekkist, where I work now. We are not actually traditional architects, but we call ourselves designers for well-being consultants, and our role really is to advise other architects, developers, and clients on how to make their buildings healthier. Covering all bases from the architecture through to the M&E and the servicing. But also, the operation side of things - how buildings are run and managed - by using healthy cleaning products instead of nasty pesticides, monitoring the water quality, all that

kind of stuff. A large part of that is based on the WELL building standard which we tend to use on a lot of projects and help clients to get their buildings WELL certified. In terms of my book, that came about because of those kind of mental health challenges I mentioned, that I had when I was 26/27, I suppose. And for me, I just realised that I had not really been taught much about that stuff at university either, about my own mental health but also in an architectural sense, I hadn’t been taught about the various ways in which the design decisions that I made were going to impact the people who are using my building. We get taught quite a lot of things about sustainability, but in terms of our design decisions, we only get taught how to bring in daylight or which materials might be better for different things. But the health and well-being of building occupants was talked about so rarely I found, and to me that’s really strange because myself and most architects I know, got into architecture because they wanted to try and make the world a better place, they wanted to design better places for people. Fundamentally for me that’s what this is really about, just trying to create buildings that are better for people. MM: We feel the same. We are told so often to design for people but never really taught how, especially in regards to well-being. BC: I think for me the issue is: what does that look like? We get told to design human-centric projects but what does that actually look like? And unfortunately, I think a lot of people who are promoting designing human-centric projects are completely coming from the right place, they’re doing it because they want to make people’s lives better. But actually, for me, the really important part of it is backing it up with evidence, and scientific data. We need to have studies that say - if you increase the size of this window by X percent it will have this impact on the occupants, or if we have a 2.3-metre-high ceiling versus a 2.6-metre-high ceiling, that’s going to affect say, things like levels of aggression and anger of people using those spaces. In a certain way we’ve got to have evidence to demonstrate that, it’s all well and good saying these big lofty statements like ”we want to create better places” but unless you actually know how to create better places it’s just kind of a bit idealistic, in my opinion.

Ben Channon


MM: We also have a few questions for you on how this pandemic has affected our well-being. For example, in your book you mention that 80% of our time is spent in buildings. How do you think COVID has impacted this? Obviously, it’s going up but to what extent would you say? BC: Quite a lot throughout the year. There was that kind of weird spell last summer where we were all allowed out again, but yeah, at the start of lockdown, and even in 2019, it had gone up to about 90% of our time. So, we really are spending a lot of time indoors even outside of lockdown. But obviously if you were following the lockdown guidance strictly and going out for a maximum of one hour a day, most people for exercise or whatever, then obviously a lot of people out there are probably spending 23 hours a day indoors. I know that on some days even myself, who’s kind of preaching about this, I’ve spent a full day indoors and not actually left the house for whatever reason. So, it’s definitely created a situation where we are spending far more time inside, even more than we would normally. As you pointed out at the start, that’s having a big impact on people. We’re seeing it now in the types of conversations that we have, people are far more engaged with the subject. I think people have really realised over the last 12 months what it’s like when you are stuck inside all the time, and if your space isn’t well suited to your needs, if it’s maybe too small or you don’t have a proper space to work. You know, people have suddenly realised: actually my home is having a really big impact on how I feel on a daily basis, and that connection between our environment and our mental health has really been highlighted. Obviously, it’s very hard to take any positives away from what’s been a pretty horrific experience for everybody, but if there was one thing that I think we can take away, it’s that people are starting to understand this subject more, people are starting to engage with it more.

and questioning the types of ‘workspaces’ needed. So, in relation to this, how do you think the technology we use to communicate has affected us and our well-being? Is it a help or hindrance? BC: I think there’s arguments to be made both ways, and I’m definitely not one of those people that’s just gonna say technology is evil and we need to get rid of zoom! I saw today, Rishi Sunak came out and said everyone should try and get back in the office if and when they can. I actually think that there’s been a lot of good from remote working, certainly for me it’s meant I spent a lot less time on trains and public transport, not running around to different meetings. I think one of the last things I did before lockdown, back in March 2020, was a trip up to Sheffield to give a talk there, and now you look back and think: well I could just log onto zoom and I wouldn’t even have to leave my flat to give that exact same talk. So, there’s definitely been some positives. People have found as well that they’re getting more time back in their lives from, like I said, less travel, less commuting, so that’s a big benefit. I know one of the biggest excuses people give for not doing exercise, for example, is I don’t have enough time in the day. Well, if you’re getting back an hour a day on your commute then there’s now no excuse really to not exercise. Which is definitely gonna have a well-being benefit, physically and mentally.

"I’m not one of those people that’s just gonna say technology is evil and we need to get rid of zoom! "

MM: Our focus for projects this year has definitely included this type of thinking. Especially in one of our fourth year projects, based around our time in homes and how we can redesign for that, incorporating outdoor space,


But, on the negative side, the amount of screen time we’re all getting is unbelievable really. I think one of the really important things about, like you said, face to face meetings, is that kind of human contact. I’ll come on to talk about loneliness in a minute, but the other thing is, every time you’re sat in a face-to-face meeting you were actually away from the screen. And now all our meetings are on screens too, so we literally never get a break. I imagine most people when they’re eating their lunch will probably put the telly on as well, so they’re looking at a screen again. It’s almost all our waking time, so that definitely has a psychological impact in terms of tiredness and screen fatigue. But can also bring a physical issue for our eye health.

Technological Advancements

Coming back to the part about loneliness, we know that that’s been a massive problem in the last year and I think over dependence, or over reliance, on technology could further that concern moving forward. So, I think we need to be careful that we don’t say ”let’s completely do everything over zoom or teams”, because we know that face to face value. And when it comes to morbidity rates, for example, loneliness is a serious factor in affecting these. It can be comparible to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or being clinically obese, in terms of the impact on your mortality. So, it is a really big issue that we’re trying to work hard to design out of all of our schemes at the moment. MM: Do you think once everything goes back to normal, once the pandemic’s over, that you and your company will continue with online working, or how do you envision that? BC: I think blended will be the way to go. I saw a report yesterday on Twitter about how Nationwide Building Society had said that they are going to allow the majority of their 13,000 office workers to continue working from home as and when they want.

"Clearly there’s an appetite amongst workers for this type of blended approach." As I said, there’s definitely importance and value in that face-to-face time and collaboration, actually being able to read body language and social cues. But at the same time, having that flexibility to give people more choice, more control. And we know that those are really important factors in terms of mental health and mental well-being. It gives people back more free time, so in terms of liveability and actually just managing your daily life, it takes an element of the stress away from that. You get more time to do your laundry or go to the dentist, things like that which previously might have been sources of increased stress. MM: In regard to communication and technology changes, how do you think we could incorporate that into our architectural design? Could there be certain additions or

changes in homes? Do you have any ideas on that or things that could possibly make that blended living easier? BC: Well, we’ve actually just been shortlisted for the Davidson prize with Cousins and Cousins Architects, for a design that we’ve come up with called Omni. It’s effectively like a kind of desk system that’s built into the ceiling so it can kind of retract at night and it can descend in the daytime. So, that it’s all about creating that break, obviously with lots of people living at home, and working at home, you don’t actually get that psychological break between your workspace and your relaxation space. So, what we wanted to do was to create a system which would allow people to work in a generous, well designed space during the day, which is adjustable and ergonomic, but then in the evening you can fully retracted it into the ceiling, and it feels like a completely different type of space. And even that psychological element of feeling like two different types of space can have a big impact on people. I hope will we see a change in terms of housing design standards to be slightly more generous, maybe an extra 10% space that can be turned into some sort of adaptable workspace, in all homes. Whether it’s these kinds of desks that fold down or up, or things like that, but there is definitely a need for homes to do more for us at the moment. I think we’ve all realised over the last 12 months that our homes aren’t very well suited for this purpose right now. MM: Do you think that that might also be slightly detrimental, to have this workspace, because then you’re maybe encouraging bringing work home?

"There is definitely a need for homes to do more for us at the moment"

Ben Channon


BC: I think that’s part of the reason that we wanted to have a space that could almost completely disappear in the evening. So that you make a conscious decision at 5:30 or 6:00 o’clock, to say OK my workday is over, and then your workspace disappears. Which makes it physically quite challenging for you to then carry on doing that work. Because one of the biggest problems that we’ve seen, across a whole range of industries in the last year, is people struggling to switch off in the evenings. People thinking, well I may as well, you know, I can’t go out, I can’t go anywhere so I may as well just keep on working. And when the laptops just sat there it’s really easy to just carry on doing it. MM: We think the Omni desk sounds like the ideal use of technology to combat this issue, it’s great to hear that there’s already change coming about from the pandemic. What other types of things have you done and what ways have you used technology to increase that positive relationship with space?

If you could answer that door remotely via your phone, it completely transforms your quality of life, so there’s definitely lots of different ways in which technology can really benefit us, especially in our homes. MM: Yeah, there’s definitely a rise in home technology and it’s great to see people like yourself then connect that to a well-being standpoint as well. So you are part of the well-being a team at Ekkist, but just as an architect, how do you feel about the idea of responsibility? Obviously, you’ve got into the side of designing for people and made it kind of your own responsibility to make sure that these spaces are designed well, but do you feel like that’s quite heavy sense of responsibility? And has the pandemic affected this? BC: At times I felt frustrated I would say, at the fact that particularly a lot of more traditional residential developers would often have budget as the top priority. I think unfortunately, it’s something we see throughout a lot of architectural projects, budget seeming to be the most dominant force. And obviously for me, my motivation, my priority is making sure that we design great quality schemes that enhance the lives of the people that are using them. And so, when design decisions are being made based off of spreadsheets rather than off of the outcomes for the people using that building, that is frustrating. But the pandemic has affected this too, it’s made developers and funders and consumers, all three, really more aware of the role of the built environment in human health. So, that is again a positive that we’ve seen from it. We’re seeing a move away from budget, and seeing more and more people approach us saying, we’ve realised the human health is absolutely vital in our projects and it’s something that we actually want to spend a little bit of extra money on. Actually, when you look at the cost, it’s often not a huge amount, it might be less than 1% of an increase to building costs, to create a healthier building. For people on larger schemes where you can do things at economies of scale, it’s about coming in and getting the design right at an early stage, rather than bringing in lots of expensive gadgets and add ons. So, we are definitely seeing a

"[these technologies] can be harnessed to make people feel better and more empowered in a space."

BC: Right now, I’m in the process of writing a second book and that’s one of the things I’m looking at. Like smart control systems for homes, it gives us the ability to make things more adaptable, giving us more control. Which we already know has a really strong link with mental well-being. When you take control away from people, when you remove their autonomy, as a rule it kind of negatively impacts how people feel. So, all of these technologies that empower people, if designed in the right way of course, can be harnessed to make people feel better and more empowered in a space. There’s a lot of people out there who are kind of resistant to technology or argue that it may be a bad thing. But I’d always say that it’s not necessarily the technology itself that is a bad thing or a good thing, it’s about how we use it. Other important points there are is that it’s a really useful tool in terms of accessibility and improving quality of life for people with all kinds of needs. Like for someone who, say, going to answer the door actually can be quite a challenge for, because they might be a wheelchair user who would have to move into their wheelchair first to get to that door, by which time the person would have left.


Technological Advancements

shift towards more people understanding the importance of this. But yeah, for me I’ve been obviously shouting about it for some time now and it’s really actually reassuring to see more people coming on board with it! MM: We think a lot of people, especially students, do keep the well-being side in mind and realise that even though it’s maybe not taught to us directly, that it’s a hugely important factor in the design. BC: Yeah absolutely! I’ve been doing a bit of cheering and lecturing at Cardiff and Edinburgh as well and it seems to be that students are definitely engaging with this a lot more than they were, even when I was at university 10 years ago, so it does seem to be moving in the right direction, which is great! MM: Do you think there are opportunities to design better spaces not just in our homes, but in offices or even outdoor spaces as well? Do you think that that we could use this as an opportunity to make them better for our wellbeing too? BC: There is a lot more appreciation of the value of outdoor space, and I think within housing it’s something that’s going to happen a lot more, as we’re going to be asked as architects and designers to provide more outdoor space, and better-quality outdoor space. And in office spaces too, we’re now seeing office buildings come through where they’re trying to provide an outdoor space on every single floor of the office. So, that’s interesting and presents the same values. I definitely think that, as I said, people’s attitudes have changed as a result of this pandemic, and I hope we don’t get lots of long-term changes in the sense of the immediate knee jerk reactions to COVID, like all of the plastic screens and that kind of stuff. I don’t want to go back to an office that’s got plastic screens everywhere and smells like antibacterial spray all the time! You know, we need that sense of normality back at some point, and I think actually it’s more about better design, better ventilation, and things like that rather than these kind temporary measures. MM: Ventilation, light, and things like that are part of the fundamentals you mention in your book. Are there ways that you currently use specific

technologies to utilise these fundamentals? BC: So, a large part of what we do is based around WELL certification. We use technology to achieve a lot of that, and certainly in terms of the way we manage and operated buildings now, we’re finding technology more and more helpful in that. Often, we will work with commercial office spaces, or even a residential scheme, to create maybe an app or a website for the building, and that will have lots of helpful resources on it for residents or occupants. So, it might have educational materials available on say, healthy cooking or mental health, or different forms of exercise, things like that. Or it might be linked to things like headspace online resources too. Certainly, we are seeing more and more people bringing technology in that regard. But as well, just when we were talking about the building fabric, I think that it’s really important to touch on that. Like getting glazing that allows more daylight through and reducing the amount of heat overloading we get. We’re seeing ventilation systems become more and more advanced and something that’s been talked about a lot in the last year, whether it’s HEPA filters and UV filters, and all that kind of stuff. Or similarly, water filtration technology is also getting better and cheaper, year on year. Which is really important, so we’re getting better quality water in a lot of our buildings now, and also lighting. We’re seeing Circadian lighting come through in a big way, which is really interesting. So, a very quick summary of Circadian lighting effectively it mimics the temperature of the sun’s light throughout the day, so it’s quite cool first thing in the morning and gradually gets warmer again throughout the day. And more endemic towards the evening, which effectively stops somebody’s circadian rhythms. It stops them getting tricked into thinking it’s morning light in the evening and therefore staying awake at night. Now those systems even a couple of years ago were really, really expensive. They’re still one of the more expensive WELL features, but every year we’re seeing the cost of these come down. Much like when DVD players first came out, it was like 5 or £600 for a DVD player and now you can get one for £30. It’s the same with all technologies,

Ben Channon


"In the last year especially, we’ve learnt that we should all be trying to look after ourselves" and hopefully with these advanced lighting systems too, they will become much more affordable. MM: Do you believe that at some point everybody will be designing for well-being, or do you think there will always be those developers just after the money side of things? BC: Everyone’s doing this because it’s a business, right? So, everyone’s out there to make money in some way, and that’s not in itself a bad thing. Being in property to make money is not a bad thing but I just think it’s about getting a balance. If you can make money and do it ethically then of course that’s the best approach. The good news is that all the research is showing that designing healthier buildings is commanding higher price premiums. I just put a tweet out this morning actually, about a study in Manhattan where when buildings get higher levels of what they call ‘spatial daylight autonomy’- effectively when they get more daylight - they command price premiums of about a 5 to 6% increase. So, we know this added value of creating healthier buildings now, and what we’re seeing is our clients, developers and funders all begin to realise this. That there’s added brand value, so it obviously makes them look good too. The issue we’re having at the moment though is that say you start pursuing WELL certification now, on a project that’s just come into the office, and you haven’t really started work on the design yet. Realistically, by the time it’s designed and built it’s probably going to be another four or five years. So, there is a big lead in time. You can’t get well certification until its occupied, so there is quite a long lag time between kind of starting that process and finishing it. Having that intent to create a healthier place doesn’t actually see results for


a while. But, having said that, the first wave of WELL projects is now coming through in the UK. Which means when they do start to become more well publicised and a bit more commonplace, I think a lot of developers are suddenly going to think, we need to get on this pretty quickly! There’s going to be a fear of being left behind and concern over future stock. We very much see it as almost future proofing. I do think probably within the next decade it would be much like sustainability. Sustainability now is almost not really a differentiator, because every building must be sustainable to a certain degree, and I hope that we will get to the same point with healthy buildings too. MM: It would be great to see every building meeting WELL standards just as they have to meet environmental standards. Following on from that, with COVID and technology both rising, both keeping us in our houses, there’s been a lack of human contact, obviously affecting mental health. Do you think that it should be on us as individuals to take more responsibility? To consider the psychological importance of these well design spaces more? And how would the individual do this?

"Sustainability now is almost not really a differentiator, because every building must be sustainable to a certain degree" BC: Responsibility to take care of our physical and mental health is certainly something even the Prime Minister is talking about. And in the last year especially, we’ve learnt that we should all be trying to look after ourselves so that we have the best chance to be covered. For example, to try and stay fit if we can, and eat the right things, and I think that’s quite an accepted thing in society now. As we talk more about the parallels between physical health and mental health, there is certain kind of line of thought coming through, to do our best to take care of our mental health too. So, that means everything from not drinking every single day, to not overworking ourselves, and maintaining that healthy work life balance. Absolutely if there’s things we can do, as people are starting to understand now, even in our homes, to better support our happiness and mental health then we should be doing them.

Technological Advancements

mental health then we should be doing them. That’s kind of one of the reasons I wrote my book, not just to help architects, designers, and developers, but I wanted to make it accessible to the general public. So that hopefully they could get some useful design tips for themselves. And it might just be something as simple as, you know, moving your desk so it’s in front of a window, or going out and spending £20 on house plants. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it’s small things that we can all do, that we know have psychological impact. MM: Especially because of the pandemic, so many people, including ourselves, have realised that it’s so important to look after your own mental health. And that being inside for so long doesn’t help. Hopefully a lot more people in the industry are realising that they need to design better for people, but do you think that there could even be like a government or an RIBA standpoint? That they could get involved and make certain elements necessary to design better spaces? BC: Once they clock onto the benefits that healthy buildings can have, I think they’re going to struggle not to intervene! Because, if we take mental health, just as one example, we know that mental health costs the cost the country - in terms of both healthcare and cost to the economy and businesses - around £105 billion a year. So certainly if that’s something we can address through buildings, then why not? Similarly, I think there’s been a realisation in the last few years that we can spend money fixing people’s health problems, physical health problems, or we can actually spend the money at source, and try to address physical health problems before they become an issue. Like trying to get people more active, and to eat more healthily, or quit smoking, quit drinking, as some good examples. And if we can do that then the actual financial benefits for the country, as a whole, are enormous. There was a study I read about in Sheffield where they realised that for every one pound they spent on the maintenance of green spaces, they were saving £34 in costs to the council and local healthcare. So, by spending a small amount of money on the built environment, or making that either mandatory or encouraging it, within housing developments, office developments etcetera, we could have potentially huge

financial ramifications for the country too. MM: So just a small change can impact so much! That’s great to know. Thank you so much for giving those insights, I think we’ve definitely got a lot to take away. It’s a really interesting approach and you’ve got us thinking slightly differently, which is good! Thanks again! BC: No problem guys! It’s great to know young architects are becoming involved with the wellbeing side of thing and have a keen interest in it. Glad to be a part of the conversation and hope I could help!

"If [mental health] is something we can address through buildings, then why not!"

by Robyn Gibson

Ben Channon


Co-Pilot Stuart Dickson


Labour, Domesticity & Performance 86

Stage Leader Robert Mantho

Studio Tutors Colin Glover Nick Walker Sonia Browse Isobel Deakin

Stage 4 uses the city of Glasgow is the laboratory for our design research into the city and the appropriate architecture for the 21st century. The MSA’s extensive knowledge of Glasgow is used as the basis for exploring contemporary social, economic and cultural issues relevant to the discipline of architecture. In semester 1 Stage 4 focuses on Urban Housing, exploring the relationship between domesticity and labour, particularly as it relates to

the changes in urban life and consequently urban housing, neighbourhoods and the city. The semester is structured with 3 briefs, each requiring the consideration of specific scales, starting with scale of the individual living unit, moving to the macro scale of the masterplan, and finishing with the intermediate scale of the urban block, in the Barras Market area of the Calton district of Glasgow. These briefs were used to explicitly require students to identify an architectural position and to develop a thesis to be investigated across the 3 scales. Semester 2 for Stage 4 is centred on the exploration of a public building within the context of central Glasgow, carrying on the MSA’s tradition of the Urban Building. The students work on expanding the theme of semester 1, considering those aspects of civic life which are not directly tied to economic exchange, but which are critical to social coherence. The students work adjacent to the site of the semester 1 Urban Housing project in the Barras Market, relating their Urban Building design work to the investigations undertaken in semester 1. Semester 2 is designed to help students build on the skills and knowledge acquired in semester 1, to reinforce their ability to identify research topics and clarify their design thinking in articulated theses in preparation for Stage 5 and the task of the Final Design Thesis.

Stage 4



Description: Reinterpret a traditional civic forum into a new urban democratic civic typology using the casual and diverse environment of the Barras Market and the instant knowledge, opinion sharing and connectivity abilities of the online civic space. Typology that enables the public to be directly involved in the wider range of formal civic discourses ranging from politics and economics to environment and culture.

Inspired by the success of democracy festivals of Northern Europe a “Discussion market” with a series of expandable spaces on the ground floor provides a place either for talks and discussions that can be streamed online or for educational activities and booked for coworking. The main performance hall is designed for conferences and presentations, but can also act as a multifunctional space acting as a cultural node in the diverse network of event spaces in Glasgow.

All these spaces require an administrative support entity, that curates the events and manages these spaces. Therefore, the administration is supplemented with the Institute of Investigative Journalism and Discussion which helps supporting the curation of the events in the “Discussion Market” and the factuality of the information, as well as expands the institution’s agenda of critical thinking, objective opinions and research-based decisions to the wider public. Finally, a mediatheque collects and archives the discussions and plethora of other materials in different media regarding civil liability, politics, economics, history, science and international relations for any member of the public to use.

Stage 4


Opera Houses are white elephants amongst our cities; despite their minimal relevance to the populace at large, they are considered the ultimate prestige projects. They can be regenerative, a symbol of a city’s future, or, the expensive self-indulgence of star-chitects - “top-down” buildings that aren’t accepted by the people who live there. Millennial operas typically counter this exclusive reputation a ‘gesture’ of public space.


The “black box” auditorium is isolated at the heart of these buildings, severing the act of performance from public space. This project inverts the typical spatial hierarchy of an opera house – carving out the centre of the building (usually dedicated to the auditorium) and instead providing a skate park and informal performance area. A smaller opera auditorium is placed on the side, with a direct connection to the street which acts as a foyer.


The thesis focuses on a ‘food ecosystem’ that actively supports a more sustainable regional food network in the Calton district. The school promotes food and agricultural-based education programmes that bring attention to locally grown food, concepts of urban farming and sustainability within the context of an evolving urban district. The food school as a demonstration ground and a starting point, should allow visitors to rediscover the significance of agriculture and food biodiversity, and raises awareness to the need of adopting new consumption habits. Fostering the exchange of skills and knowledge to engage all members of the community in lifelong learning and civic involvement, the food school has potential to showcase a new lifestyle based on the intake and knowledge of nutritious diets and convenient neighbourhood access to fresh and healthy food for the residents of Calton, and subsequently spreading consciousness to the wider Glasgow.


What if an opera house had a skate park at its heart?

Joseph Elbourn - THE ANARCHO-CIVIC

My proposal aims to answer this question using a prototype of what is often regarded as ‘lowest’ of the ‘high’ cultures, namely the cinema. The closed box typology which would contribute very little urbanistically is swapped for a building that engages directly with its context by keeping existing buildings of value on the site, as well as allows for moments of openness and transparency - most notably in the envelope comprised of glass blocks, and in the main performance space that can open up to a square. The square makes up the heart of a new urban realm for the Barras, also allowing for the performance of the everyday, that extends to the top of the neighbouring BAAD centre. In this way the context is further revalued as a visitor will be able to spectate the whole of the Barras from a new vantage point.


What is culture in a low-income, urbanistically fraught neighbourhood such as the Barras?

In the anti-capitalist society established at the Barras, laws are developed through discussion and ratified through consensus adoption. By constantly engaging with both the technocratic and moral questions that arise in the commune, the citizenry implicitly shape the rules they use to live collectively like the speakers of a language. As their society grows so does their building, from a simple forum to a complex programme consisting of multiple performance spaces, meeting points and administration facilities. The plan represents the flat hierarchy of the commune. Functions overlap, blend and can be approached from any direction. The building is a lump of constantly growing masonry, anchoring the democratic heart of the commune and serving as a beacon of hope to wider Glasgow. As it peaks over the permeable barricade that divides the Free State from the Capitalist city it draws the dispossessed masses of an individualised world across its boundary into the realm of communal ownership of land and resources. The boarder is one of multiple concentric circles that draw people into the performance and discussion spaces, from where one is physically and intellectually lifted up into the spaces of collective joy that define the building and the commune.

Stage 4


Alexander Mallalieu - CONTEMPORARY LIBRARY

The building accommodates at capacity 360 children aged 4-12 with provisions for 14 classroom and 20+ Staff. After School Hours the multi-functional performance/ Sports/Eating Space will provide the Calton District with a much-needed community hall. The kitchen includes for School Staff 7am-2pm and for organised public access 3pm-10pm weekdays and through the weekend. Considering Life Cycle Analysis and limitations of building material from an earlier stage. Hemp will be used as a building material hempcrete is used for walls and floors and hemp fibre insulation in floors and roof. As this materialacts as a carbon sink and has high thermal insulation and thermal mass properties.


This thesis responds to the digitisation of three pillars of contemporary society: Labour, Civic Space and Knowledge, with the aim of the project to provide the Barras marketplace with a civic gathering space whilst promoting Glasgow’s knowledge economy through a hybridised programme of an open auditorium and a contemporary library. The Barras Marketplace stands as the antithesis of the contemporary digital-age and can act as a catalyst for a measured response to digitisation, which promotes knowledge and not capitalist gain. The internet, at the hands of unregulated media conglomerates, has negated the need for a library full of books whilst simultaneously, through Surveillance Capitalism’s economic models, stolen our ability to concentrate on said books by making us addicted to notifications and hyper-connection. This project creates a subterranean space away from advertising and push-notification that we can reground ourselves and find a place for concentration and contemplation, as well as peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.


Over recent decades sufficient closers of Calton public buildings have taken place, most notable by the families in the area, the now lack of a primary school. Taking into consideration Calton’s current demographic and the City Council’s desire to encourage young professionals and families to live and work in the city centre, providing a primary school on this site could help the community to reestablish their identity in the Barras.

The Barras is in a state of purgatory as it fails to keep up the needs of the modern Glasgow City-goers.


Creating a scheme that addresses the loneliness amongst the elderly living in single units and the increasing need for dynamic housing spaces, allows for multigenerational benefit. WIth the increasing diversity in the Calton district, especially those of non-western ethnicities, a proposal of an intergenerational community is something that would be welcome. By looking at the collectivistic society in Asia and Africa, this project’s housing and living is based around the family, and the family’s greater needs


Contemporary housing is struggling to meet the diverse needs of existing and future generations.

As we are conscientiously readdressing our relationship with nature and Scotland aims to be a global leader on tackling climate change, activism within the community will be supported through the Climate Action Centre. The institution provides climate concerned bodies with a public face, blending research into public life. The community will be ralliedinto action through the public wing where a debate chamber encourages democracy through its circular seating arrangement.Interactive workshops further engage the public with research, spilling out to the centre’s ‘internal street’ where impromptuencounters are facilitated. Laboratories in the research wing will investigate initiatives to tackle the climate crisis and monitor climate change in Glasgow. Research is supported by the growing of plants in vertical nurseries. These plants will be distributed to help clean Glasgow’s brownfield sites, assisting in Scotland’s ‘green recovery’. Natural materials are used where possible to reduce embodied carbon in the building.

Stage 4


The proposal for a youth quarter is located in Calton, Glasgow. It is an area which especially suffers from high child poverty and lack of safe spaces for children. The proposal provides play opportunities through-out the public realm and the public building, a youth center, offers supervised environment for socially engaged spare time and informal learning.

Donald Morrison - BARRAS HALLE

The building is structurally divided in two parts: log structure and gluelaminated timber structure. Prefabricated timber logs are stacked and joined together to form a load bearing wall structure. The secondary structure consists of CLT floor plates and glulam pillars. Both structural elements stiffen the log walls.


A conceptual community centre based in the East End of Glasgow that aspires to place residents at the heart of its design. The theory dissects the production and performance elements of theatre and attempts to make every step of the process accessible to all. Facilities for woodwork, sewing, cooking, arts, crafts, rehearsal, and computer development collaborate through the various studios and combine in a spacious central hall, inspired by the popular Victorian galleries found throughout Scotland. The materials were carefully selected to acknowledge the surrounding vernacular and ever-developing climate crisis. An entirely timber structure of Glulam frames and CLT floor slabs connect with a solid screen of recycled bricks in the wings, supplied by the site’s previous occupants. Contrasted by translucent recycled polycarbonates to allow light, sound, and movement to permeate out onto the street, inviting any passers-by. At night, this lively hall becomes shrouded by acoustically baffling curtains to protect the adjacent residents.


Over 34% of children in Glasgow were estimated to be living in poverty (2017). Loneliness and low selfesteem are growing issues within children and young adults. 23 % of young adults (16-25yrs) said that they often or always feel lonely (Glasgow, 2020). Poor physical or mental health causes child to suffer and has life-long consequences.

In an increasingly cellular society, with domestic and productive life progressively merging, there is a greater emphasis needed on communal spaces.The thesis centres around the notion of shared culture and considers the changing demographics within the Calton and Bridgeton area. Taking the idea of food being an act of solidarity as well as the social and educational themes of cultural buildings and expand that into a hybrid civic building with a multifaceted programme by incorporating different elements of culture.


Through a partly contemplative and partly expressive experience with a layering of thresholds the architecture of The Barras Cross Cultural Exchange aims to provide people with the opportunity for reflection and connection as a collective experience through a shared understanding of cultures.


“Food can be an act of solidarity. It can be used to explore the social relationships and the places where we live...” Rumpus Room article, December 2020

The Barralands Kilt delivers cultural diversity through an alchemy of spaces and social inclusion via performance. Cultural centre fundamental to the rhythm of movement borrows from and embeds Scottish culture and traditions to create a building where movement is both part of the form and purpose. Inclusivity is the guiding principle of the modern Scottish meritocracy, public are encouraged to reassess their relationship with their social identity through the medium of performance. By entering this space patrons are categorised through their activities and all movement can become a socially inclusive performance. This visual experiment of performance displays that minimum and maximum movements are visible in the spent space of a performer, while their horizontal and vertical absent space draws the viewer into the action. The fundamental rhythms of movement intrinsically fabricate a building central to an expression of modern Calton, while retaining the elemental performance space of The Barras Market.

Stage 4



The leisure society is a predicted future society that will allow individuals to work less and have more free time than today. The concept of leisure is defined as an act of enjoyment done outside the framework of capitalist production and consumption. It is realised by focusing on collective gestures and the rhythms of the body. Bathing is the ultimate leisure activity - immersive experience that allows total liberation from productivity. By incorporating the philosophy of bathing rituals into the local infrastructure, this project aim is to generate societal and cultural value while reducing the destitution and inequalities in the area. The new conception of the public bath house can initiate new social dynamics, new social opportunities, new public behaviours and improve the lifestyle of the Carlton community.


This project seeks to provide Calton with a productive and cultural facility. The project is a response to the current economic climate in the area, with deprivation and unemployment levels high. The Scottish government has several tax and funding incentives to promote film production in Scotland. In this way, the building seeks to give back to the community through employment opportunities whilst also boosting the local and national economy. The cinema is a much loved past time that has been lost in recent years due to the rising popularity of online streaming. It’s affordability provided an escape from reality for everyone and an ac­cessible place to come and enjoy a piece of art, or dive into a world of fictional possibilities. The building aims to celebrate the nations love of going to the cinema whilst also promoting the art of film making itself. The translucent facade allows a glimpse into the inner workings of film production for passers-by and in this way, showcases the art of film making with the same importance and pride as the film itself.


Just as a goal of the building of a city should be the production of urban life, the ideal of good architecture should be the opportunities it offers to a happier development of the body and its craving for pleasure and joy. Henri Lefevbre


My proposal returns to the ancient overlapping of domesticity and labour to create a connected world full of activities where accidental encounters and collaborations can occur. The collective room acts as the main spatial tool for the congestion of human interaction and the architectural form is employed to create feelings of life and activity. With this I hope people might attain an intimacy with fellow humans in a social and open way of living.


The project is a residential complex in the Barras Market, Glasgow, drawing on a thesis of the relation between domesticity and labour. The project reacts against the rise of spaces during modernisation which were either too specific or too generic, causing single use or vacuums of space with no intensity of life. This system separated life and work to a frictionless world where architecture was employed to segregate activities and human relationships, limiting everyday life.

Storytelling is something innate to the human experience. It is an art form that generates discussion and addresses ever changing demands from the population. Historically performance spaces operated as venues for social interaction of primarily upper class individuals. This project aims to breakdown this elitist barrier to performance arts, creating an inclusive shared environment that dismantles the aristocratic stigma and existing theatrical perception. This is addressed through the permeability of materials attempting to inform an approachable and visible place in the district of Calton and through the strategy of the courtyard, which allows the public to both actively and passively engage in the process of theatre. The intervention aims to reveal previously hidden aspects of theatre by placing textual analysis, rehearsal, workshops and acting studios at the forefront of an emotive journey through the building that culminates in a final performance. It is the aim to encourage the ascension of the socially and geographically marginalised area of the Barra’s to become a cultural landmark fully incorporated into the urban landscape of Glasgow.

Stage 4



Across the world and history there are various different typologies of the bath house and they often appealed to one religion, culture, gender or social class: they were used as a means of segregation. Glasgow has a rich history of Bath house culture where public baths were once seen as a place of community interaction and socialisation. One of the first 19th century baths in Glasgow was located on London road which sparked a surge in new public baths across the city centre. Overtime as it became common practice for every home to have its own bathroom and toilet the need for bath houses became less and less and many of them closed . My project attempts to create an inclusive culturalexchange hub that is welcoming to encourage people from different religious, cultural, social and generational backgrounds toreinstate thebathhouse culture thatonce existed in Glasgow. Thecultural exchange hub consists of the bath house with a main central pool space, that will accommodate 250-300 people and a learning centre equipped with reading rooms and collaboration space.

Imraan Smith - LIVING LOCAL

In today’s world, the demand for home working has increased as the traditional cultural values of traveling to a workplace has been heavily reduced. The idea of an environment where people can work from homehasbeen laid to support many businesses and independent workersduring a pandemic. In addition, anoverall lack in resource can affect how a communities operate. My design focuses on family and couple apartments that take the scenario of a lockdown into consideration, having access to essential resource in order to provide for the regeneration of a deprived area. The’20minuteneighbourhood ’concept is a key consideration in my proposal. Having areas likeprivate workspaces(Accessed from both outside and inside the homes), Garden/terrace spaces, areas of resource(Food, education), Communal/social zones, elements where people can exercise physicalhealth, contribute to the requirements of the20 minute neighbourhood (with accessibility of employment opportunities, and access to public transport) which are highly beneficial for the influence of a lockdown.


An explicit articulation of programme is achieved via shallow floor plans and fragmented massing, thus allowing a visual permeability and legibility throughout. Intimate spaces allow the user to form close personal relationships with the spaces, in turn affording the building an intimacy with the community in which it serves.


A centre for music within the Calton District. Responding to the existing context, it aims to form part of a creative campus, drawing upon existing cultural landmarks often overlooked for their transformative potential to target social deprivation. By providing a visible, accessible and approachable place for learning, coupled with the provision of free music lessons for young people, the architectural and pedagogical traditions which have long permeated classical music venues and institutions are reframed. Defined tectonic relationships and material gestures form an assemblage of spaces for the user to inhabit. Moving away from the large object building and civic institution, instead there is both a symbolic and physical disassembly of the institution.

Critique of contemporary art gallery space known as the white cube gallery. Kritike Tekhne in greek means critical philosophy or art of judgment or critique of the art. White Cube Gallery concept is a 20th-century minimalists idea and principle of early modernism. In light of the development of many new art forms in the 21st century, those have drastically progressed from traditional painting and sculpture, and new experience-orientated artworks, events are proposed. Current exhibition spaces are not fit for this purpose, and perception of the art by the general public has changed, rendering these spaces inadequate for public engagement with the new art. The proposal aims to appeal to the general public instead of art enthusiasts, collectors, or educators and provide space for new forms of art. Contemporary art for modern society has evolved by introducing entirely new forms of art that extend beyond the creation of artifacts.

Stage 4


The Barras is not what it used to be with an air of neglect prevading the streets. Noticing a lack of libraries in the area, the aim is to give a cultural public library to the city, that opens up to it and creates a living room for Glasgow for civic engagement.

Helena Wagg - THE HEARTH

What is the library of the future? A modern library is no longer solely the domain of the book, it is about connecting people with knowledge. A place for young and old to learn, gather, perform, test, create and present. A laboratory where visitors are challenged and gain access to new technologies. An interior atrium garden forms the main space of the building acting as a discussion pit for interaction and contributing to the well-being in work space.


In our post-industrial society we are beginning to see an inclination towards artisanal production and independent business, rather than mass production; we have returned to a cottage industry style system, with people making and selling from their homes. Labour and domesticity are now as intertwined as they were before the industrial era, if not more, due to technological advances that have made it possible for the majority of jobs to be executed from anywhere. I have extended these ideas to create a “post-urban” state where activities that historically occurred on the site, such as weaving, pottery, and agriculture, can return, and independent businesses can thrive, creating a localised community with social amenities. Spaces are based around a central hearth that supports both domestic and labour activities on the site. Both living and working occur in separate locations on the site, with spaces of overlap allowing them to naturally intertwine.

Ioulia Voulgari - PUBLIC LIBRARY

The space of culture has always dealt with evolving preferences and technologies. With globalisation and digitalisation being the major dynamics of today, just one building use is not enough.


William White-Howe - SALUTOGENESIS

This project aims to tackle the subject of poor public health using a ‘salutogenic’ approach. This is a medical approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease. Creating a public building that acts as the precursor to a hospital by allowing people to prevent and treat ill health themselves. The proposal speculates on measures that could help reduce strain on NHS resources. This is a typology of a publicly funded building that currently does not exist within the UK and thus precedents are difficult to find. As such, the project theorises the type and conditions a building of this type could achieve. Through the creation of nodes targeting 4 main subcategories of wellness; Mental, Physical, Holistic and Social wellness the proposal creates intermediary access to healthcare, reducing stigma and promoting positive selfdevelopment.

Glasgow once had a reputation for growing seasonal fresh produce. There were at least six productive market gardens in Grahamston, and many breweries, granaries, bakeries and orchards. I have designed a primary school which aims to teach kids about the environment through a climate curriculum which involves learning plant cultivation to produce food and medicine as a skill towards a sustainable future. From a legacy perspective, the climate school is part of a vision reimagining Calton as a self-sufficient circular economy repurposing vacant and derelict sites for urban farming.

Stage 4



Situated in the heart of the Barras, this hybrid civic building will operate different functions on different levels. With the aim to combine performance and sport together to create a health and well-being centre that integrates users from all levels of society. The clear deprivation within the East End of Glasgow can be combated by an active and inviting external ground level program with sheltered commercial activity, external skateboarding and an allweather football pitch... a stopping place. Inside the building from first floor level and above are an array of sporting activities and a multiuse performance space. All of these spaces are connected by a central spiral of staircases within a large atrium, providing 360 degree views all around the internal core of the building. The sloping roof-scape of the building is home to a dry ski-slope, catering to those with all levels of experience. The holistic vision for this civic proposal is to create a space where your background or economic status isn’t relative to how you experience and use the building.


The civic centre as a concept is more out of reach in our current crisis than it has been in liveable memory. Even so, it’s not an idea that will disappear for long and places like The Barras in Glasgow will always need these key spaces that provide and incite interactions between people from all backgrounds. This aspect, along with the reduced need to design for vehicles and instead providing better facilities and support for people themselves, is a key impact that can be taken from the current crisis into the future. This proposal will provide charitable facilities for education and creative learning for the surrounding community of Calton while also facilitating performance and exhibition needs for both learning and visiting artists – creating a new way of community learning and encouraging new skills at all ages. It will particularly focus on working with people suffering from mental health issues and providing opportunity for those suffering from poverty. It looks to foster a healthy, nurturing learning environment that is open to all and provides for those who may not otherwise have access to certain facilities.

Biaotong Geng - BARRAS THEATRE

Firstly, from P3 Urban house’s design, I found that in the future domestic and labour areas will not be divided anymore in citizens’ homes and houses will become more modular. Citizens might live in the same modular homes in the future, these similar residences just like the repetitive seats in an auditorium. This situation will exarcebate the alienation between citizens, especially in the post-information age. In this way, this urban building should act as a stage, which should not only stimulate citizen’s communication, but also to integrate various places with various functions, just like the different shows on one stage.

Robert Forsyth - COMPACT LIVING

In the 21st Century can privacy exist in a room with a camera, a microphone or a laptop? The digitalisation of the economy has led to the replacement of traditional labour with machines in factories, self-checkouts and online shopping. The whole basis of the economy is shifting, exemplified with data as the new oil. We now all have a primary productive role of producing data to be mined by Big Tech companies to sell commodities, alter behaviour and change the outcome of elections (thus Cambridge Analytica). Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale, said “Practice Corporeal Politics, power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen. Get outside, put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. Make new friends and march with them.” This compact apartment aims to be honest about the new reality, minimise the units of consumption and provoke socialised protest.


The project concludes in the necesity of implementing a public building that guarantees access to health care services in the most vulnerable neighborhoods. Therefore, this experimental building typology sets a statement for application in other vulnerable neighborhoods or cities.


As a clarification, this proyect should not be understood as medical center; It is a space for preventing mental diseases. This typological development seeks to gradually remove stress and anxiety of Glasgow’s citizens through education, communication and relaxation programs. This project draws two lines of enquiry and sets two key questions: first, what determines the identity of a place and second, how can the concept of “reuse” be implemented architecturally in the context of western capitalism? The Barras market in Glasgow is the ultimate juxtaposition of objects and materials. The notion of bricolage is manifested in the proposal in an attempt to promote community engagement, to establish a sense of public belonging and usage, and to celebrate the Barras’ creative history. By looking at collaborative processes of production that can promote collective domesticity in the city, and based on the utopian writings of William Morris on a Factory As It Might Be, this project points on the creation of a productive civic building that celebrates craftsmanship and promotes a circular economy. An economy that is generated not on the actual final product but on the process of its creation and transformation. The proposal takes shape in a form of a small urban factory creating a place where the experience of materials, tools, objects is at a central point, a place where making, learning, shopping create a new type of urban space that challenges the trends of contemporary consumption.


The philosophical term ”Hedonism” is taken as an ethical position to develop this project, establishing the pursuit of pleasure and wellbeing as the main goal. Following this positioning, a comparison is made on the correlation between socioeconomic factors and mental health in East End and how it differs to other areas of Glasgow, resulting in a hypothesis of an existing relation between income, ”uses of well-being” and wellness. This reality negatively affects most deprived quartiles.

Sebastian Achinioti Jönsson - THE POETRY FACTORY

Cooking in the City

The House of Belief therefore comes to life as an amalgamation of civic programmes, providing the Barras with a civic hub that actively engages the forgotten east end of Glasgow with the wider city agenda. It provides the framework for civic activities to take place, detached from the outdated typologies they are often associated with. In turn, it also aims to demystify civic activities, allowing for chance encounters amongst individuals attending the building for very distinct purposes. It speculates on creating greater visibility of civic traditions, and the potential development of these in modern times.


Throughout the course of time, the success of the collective has greatly depended on belief in four particular factors; politics, culture, knowledge and religion. In turn, typologies were developed to promote and represent these accordingly; town halls, museums, libraries and churches are just some examples. The problem is that these typologies were designed for a social consensus which is increasingly difficult to achieve in the age of information overload.

The Poetry Factory aims to allow poetic expression and freedom in oral expression, where the audience becomes the performer and the performer becomes audience and people are inspired to share and create – a building which is as much a mediator for culture coming into the area, as a mediator for the community in which it lies. With this project the people of Calton can create new oral expressions and/or preserve faded words like ‘Tongs Ya Bass’ as their heritage. The project also has the possibility to support other oral cultures and minorities such as Gaelic speaking Glaswegians. I have worked with the sapphic stanza as an organiser, both structurally and programmatically which is visible in the pillars surrounding the building as well as in the organisation, written in an organisational poem.



The design; a 'national resturant' looks to interweve the permanent and temporary through changing methods of construction. Intending to create a performance space that can transition with the ever changing needs of the Barras, from rooftop garden to market shelter to outdoor theater to public square. Secondary market structures have been designed with an impermanence to their life cycle. The materiality of these intends to reflect that temporal nature in using sustainable and degradable materials such as CLT panels and flexible wood fiber insulation board. The market stalls use readily available standard size timber, inviting the stall owners to adapt and expand upon their stalls. The intension is to give agency to the community over the use of the building opting for a non paternalistic architecture. A grounding connection through a soil tube hidden within the primary structure allows a mycelium network to reach the roof garden and the trees to communicate with their natural surrounding is important for healthy plant-life on the roof and for nutritious herbs and veg to be grown. The structure looks to emulate the buildings original intension ‘performing the importance of health through the connection to nature’.


The civic centre as a concept is more out of reach in our current crisis than it has been in liveable memory. Even so, it’s not an idea that will disappear for long and places like The Barras in Glasgow will always need these key spaces that provide and incite interactions between people from all backgrounds. This aspect, along with the reduced need to design for vehicles and instead providing better facilities and support for people themselves, is a key impact that can be taken from the current crisis into the future. This proposal will provide charitable facilities for education and creative learning for the surrounding community of Calton while also facilitating performance and exhibition needs for both learning and visiting artists – creating a new way of community learning and encouraging new skills at all ages. It will particularly focus on working with people suffering from mental health issues and providing opportunity for those suffering from poverty. It looks to foster a healthy, nurturing learning environment that is open to all and provides for those who may not otherwise have access to certain facilities.

Mathew Smith

People Need Glassgow - Mathew Smith



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4. Questioning the God complex

To Re-politicize Architecture


In our current state of precarity we have brought the coffee-house discussions into our own living rooms and the whole world get to know our ideas from the seat of our sofas, being transmitted through social media channels like never before. The notion of being “woke” in issues that transcend class, race and physical borders is now a demand within our generation. Yet the architectural discussion is lagging behind. It is still produced in an upperclass academic setting, as it has for decades, completely detached from the real-life capitalist wheel of architectural production. The architectural theorists keep inventing new words and definitions that they themselves struggle to comprehend and rarely advertise to the public, while capitalism and economic growth still, is the one thing that is accelerating gentrification, supporting structural racism, the housing crisis along with the climate emergency behind a pretty facade. Photo: Sofi Håkansson, 2019, Seoul Demonstrations

Spatial agency; the political power and control over space is frequently discussed among us architects, on how we can empower marginalized communities through the planning and production of our urban environments yet, is it our “power” to give? In this chapter we will look at the “God complex” of the architect as a Creator producing spaces for “others” and alternative ways of both practicing and producing architecture from a political and ethical standpoint as to take responsibility and invest in our future by taking political action, NOW

To Re-politicize Architecture


Alejandro Haiek Coll on Other ways of

Working Across Time & Space

Project: Eko Industrial Park. Barquisimeto - Photo by Irina Urriola

Find Alejandro on: thepublicmachinery


Alejandro Haiek Coll is currently a Lecturer running his own MA Studio at the Umeå University of Architecture (UMA) in Sweden, he is an Architect working at Lab.Pro.Fab and runs The Public Machinery, an Artist and Erasmus Scholarship professor. He conducts research into the field of collective landscapes and postindustrial ecologies in a space that intersects a humanistic approach, scientific advancements, local knowledge as well as art and design.

Alejandro Haiek Coll


The MacMag had the pleasure to learn about Alejandro Haiek Coll’s ideas of ‘practice’ as an architect designing with people over the span of generations, as an alternative to the fast-paced production driven architectural practice we see today. The interview turned out to be as much about Haiek Coll´s political and philosophical standpoint being an architect, as his practice in more practical terms, working together as a local or global collective. We start off by going back in time, to look for how Haiek Coll has been able to arrive to his position as an apprentice of local technologies, strategist, and activist as he starts off talking about some of his most early work taking part of residencies. Alejandro Haiek Coll: I realized that to operate internationally as a non-corporational practice lead by forms of planetary diplomacy the practice would have to emerge from constellations of coalitions and co-creation. I found that there were other ways to perform in political, experimental, art installations as a way to approach a more critical architectural discourse, sometimes even more relevant than building. Art residencies were one medium that opened up possibilities to produce public art interventions. Through public art residencies you are able to operate beyond the legal framework, sometimes avoiding construction permits, political burocracy and the whole complexity of the construction industry. The architecture we produced became devices of public engagement and programmed actions that improved on social interactions and created networks that could operate all over the city without an institutional building. This intermediate process allows us to intervene in the everyday activities of the community. And so, the architecture becomes a support and at one point, a platform that feature ambition. The scale of assembly are the backbones for a still, invisible body. So, there are conscious and mindful actions that anticipate the building process. A piece of this fast-assembly architecture is transforming dynamics automatically and produces new policies. Then the buildings emerge from a transitional process.

Architecture is alive. Building starts with actions, not necessarily with a foundation. Through these ‘living works’ produced in the context of art residencies the performance as an architect unfold in a chronological line of events, collectively experienced, organic and collaborative. The automatic public devices hold and performs along with nature, where other species and entirely new ecosystems becomes interconnected, introducing other dimensions. These fast-deployable pieces architecture, they also give rise to slow social and environmental mechanisms and introduce the dimension of time into the process. The idea of ‘living works’ are projects that Haiek Coll continue to follow up on, year by year, continuing to develop over the decades in close contact and collaboration with the local communities of which the projects are situated in. He explains that his office try to find opportunities joining up to the urban fight that already exist, positioning themselves as common citizens, contributing horizontally in democratic ways to deploy their discipline in an alternative fashion than by the forces of the market. AHC: So, one of our longest projects or living collective experiment is the ‘Interstitial Park’ in Caracas that is 15 years old by now. It was an abandoned parking lot of 7000 square meters situated in-between a highway, the city, a military fort and a favela. The first actions were focusing on cultural occupation that claimed the right to the city and the access to creative practice and artistic disciplines. The city art circuits were very much controlled by formal institutions, not able to gather the entire ecosystem of urban cultural manifestations. The park provides open theaters, and, at the same time weaves a network of cultural venues, artists, musicians, researchers, and journalists together. The park introduces an urban lung to the city with a cultural hub, linking fragments of the city together that are otherwise usually found in conflict with one another. This opens up an alternative cultural urban forest in a zone of the city with a 0.29 m2 park per habitant, opposite to the 10-12 m2 established by the world health organization.

To Re-politicize Architecture


Project: Areal Domesticity, 2018, Mextropoli

Project: Industrial park, 2015-2021, Venezuela

Project: Second Hand Pavillion, 2010, Venezuela


Alejandro Haiek Coll

The nine-meter trees planted with our hand 15 years ago step by step disappear the asphalt in a slow conversion from parking lot to park. In order to develop a grounded and critical practice, it was necessary to slow down and reflect constantly and evaluate, discuss, and rethink the protocols and forms of organization of a project.

"I always ask and claim for a space in architecture that is slowed down, where you only need to do a couple of projects since it is not about producing 1000´s of projects but to really keep in touch with the progress. Seeing the kids that we worked with in the streets, that they have become a part of these parks. " Seeing how the kids from the first pedagogical projects have become part of the park, make me constantly reflect that the time of architecture is the time of human relation and not the time of just building infrastructure. The only way that I feel comfortable to develop a building is ‘together’, to be prepared for the implications that this represent. Haiek Coll is currently positioning himself in research pedagogies where he investigates through making. He is trying to blur the boundaries between different structures and discourses such as the academy, professional practice and research while introducing art and design into the process. His most recent project that represents this process is, ‘Sol y Sombra’ where he, together with UMA, The Global Free Unit and Xenia Adjoubei along with a number of universities, produces a transnational summer course investigating the Venezuelan migration crisis. This, in order to uncover ‘shadow policies and shadow ecologies’ in a precarious environment as to work towards climate justice and to discuss alternative structures of socio-economic value ‘for a society worthy of our planet’. AHC: It became a transnational research lab that operated 24 hours, working across time zones and hours of the day.

The workshops are based on intersectional and multidimensional cartographies, a work in between geography, geometry and data. They are placed in zones of conflicts, territories of environmental exhaustion, and threatened cultural heritage. The research encounter narratives from migrants through geo-localized information and social media, creating an experimental immersive environment. What these spaces reveal is emerging pedagogical methodologies would be key for online education and platforms of co-creation. Communication became a mode of activism that mobilize civic society and portrait new urgent narratives. And so, the next step in ‘Sol y Sombra’ is to create a service or support that could be able to operate in-between the digital networks and physical infrastructures. Previously throughout his career Alejandro Haiek Coll has worked with different types of installations and exhibitions. He explains that this is part of his idea of an ethical practice, to be transparent, to display the process and care for the laborers and the materials that are involved in a project. He uses the exhibitions as a media to exchange knowledge and experiences and to keep record of the reflections. This, to take responsibility for the power that architecture inherently holds as a built object, that will always be a sort of ‘disruption’ in Haiek Colls opinion. He continues to discuss the way architecture as a ‘disruption’ can be both a counterproductive measure to social issues as well as the engine to further develop communities and self-governance and, what it means to be an architect in his opinion. AHC: The position of being an architect is always moving from the possibility to emancipate in an action through citizenship and making. I think that is quite interesting because if you remove the center of discrepancies, you are not anymore ‘the experienced’ but you are a person that is working together with people, making things. Learning the same time as teaching, supporting the same time as leading. Architecture is a political construction. Yet, democracy and architecture are words that have been in conflict with one another for a while, or at least re-negotiating, re-calibrating or re-balancing their relationship.

To Re-politicize Architecture


Buildings are machines of empowerment, capable of political propaganda. In that sense they are political instruments, working with political agents. They are interfaces of power, used as a tool to manipulate and re-structure the forces of the territory. Despite trying to do something democratic, using all the participatory protocols, decision making and consulting processes, having assemblies and votes, a piece of architecture will always turn out to be disruptive, it will manipulate the ground, the territory, the environment, species, and the communities around it.

It is only through a process of time that you could produce a shadow, as a tree grows tall, but it cannot happen if you do not allow it to grow, give fruits, fruits fall, you can pick up, cook with it etc. the same goes for more social aspects such as a grandstand where people get to know each other each weekend, continuously for weeks and months and it is only through this process of time where ‘social magic’ can start to happen. Time is the process that allow for more complex developments to bind together all these social, environmental, and political bonds.

Project: Industrial park, 2015-2021, Venezuela

The people that are being empowered by the intervention are also being affected as they can start to use the architecture that they have been empowered by to control others. It is important to reflect on these two conditions that architecture is a tool, a platform of expression. That the moment of building is a practice of democracy, an improvement of democratic procedures, and protocols. But also, the building itself is an exercise of collective accessibility, it is a ‘living work’, an ongoing project which demands people to form organizational structures. And these spaces need to be open for confrontation and intersect public opinion as well as different initiatives. All of this, in order that the building continue to be a catalyst of self-organization and selfgovernance using collective organization and democratic protocols.

You could argue that Alejandro Haiek Coll is somewhat of a polymath being involved in all the different architectural practices you could think of. But it is not possible to understand his practice without understanding his relation to time. He is and has been on a mission to be a designer, activist and researcher working with precarious communities since he began his career. It is only through the passing of time he has had the possibility to continuously develop his practice to be an asset for the wider community and the political world in architecture.

‘First of all we are citizens’ Is the headline of Lab.Pro.Fab’s Manifesto and it surely encapsulates the political standpoint Haiek Coll lives by. by Sofi Håkansson


Alejandro Haiek Coll

Project: Multiprogramme Ship, 2007-2021, Venezuela

To Re-politicize Architecture


Photo: Alan Stewart, October 2020, Finnieston Crane


A Chronicle about

The Language We Don´t Speak

Whenever I come home to my parents I know that their questions will be if my work has been alright, if I passed the course and if I, myself, am happy with my work, Sure , but they have stopped asking ‘what have you done?’, what my project is . This, as the mode of expression in architectural theory and practice that we, architects, students and theorists use is something that they simply don’t understand. How can we be producing spaces for people if the ones we are designing for have no clue as to what we are talking about?

We need to bring the discussions on architecture our built heritage back to the people that are still living and experiencing this environment every day. To the people who are struggling in the housing crisis or the people who are passionate about the climate emergency and want to do something about it.

If there is something we have worked towards in this magazine it is accessibility , for the work to be understandable to anyone, first-years, fifth-years, practicing architects but first and foremost to the general public. For people to be able to engage in a range of different architectural and political issues, issues that are affecting everyone walking down the street. But in order to engage, you first need to understand.

The more voices that are allowed to be heard, inevitably it will give rise to more sustainable practices within architecture and bring about change that is beneficial to the local community and, in a wider sense to our global collective both within theory as well as practice.

It doesn’t bring architecture forward into a more sustainable practice by continuing to use a language that is exclusive for the academics. Sure, in research practices you need to know the jargon and the terminology to be able to bring scientific or sociological research forward. But you don’t need to continue to use that language to convey your ideas to the next generation of students or any of the residents who are going to live in that new building you are proposing. That is not to say that buzzwords or catchphrases will provide any more of an understanding of what that we are producing. It becomes counterproductive to use words that in a sense act as follies; words that turn out to be more decorative than practical while trying to start a discussion.

We need to expand our knowledge in communication in order to invite the general public into ‘our’ issues.

By understanding the people who are going to live in the environment we are creating we don’t have to continue to design based on speculation. Instead, we can start a conversation with the local communities who are already living there and work together towards a more equal, inclusive architectural discource.

"Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody." - Jane Jacobs in The

Death and Life of Great American Cities, pg. 238

by Sofi Håkansson

To Re-politicize Architecture


Breaking the cycle of capitalist design, in conversation with Jeremy Till on

Socially Engaged Architecture

Photo: Sofi Håkansson, 2020, The Barras Market


Jeremy Till


Jeremy Till is an architect/educator working as the Head of Central Saints Martins and, a renowned writer having received the RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding Research on some of his key works in the past (Flexible Housing

with Tatjana Schneider, 2007, Architecture Depends, 2009 and Spatial Agency with Nishat Awan and Tatjana Schneider, 2011).

Now he is on yet another mission of deepening the understanding of socially engaged architecture on a collaborative research project with Tatjana Schneider, Architecture after Architecture. The MacMag invited him to talk about the potential to re-politicize architecture in an otherwise capitalist run industry. After some small chat over the screen, we begin, digging into Till´s view on conventional architectural practice that we see today: Jeremy Till: Oh, God, how long have you got? I need to be quite self-aware talking about this as I am in a very privileged position as a well-paid academic, of the left.

In particular, the space in which architects are allowed to maneuver, it is restricted down to a kind of velvet glove, because at the heart of this capitalism architects dress up the spaces of capital to make them acceptable. What I am interested in is not that ‘dressing’, not the superficial commodification of architecture in terms of making capital presentable through aspects of taste.

I am only interested in the way spatial relationships are social relationships, and vice-versa. That in the production of any form of architecture whether it’s a building or infrastructure, or other processes, you are engaging in the production of social relationships.

”I am only interested in the way spatial relationships are social relationships, and vice-versa. ”

It is easy for me to criticize conventional practice and to take a position against it yet, at the same time I am teaching people to go out into that world. I get the kind of faultline that opens between a comfortable, critical position which I can have within the academy versus the reality of what happens beyond. My response to that is, that it is really important that everyone is aware of the conditions under which the built environment is produced.

I am not stupid enough to think that buildings will no longer be built or that capitalism is suddenly going to disappear, and we are going to get into happy clappy-handholding collective alternatives, buildings are still going to be produced in a commercial world, the argument that I am making is that under late capitalism, the hold of the commercially driven world has become tighter and tighter.

Because you are primarily developing and negotiating within space, not form, not taste, not technique, not building materials. What you have is the ability to negotiate spatial relationships, which at the same time, are social relationships, so that in the ability to negotiate, you can intervene. It may be very,very tiny interventions but you can still do it.

So, there is hope but only if you are aware, in the first instance of the conditions under which spaces are produced are part of a capitalist economy. Only then can you intervene up to the extent to which you are allowed to intervene. It may be in the placing of door in a better place than another door, it may be in refusal to design poor doors, the doors around the back of social housing, which separate out poor people from rich people. That is your decision, but ask the question whether you should. What I write about in Architecture Depends is that as architecture asserts its own autonomy, its own value system, its own obsession with form, taste, aesthetics and technique, which is something that allows architecture to become detached from the political life world. It allows it to think that in pursuing these very self-contained set of gestures, obsessions and discourses that architecure does not need to deal with the life world of politics.

To Re-politicize Architecture


My frustration is when people claim politics lies inherently within a form, proportions or in the aesthetics; I think that is a distraction. The main thing about architecture and politics is all about how life is played out and it is not played out in frontal views of nicely proportioned buildings, life is played out in much messier socially engaged, spatial conditions. MacMag: What do you think students, educators and clients within the architecture profession could do to facilitate change towards a more socially engaged architecture? JT: Clients generally have limited interest in long term issues; clients are generally there for short-term gain and therefore in the longterm clients are perpetuating the climate emergency. Of course, one does get pockets of locally responsible and wonderful inspiring clients, but they are not everywhere. Local authorities these days are so constrained by procurement rules in which so called ‘social value’ is being completely instrumentalized, quantified, and often done in ways which are completely counter to my understanding social value. Practicing Architects, going back to what I said before, must deal with ethics and responsibility, but it is the awareness of the power of space, in relation to the formation of social relationships that needs to be their response. The change must first be within the educators, and it must come from the students too, because it is you who are going to have to live in this world, not me. People get really uncomfortable when I talk about what I call the ’60 year gap’. In education, you are being educated by people who often received their education 30 years ago. What they are doing is transferring those old education systems onto you. So there’s a 30 year gap already. And yet, in general practice you are only going to really reach your full agency in about 30 years time. So, there is a 60 year gap there. And that is where you are uncomfortable. Because what happens too often in architecture education is the perpetuation of orthodoxies. “This was done to me; therefore, I am going to do it to you.”


I think that architecture education really needs to look long and hard on itself. One of the problems is, and, I do not know how one gets over the problem, that architecture education is so founded on the production of pictures. If the only way that you can evaluate an architecture school is through pictures, when pictures can only do certain things, dealing with form, taste and virtuosity. Too often the more virtuosity there is within the picture, the higher the grade you will receive, have you ever seen a really boring-looking scheme get a first? When I was at Sheffield, we introduced ‘the live project’, a collaborative project where there was no architectural production as you define it in terms of buildings, it was often designing infrastructure or working with communities. Often the projects ‘failed’ so that you could learn from the failure, and often it had to do with how you negotiated between yourselves as students. All of this was hard to present in a portfolio, while being a fantastic learning experience. Later, the RIBA came and asked ‘where’s the architecture?’ and gave us a hard time on this project because the pictures were not there.

How does one talk about systems of value within a system which does not allow those values to be expressed? What is happening is that we have woken up to the fact (20 years too late) that having one word, ‘environment’ in our validation criteria is not very cool in the face of the climate emergency. In the new criteria they do have ‘climate’ but the aspect of climate which is most probably going to be concentrated on is the visible stuff, which is the technical. Of course, we need to know about insulation and carbon neutrality but what about all the other aspects of climate justice in relation to social justice, how are we going to describe those projects? MM: Considering the current changes and implications of COVID what do you think will happen? Can we facilitate change now or will we go back to a normal, back to the capitalist run architecture we see today? JT: What one saw in the architectural practices as the shutters came down when the economic

Jeremy Till

circumstances got more and more problematic, a recent survey showed that it was the young labourers who were asked to cover the stretch. I am really worried that when we emerge from the pandemic, that sense of exploitation might be inscribed permanently. I think that we need to have activist groups like the Future Architects Front and The new workers union (United Voices of the World, Section of Architectural Workers) because the idea of doing nothing and letting this continue to develop is concerning. The danger is that precarity is going to be established as a norm through future practice. That is the gloomy side so, let me try though to get to more productive side of things. The pandemic is one of many symptoms of the destruction of the planet, and therefore the most important thing that we need to be looking at is the climate emergency and the way that the modern project, including architecture, has converged to create the climate emergency. The only approach to dealing with a climate emergency has to be one which deals with it in the sense of a radical reorientation of our value systems, including our economic value systems,

"we cannot talk about growth, we cannot talk about progress in same way that we have, we have to look at different economic contracts, different social contracts, different ways of living together." And what COVID has been quite good at showing, at a local level, is how that might happen through community support systems and the resilience of a local network. But in order to face the climate emergency, we are going to need new social contracts. My optimism is that those social contracts will inevitably have spatial consequences. Or rather, the other way around, that spatial formations will be part of the way new social formations will occur. And so, that is where a spatial intelligence which is different from an architectural intelligence can be played out.

What Nisha, Tatiana and I do in Spatial Agency, is to say, there are ways of thinking spatially which can play out beyond the building. Architecture has got itself into a corner and it needs to find other ways by which the spatial intelligences can be deployed. The new project that Tatiana and I are doing, which we have only just started on is called Architecture after Architecture. The premise is that architecture as we know it is no longer tenable as the Climate crisis has disrupted the capitalist rule of architecture.

So, what is architecture after architecture? And I must say that I am really amazed by what is happening in your generation at the moment. If you look at all of these organizations such as ACAN (Architects Climate Action Network), Architecture Fringe, The Anthropocene Architecture School, it is fantastic that all these organizations have come about. ACAN have done more in the space of a year without any resources to lobby the government to change discussions about the circular economy, to facilitate change, working out of their bedrooms, they have done much more than the RIBA have done in 30 years with millions of pounds of resources. And these organizations should give me and my generation a hard time. Our generation created the shitstorm that you guys are going to have to live through. Therefore, it is only right that you raise your voices, you challenge your views and the orthodoxies. You should say, ‘this is not good enough’. I think that we need to find new forms of activism, in order that you get to raise your voices and challenge these orthodoxies; you have to be critical. And, I am really heartened by the way that this is happening right in front of us.

"So, what is architecture after architecture?"

To Re-politicize Architecture


Organizations that you have to check out: Future architects front fa.front The new union uvw_saw ACAN architectscan Architecture Fringe archifringe The Anthropocene Architecture School Anthropocene.A.S Photo: Alan Stewart, October 2020, People make Glasgow


Jeremy Till

MacMag: How do you reflect on your responsibility as a person in power, within your writing and your position as a Head of Central Saints Martins? Jeremy Till: I reflect on it endlessly, because if I didn’t then everyone would be deeply critical of me. I head up one of the world’s great art schools; I could run it in a manner which was simply about ‘me’ about my power, about my influence but, I try not to. But clearly, I am in a position of great power, and I need to use that responsibly. In order to do that I have to remind myself of Zygmunt Bauman’s definition of ethics which is:

to be ethical is to be responsible for the ‘other’. In education the first responsibility in terms of the ‘others’ is to my students, and to my staff, but then that plays out in their responsibility to the other i.e. to the world beyond, the world which has been destroyed, the world of social injustice, the world of racial injustice and so on so forth. So that definition of ethics considering the responsibility for the other is actually very simple but also quite profound because it plays out in so many ways. I do not believe there is a single code of ethics and where Bauman is brilliant in personal ethics is that he strips away any sense that there is a ‘code of ethics’ because that is what the modern project is doing, saying that if we abide by a certain code then we have fulfilled our ethical duty. But Bauman says that ethical duty is only done in relation to the particular conditions of the world and that you do the best you can rather than the perfect. You deploy your ethical responsibility, not as a code which might suggest that there are perfected ways of doing things, but always in negotiation, contingent that things might be otherwise but always at heart that your responsibility is for the ‘other’.

by Sofi Håkansson

To Re-politicize Architecture


Stage leader Miranda Webster Co-pilot Jonny Fisher



GLASGOW…..The Ethical City?

Studio Tutors Charlie Sutherland / Sean Douglas Graeme Massie Stacey Phillips Neil Simpson

Glasgow’s geographic situation, topography and climate as well as the potent political, economic, social and cultural aspects which shaped, and continue to shape, particular morphologies and character. The relative constancy or shifting dynamics of these influential forces have variously informed the continuous process of urban repair, renewal, reinvigoration and sometimes reinvention.

Ethics in decision making and processes relating to the planet, society and in the choices that we make can no longer be separated from architectural design.

With the current COVID 19 pandemic and the Climate Emergency, we can ask the question, what does this mean for the current city and the future of our city?

The Stage 5 students have embraced the theme of ethics and the changed working environment throughout 2020-21, to carry out a group city wide analysis from which to frame independent thesis investigations demonstrated through a range of design proposals across the city

Finding meaningful architectural expression which harnesses anticipated change is one of the most creative challenges of any urban architecture, one which is truly relevant to the planet, place, purpose and people.

Street Facades by Marilena Kynigou, Anjola Soji-Oyawoye, 2020

Community No(de) More by Martha Duncan, 2020

Stage 5




Today’s construction industry mainly functions within the principles oft he linear economy. This finite one-way system that essentially transforms our resources into waste has been driving the construction industry into an unsustainable future for quite some time. A sustainable solution to this problem requires us to move from an extractive to a regenerative circular process. Design for disassembly is one of the most complex design approaches to circularity. It tackles the problem of closing the circle by designing the building to come apart, be rebuilt elsewhere, or for all the components to be reused in another construction. It does not only aim to create environmentally conscious architecture but also architecture with a strong participatory approach, which encourages community’s involvement. The exploration of theparticipatory approach is mainly important in response to the underlining problem of dislocation in Glasgow and the urgent need for public involvement and empowerment. This thesis is looking into designing a design for disassembly infrastructure to facilitate a stronger community build network of ’social mobility engine rooms’ around Glasgow. 128

It aims to reactivate the disused sites around the city by designing a prefabricated kit of parts, which will be used to assemble and disassemble the social mobility engine rooms in parts of Glasgow where communities are not being catered for by any of the existing free cultural institutions, public libraries or community centres. Situated at the old Bellgrove Meat Market, sitting on top of a railway line, connecting this site to the rest of the Glasgow, and taking advantage of the existing market sheds, is the new Headquarters factory. It is a place of prefabrication, education, workshops, andcommunity collaboration. The architecture of this factory reminisces the historical industrial sheds that used to dominate this area, and with its honest and transparent construction, it demonstrates its devotion to circular design. Through the proposed infrastructure, the thesis aims to teach the communities how and giving them the means to participate in the creation of their city, and by doing so, provide them with a service rather than a product

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THE WIERD NEW CYCLE, Regeneration of the once jewel of an industrial era


Many Post-industrial cities have taken it upon themselves to revive their once key industrial rivers. However, Glasgow has yet to do this effectively despite the river Clyde being an integral part of its history. Once, one of the most important riverways in the world, it is now left forgotten and unconsidered, taken away from the city and human scale. By looking at the potential the river holds for a modern city, Glasgow could successfully take back a huge part of its landscape. By factoring in ecology, energy, social interaction and regeneration, developments can be made to the Clyde by proposing a new infrastructure for the river Clyde, one that connects back into the city and gives back the river’s identity. Even if that means taking a ribbon of infrastructure right through the middle of the river


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Public spaces played a major role in the development of democracy, serving as places where anyone, regardless of income or position, could meet, discuss, demonstrate and publicise their causes. The extent to which these spaces are disappearing due to neoliberal culture and the effect on civic life deserves more attention. Public spaces in city centres no longer unite, but rather exclude; and this matter, aside from socio-economic policies, can be addressed through architecture to achieve an ultimate goal - to be open to all. It has to be designed in cohesion with well-derived program from residential to public aspects to connect, involve and uplift every member of society. The project looks at the delicate boundary between private and public, to stimulate vibrant public life on streets, sidewalks, squares and covered public areas though the means of adjacent small-scale enterprises. The key program of the proposal is a public market where anyone is invited to make, manage and sell products. Two levels of open circulation permeate the site in many directions, providing larger footprint for public participation, in attempt to re-connect fragmented urban areas of Glasgow

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The proposed scheme utilises frequent nodes, increased routes, green space and external rooms to enliven the street and further heal the disconnected edges. The placement of social infrastructure elements (like a library and swimming pool) aims to transfuse community utilities out of their centres and onto New City Road, reinstating the high street artery that was once there and reintroduce the ‘everyday ballet of the street’, creating a safe and accessible route and attract users to a common ground beneath the motorway. The community centre, is made-up of three buildings and will sit upon this common ground.


The influence of modernist town planning in Glasgow and the creation of the M8 motorway has divided communities, physically, socially and culturally. Coupled with an antisocial and unhealthy reputation, the motorway has formed a long-lasting wound that separates neighbourhoods in the north of Glasgow from its city centre. Through research and analysis of historic context, literature and the communities surrounding the site, the thesis will seek to reinstate a community connection on New City Road, through health-promot-ing, accessible and diverse architecture and urban planning. Following the implementation of the Comprehensive Development Plan, Glasgow began to suffer from the symptoms of modernist town planning, including low social capital and cohesion, disconnected communi-ties, zonal planning, poor health, antisocial behaviour and uninhabitable environments caused by wounded connections. This thesis seeks to heal the wound created by the construction on the M8 ring road in the 1960’s which sliced New City road in two and contributed to the disconnection of once thriving neighbourhoods. Using theories discussed by notable urbanists Jane Jacobs, Richard Sennett and Jan Gehl and a system of approachable design techniques, the thesis aims to stitch back together community connections which have been lost

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The year 2020 has left us facing a world we don't recognise, we have been forced to confront our own mortality and the fragility of our routines. A harsh reality of the pandemic is that death has become a prevalent facet in our daily life. In this new world we have had to quickly adapt to change, ushering in a new normal. Part of this change is the disruption to how we process and celebrate death due to the harsh consequences of social distancing. Our grief process has been disrupted in multiple ways our personal ability to grieve, the private ceremonies we cannot host and the societal losses we have suffered. Our traditions are not always suitable for life in modern times. Seeing how Covid has disrupted our rituals highlights the potential for change in this area. To promote the healthy processing of the challenging emotions of grief in isolation a dedicated landscape is being presented to aid the course of loss and the handling of death related sentiments.


This space will not purely operate for Covid 19 but be a icon of evolution in how we celebrate the departed, through ceremony and through new environmentally beneficial practices and construction. It is evident through researching Glasgow's history with death that modern death is invisible. Cemeteries and Crematoriums are pushed to the city limits with graveyards falling into disrepair in the city fabric. We have cultivated an atmosphere of denial and fear surrounding death, making it a taboo subject. This attitude isolates those dealing with the difficult grief process and Covid has isolated them further. This proposal intends to challenge this current narrative and look at how the pandemic could be a potential influence on the future of our societal relationship to loss. Through the devotion of space and a return to nature and our historic roots can we create an environment where we can express and confront our emotions in regards to grief? This proposal challenges our interaction with death and how we can develop in this area.

Woodland Landscape

Island Landscape

Stage 5

Public Park


OPENING THE EDGE, Filter for Discource


Architecture is not separated from the world it is in fact inside the world. So how can we support our social cohesion, or our social contract so to speak through our cities’ built form? By looking to understand how defining elements of a city’s built form reveal moments of the past, the thesis project aims to question the ‘collective memory’ that Glasgow as developed since becoming the Second City of the Empire by evaluating how built thresholds and city fragments contribute to today’s collective rhetoric today. By developing new threshold forms the proposal aims to become a physical representation of the parallel between the ‘lived and the built’, whilst being a place that inherently questions the colonial building styles that dominate in the city


Stage 5




Can architecture reduce its environmental impact by utilising efficient digital fabrication methods and timberconstruction? Can such technologies and design achieve frameworks that enable user participation? The thesis response to these questions is examined through a building and landscape design - a canal side site developed to house a craftsmanship and education, design and production programme. The architecturalexploration aims to create public,


open spaces through the technological language of digital fabrication in timber. The flexibility of space is designed through a change of scale, thresholds and adaptability, to provide specific and continuously meaningful experience and use. A crafted relationship between the human and the natural that respects, cares for one and another - architecture that is sustainable alongside nature and for individuals

Exploring how craftsmanship can mediate the natural and human worlds

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A RE-ESTABLISHMENT of Making to the narrative of the Clyde


We a l l o c c u py t h e p l a c e s o f p e o p l e w h o h ave g o n e b e fore u s ; those never known, forgotten or half remembered. Today’s fast and instant culture often ignores and forgets this. However historic architecture and ruins are a way of remembering and honouring what went before. This thesis seeks to find an appropriate architecture with which to build onto an historic fabric, not to remake or replicate what once was but to continue the narrative, adding the next layer. It is an investigation into the unfinished; how can we make architecture intended not to exist in a final state from completion but one that is added to and adapted to the ebbs and flows of inhabitants over time, with each addition adding layers and scars of its previous life




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THE ACROPOLIS of New Industrial Education


This thesis aims to respond to two ideas that are present within the city; exploring former industrial districts with a now forgotten identity, remaining vacant land, and Glasgow’s current ethical and sustainability ambitions, which are recognised both nationally and internationally. Reflection and research emerged as two key ideas, defining two distinct buildings of education. The proposed buildings and linear parks hope to create spaces of reflection, energy production and contemporary research, offering new opportunities for education and renewable energy solutions to power the buildings themselves and wider context of the north of Glasgow. The Building of Research becomes a place of ’active’ learning through workshops, laboratories, classrooms, an informal lecture space and functioning water tower. To balance this, the Building of Reflection celebrates industry at varying levels: district, city and nationally. It comprises galleries and exhibition spaces, archives, and libraries - spaces of ’passive’ learning 144

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Ground Floor Park

Rapid urbanisation breaks the balance between nature and the city, causing reduction and fragmentation of green space. The connection between green space and the city is vital to improve the level of biodiversity and mental well-being in the city. In Glasgow, a part of the city, Govan sits in between the green spaces of the north, Kelvingrove Park, and the south, Pollok Country Park, and could act as a connecting hub in a wider urban green corridor network.

However, it is disconnected, from Glasgow and from itself. Thus, a new green north-south connection tied to the city’s subway network, and urban realm the proposal aim to bridge the railway east-west, proposing that Govan becomes central in providing Glasgow with relief from the obstacle and detritus of its industrial past and looks to a future that is green and biodiverse and a destination in the city

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Govan was once a neighbourhood formerly at heart of Glasgow’s ship-building industry. However, there is an apparent loss of identity in the neighbourhood today, with the derelict graving docks standing as one of the last remnants of Govan’s productive history. Past insensitive redevelopment of many postindustrial sites along The River Clyde threatens the future of Govan Graving Docks today. The thesis introduces a new form of industry to Govan in the form of a material re-use centre. The project aims to be a living monument to Govan Graving Docks, respecting the historic landscape being the primary design intention. In conjunction with this,


the project aims to re-introduce a productive identity to the neighbourhood - providing much needed employment opportunities and re-establishing a locally based skillset for the area. The building programme focusses predominantly on industrial and creative reuse of derelict building materials. In order to minimise the impact on the historic site, the entire building programme is elevated above it. The method of assembly, the recyclability of the materials from which the building is constructed, as well as the programmatic function of its spaces means that the building is capable of largely recycling itself. Eventually, once the building has been fully disassembled, Govan Graving Docks are returned to their former state

Stage 5




This proposal aims to regenerate the stagnant area in Laurieston, by repurposing the underused railway viaduct arches and the car parking dominated subway station site to reform the unattractive street front of Eglinton street. This thesis investigates the hybrid qualities that would produce an intensity of public life.The complex consists of a theatre, a community centre, a range of urban rooms and the existing Bridge Street subway station. The mix of programs interpenetrated and blurred with urban public space create a vibrant place where the communities encounter, exchange and explore. The project’s ethical position stresses cultural equality for citizens from all classes. A range of communal spaces shared by the theatre and the community courtyard theatre encourages the exchange between the professional actors and amateurs, promotes the theatre culture that used to be accessed by an exclusive few, opens the spaces and choices to the diverse groups


Stage 5





The language around migration in many western countries have been weaponised with terms such as the “Immigrant Crisis” and is used to instil fear of migrants entering the country -leaving the asylum seeker and refugee communities stigmatised and painted with the same brush. Currently, Glasgow is the only local authority area in Scotland which receive asylum seekers. Long periods of destitution, isolation and dormancy are experienced by the displaced -all of which were heightened this year due to the pandemic. This thesis aims to utilise architecture as an active platform by providing a series of buildings and spaces that function autonomously but are connected in their architectural form. The programme works to support this by prescribing a dual function. Firstly being a centre for advocacy to give agency to these communities. Second, it works as a free space for anyone to use. This in turn creates an open, transparent programme of spaces. Further to this, the proposal showcasesthe values Scotland holdwith regards to these communitiesand provides an opportunity for the locals to welcome them. The architecture will facilitate personal and collective responses through arts and culture, challenging the status quo which include misrepresentation of these communities and migration by the media. These voices are manifested throughcommunity projects which engage the with the public within the grounds and along the river giving visibility to their presence, skills, culture and stories

Stage 5


A manifesto for scarcity and abundance



Rain Gauge central feature

This thesis seeks to propose a controversial economy that profits from climate change to the benefit of the city. Situated at the high point of Glasgow, Port Dundas, the manifesto imagines a hypothetical new market created by harnessing Scotland’s natural resources in the sale of fresh water, and represents the systems required to power this new economy. The programme reinvents Dundashill and the Forth & Clyde Canal as a key node in the city and generates a new landscape to capture, treat and export water while trading on its value.

Global fresh water sources are severely under pressure, as already experienced in the Global South, in contrast with the water rich climate and culture of the West of Scotland. While rainfall patterns may evolve, water scarcity is unlikely to be a severe threat to the population of Scotland with more extreme rainfall events increasing in frequency. There is too much water, there is too little. The proposal aims to spark debate by highlighting the tension between moving forward in our current trajectory, versus responding to the social and environmental crises and reinventing how we live

The narrative of water capture and distribution becomes a powerful symbol for the existential threats of our time.

Stage 5


THE FORGOTTEN, Loss and Memory During the Pandemic


Many people have suffered different kinds of losses during the pandemic, some have lost family, friends, jobs, health, just to mention a few. These losses impact their lives in different ways, but they have a common need to process their grief and heal. The pandemic has changed the way we relate to other people within our environment, but it has also changed the way we relate to death. Conditions of isolation have made it more difficult to go through the mourning process. The Proposal is a metaphor for the journey through the stages of grief as the visitor walks around the site and the aim is to provide an emotive procession that will allow the visitor to explore the cycle of grief. The historical and the morphological characteristics of the site (Govan Graving Docks), give rise to the programme, a journey through different spaces with a particular atmosphere that respond to each of the stages of grief


Stage 5


BUILDINGS MUST DIE, Exploring the temporal nature of our built environment


Through the anthropomorphication of architecture, we have given buildings life. They have bones, and a skin that breathes, following circulation, devoid of any reference to anatomy, lands you at the building’s centre; its heart. Considering this sentiment, a building as a living entity, this thesis also adheres to Jane Jacob’s adage that ‘Buildings Must Die’. Sparked by the mass demolition Glasgow has faced since the 1960’s Comprehensive Development Plan, this thesis will act as a memento mori to the built fabric of our environment. Immortalising the lost and forgotten histories of Glasgow’s former industrial centres through a memorial; acting as both monument and museum. In a bid to promote the salvation of these ruins, the project will culminate in the restoration of the Springburn Winter Gardens. Where the historic built form will become the epicentre of hope for the future, and its proposed neighbour will reflect on the loss of the past. Doing so though a collation of salvaged material from near by demolition sites. As the project takes on the ethos of circular economy, it will extend the living metaphor in reclaimed materiality; prolonging the material lifecycle from cradle to grave - to cradle to cradle


Public Halls



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POST-INDUSTRIAL RE-MEDIATION, of Scotland’s Coastal Condition



The thesis considers the architectural relationship between the built and natural environment, and looks at the forgotten industrial remains left upon the landscapes of the Western coastline of Scotland, that helped create the industrial powerhouse of Glasgow, without reaping the same levels of post-industrial regeneration. Considering Patrick Geddes’ concept of the “region city”, the thesis examines the possibility of elevating and connecting smaller places related on a regional level to cities, which mutually binds the city and region on a level out-with conventional boundaries - enriching both rural and urban conditions. It further references local poetry of place, acknowledging the intrinsic links between culture, nature, and existing architectural remains. Observing the Isle of Raasay’s unbalanced relationship between Glasgow’s postindustrial artefact left on the island and the island’s natural ecosystems, whose fragility is exposed by the threat of climate change, the thesis questions the future re-purposing of this industrial mining scar as a Rewilding centre coupled with regional underwater energy generation as a method of re-establishing equilibrium – between rural and urban, land and sea, industry and nature, and today’s consumption and climate change

Stage 5





”Amid the rise of worldwide social movements fighting against racism, can architecture, manifesting as a physical presence in Glasgowto acknowledge its historical ties to the transatlantic slave trade and represent these realities as an integral part of the city’s history, help in bringing reconciliation to its diverse and multicultural society?” The thesis responds by proposing ajourney to travel down into an abandonedrailwaytunnel, hiddenunderneath the affluent streets of West End, to view the city from another perspective, revealing and memorializing Glasgow’s dark past and its legacy on modern society. The tunnel is designed as an experiential museum and memorial to create a linear experience travelling through the dark, evoking the memories of the city.The Demolished railway stations along the railway line is rebuilt as “Ghosts” of the gloriouspast and serve as entrances into the tunnel

Stage 5




“Great Western Wind catches in your Celtic hair Flicks it round your face like flames around the sun” - Franz Ferdinand, [2006], L. Wells


This project explores the city of Glasgow through the works of storytellers: Alasdair Gray, O. Douglas, James Barclay, Stuart Murdoch, Bill Forsyth, Franz Ferdinand, Stuart McHardy, Gail Honeyman, H. Kingsley Long and Alexander McArthur, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Moira Burgess, and many others. Full of contradictions, pain, and fantasies, each story contributes to the making of the city we experience every day

The elements in the collage include artwork of Alasdair Gray - graduate of Glasgow School of Art and author of Lanark, photographs of the city, geological maps of the city. The coloured bands represents the soil types beneath the surface of the ground, ears and mouths to hear and tell stories, and a crest made up of a unicorn for Scotland, a dragon for Lanark, a tree for the legend of St Mungo, roots for my underground project. And finally the title - Mersus Memoriawhich in Latin means something like buried memory

Stage 5




It has been proposed that Glasgow is a protoknowledge city, reliant on its emergent knowledge economy. Vacant buildings, often former institutional buildings, can be found in areas of the city removed from the so-called knowledge economy, and are often relics from the city’s previous industrial economy. It is perhaps easy, therefore, to see these white elephants as obsolete: in place but out of time. But what are the factors that determine a building’s value, and who is it determined by? What are the material conditions that created these elephants, and what are the economic, social and political landscapes that informed these conditions? What roles did these buildings formerly serve in their communities, both explicitly and implicitly, and is their loss representative of something more than the loss of a piece of architecture? With these questions in mind, how might a vacant, formerly-public building in an area of the city cut off from the new economy be repurposed to once again serve its local community, a community that has for decades had to tolerate its effective absence?



Food Banks & The Illusion of Impermanence Food Banks are intended to provide short-term relief to people who find themselves suddenly unable to afford food. As an indicator of their supposed impermanence, many of them occupy a small space within an institutional building: a school, a community centre, a religious building. They don’t need a dedicated building; they are opened in times of dire need and then, once the crisis has abated, they are closed down again.

A vestry inside the church holds its stock of shorter-dated items. This ad-hoc system of appropriated space works in the short-term, as new donations are sorted by product and date and then allocated either to be used immediately or stored for later, but becomes inefficient when relied upon for years. During a period that sees an influx of donations, typically around holidays such as Christmas and Easter, the food bank can become inundated with many hundreds of donations, quickly accumulating to the point where it goes unsorted. Its unjust to denigrate the undoubted generosity of the local community, but the food bank is ill-equipped to deal with sudden influxes of donations.

Except, however, that the crisis hasn’t abated. In fact, their usage has increased dramatically since the last economic crisis and continues to increase through this one, brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Trussell Trust, a charitable trust that is the largest operator of food banks the UK, has seen the number of food parcels it distributes increase by almost 1 and a half million in the past five years.1 As many as one in five schools in the UK now operates a food bank, as families struggle to meet the increased cost of food and energy while locked down at home with children.2

The pandemic saw an unusual turn of events: the food bank, for a short-time at least, didn’t have to share the space. The church, unable to open due to lockdown restrictions, was given over to the food bank’s operations. Suddenly, the main congregation hall was available as a central ‘sorting office’, and another hall became a ‘distribution centre’. This brief flirtation with stability, albeit in unstable times, afforded a glimpse of an alternative world where the food bank wasn’t always on the back foot.

Food banks have become a permanent fixture of contemporary life but many still operate as if they were a temporary measure. To admit that so many people rely so frequently on food banks would be to admit that society in the fifth-largest economy in the world is vastly unequal, unthinkable for those who occupy positions of power.3 The organisations that operate food banks optimistically see their role as temporary, hoping to bring about the changes that will make the use of food banks unnecessary. The end result of the above two positions, though diametrically-opposed morally, is that food banks remain trapped in a liminal state, between permanent and impermanent.

This modest improvement should not be seen as the ultimate goal however. Organisations such as the National Food Service provides a vision for the future in which food poverty is no longer a problem, as food is distributed freely at the point of service, while imagining a more communal form of cooking and dining. It recognises the interconnectedness of issues such as poverty, poor diet and poor health, and loneliness. Though only one model, it does perhaps offer a more hopeful alternative to the current food bank

The Glasgow North East food bank in Parkhead is run from the Calton Parkhead Church and occupies a number of offices and store cupboards within, administering its services from a church hall. In the small yard to the rear of the church there is a shipping container which holds a majority of the bank’s stock– primarily tins of soup, beans, vegetables et al.

UK charity gives out 2.5m food parcels as need hits historic high, The Guardian, April 2021,


One in five UK schools has set up a food bank in Covid crisis, survey suggests, The Guardian, 2March 2021,


World Economic Outlook Database, April 2021,


Stage 5


ISLANDS IN THE CITY, A ribbon of celebration


Flooding Mitigation

Reintroduction of Moldendinar

Nature Reserve

The thesis will create ‘event’ and ‘movement’ through vacant, disconnected land in the city centre. The nature of the development will bring to light the disposable nature and isolated attitudes of Glasgow’s people, promoting awareness of the climate crisis and subsequent change. With continuous development and expansion of the city in combination with climate change the city of Glasgow faces a serious issue regarding water levels. The whole city is currently classified as ‘potentially vulnerable’ (SEPA) . This manifesto rethinks the ways in which we interact with blue infrastructure and looks to celebrate water processing techniques providing public benefit, educating the city. A series of events will run through the east end of the city linked through the newly de-culverted Molendiner Burn culminating in Glasgow Green where the surface-water collected will be celebrated in the form of a bath house


The white you see is a representation of the current water body in Glasgow, the lightest blue is the area that will be affected if we were to see a 3m increase, the darkest 5m and the mid range 10m.

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URBAN HYBRID, A redesign of the urban block



As the contemporary city advances to the digital age, it shifts away from the previously apparent seg-regation of function to a more integrated urban mix. The user’s needs have changed, and the convec-tional typologies have evolved to reflect them. This overlap of functions has led to the birth of a new typology, the Hybrid building. The thesis project investigates how the Fabric Hybrid is used as a tool to re-imagine the urban block and shape the public realm. The aim of the project is to promote unexpected encounters and increase social interaction by creating an environment for people to live, work and play in the city centre of Glasgow

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The thesis takes basis in Jorge Luis Borges story ‘The Library of Babel’ where the universe is an infinite library containing books where every possible combination of letters is written down meaning any possible information can be found regardless of its veracity. This function can be closely linked to the digital framework of the internet and its current standing in the socio-political discourse where fake news and misinformation are causing polarisation on a large scale. The library which traditionally work on a similar premise, for people to gather and gain information, is currently existing as a parallel to the digital algorithm, where it is holding on to its customary functions unable to perform the needs of an increasingly digital world. The project sees it as an aim to find how the library can be what the internet cannot, while containing the qualities and freedoms the digital space achieve, a place to connect as well as a place of individual freedom.

The proposed structure and individual spaces architectural aim is to sustain the ability traditional libraries have to give a sense of curiosity and for a sense of travel to be translated into the physical space. The project is constructed with the consideration of the traditional library struggling to perform what society currently requires from a public space of information. It is not an aim for the project to disregard what the library is, but to acknowledge what it isn’t. The programme aims to perform this by creating a hierarchy of spaces ranging from communal, shared to individual, in quiet, moderate and louder spaces as an aim to keep the qualities of a library while incorporating the functions of the digital space. People are invited to use the hierarchy of spaces to acquire and share information, thereby functioning as the algorithm of the physical space

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Climate Mass Migration is predicted to displace up to 1 billion people from their home by 2050, the thesis explores the future of sustainable development within hyperdense urban areas by investigating the possibility of building on top of the already existing urban fabric - alternative to merely building new taller towers. With a massive portion of the population displaced from home, the thesis also explores the underlying psychological issue of Homesickness - feeling displaced and a lost sense of belonging. For sustainable and resilient city development, how to maintain an intimate quality of social interaction and provide a space of comfort within urban enormity?


Using the metaphor of a Mantelpiece - every household’s mental furniture, the thesis muse on the play of nostalgia and the city’s spirit of place. The proposal observes the life of the city as it goes by, while at the same time shelters the memories inhabiting within. Serving as an anchor for the local community, the proposal is even more so as a localisation of new memory - embedded in between the skyline of monuments and vistas. The Urban Mantelpiece is an alternative mind sanctuary that aims to relocate a lost sense of belonging by cherishing and celebrating the memory, the present, the inevitable change and creating new connections between the city, the city dwellers and the horizon beyond

Stage 5




The Garden

The ruins of a mental hospital with a history of using outdoor activities as treatment is revitalised into a therapeutic garden, using the healing forces of nature to mend physical and mental ills. The project establishes an attitude to architecture similar to that of the gardener; a long term vision composed of smaller continual interventions intended to slowly alter the building rather than using grand allencompassing gestures. Care and maintenance are the leading principles, referring to the way the ruin is restored, the manner in which patients are treated and the way the garden is run and developed


The North Wing

The Winter Garden

The Green House

Stage 5

The East Wing



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Curated Decay by Callum Sibbald

MArch by Conversion

Teaching Cohort Florian Urban Brian Evans Chris Platt Isobel Deakin


The Masters by Conversion is a research-focused, studentinitiated 15 week architectural investigation. The student uses their thesis project as an intellectual springboard to explore a specific research question in considerable depth. For a student, it is an opportunity to engage with familiar or new methodologies in order to identify a more focused area of research which has a strong relationship with the completed thesis and about which they have a compelling degree of curiosity.

We find that students value the chance to work in an experimental manner, acquiring more knowledge and utilising knowledge differently -for example, engaging in a narrow topic in depth, engaging in up-to-date research, or taking a multidisciplinary approach and examining something familiar and presenting it in a new, innovative way. It is a journey of architectural and personal discovery. Students choose whether their finished output is through a written dissertation or through an exhibition.

This exercise is an attempt to mentally challenge the way we perceive our surroundings, places we inhabit. To try and appreciate the canvas already given to us by the built environment that exists, to see it for what it is and be inspired by it, notice its oddity and sublime imperfection. I am hoping for this body of work to become an incentive providing a framework and guide to anyone interested in the city, a resource I wish I had having first moved here.

Lidia O’shea - WALKING HOME

Starting as an attempt to write an ‘Activist Manifesto of Architecture in Glasgow’, thisproject has eroded into an atlas of ordinary observations in the city. The information isgathered through ‘immersing’ into the maze of streets, parks and structures by plottingroutes guided solely by curiosity. This new knowledge and findings on the place I callhome, was only possible to collect by being physically present at every location in thatparticular time. It is an album of reminiscence and simultaneously hope for the future of Glasgow’s development.

Combined together, the routes cover a large, yet linear in fashion, area of Glasgow and environs. It is a sample of what the city holds within. Through taking photographs, drawing stories and mapping the routes I have recorded my observations and experiences which are subjective and personal with the intention to make them appealing and inviting to other people.

March by C


Callum Sibbald - CURATED DECAY 182

How can a Kit of Parts architecture consolidate and protect modern ruins whilst curating their legacy? Through this research project I intend to propose a contemporary solution to the consolidation and protection of St Peters Seminary. In doing so I intend to critique and question the conservation of modern architecture and its relevance today. By utilising a kit of parts architecture, a framework developed in my 5th year thesis. I intend to place a space frame canopy over the seminary to protect it against rain. Saturation of the concrete structure is the biggest concern in this instance. The space frame will be supported by thin columns that will slip through the exposed exterior of the seminary and in doing so will frame key spaces internally and externally. The output for this research will be an exhibition which provides a visual conclusion to the research carried out. I aim to curate a linear exhibition that take you on a journey around the seminary and to see the opportunity that such an approach could present. Could this approach could be re-applied to other historic monuments that are at risk? I do not intend to re-define the principles of conservation but apply them in a way which frames a ruin in a perpetual state of decay rather than trying to restore and repair it.

This Research project explores the concept of urban flood resilience as opposed to resistance. In identifying the environmental challenges faced, these examples of historic architecture may be considered when their conditions are mirrored elsewhere due to climate change. To examine the architecture, the Sectioned Axonometric was selected as a methodology in order to analyse materiality, construction, thresholds, relationship to water, and configuration in a single frame. The line drawing forms an unbiased view of each condition while the orthographic perspective provides an understanding of how elements and materials are implemented to form the places of living, allowing analysis of each condition spatially but also socially. By having this insight into several cultures, their communities, technologies, and knowledge we may broaden architecture’s performance in today’s challenging realities. Furthermore, emphasis is placed on designing architecture that addresses the adaptability of both society and the environment. We must rediscover the value in locally sourced material and simple construction methods, that encourage a relationship with the natural surroundings rather than obstructing them.

March by C

Derrie Pearson - RE-LEARNING

Can solutions to todays climate crisis be found in historic architectural responses to living with water?


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Teaching Cohort Dr Raid Hanna PhD coordinator Thea Stevens


Daylight, as a design theme, is fundamental in architecture for creating a sustainable and healthy living environment. It is key to providing a congenial atmosphere, which can manipulate the way that interior space is perceived and experienced. However, due to the high cloud coverage, synonymous with dark and gloomy sky conditions in overcast locations like Scotland, decisions on façade fenestration design and the subsequent use of artificial lighting are mostly geared towards providing sufficient interior illuminance, without addressing the crucial influence of façade fenestration on daylighting and occupants’ attitudes towards the aesthetic and emotional domains of atmosphere. From this perspective, this PhD study investigates the relationship between façade fenestration and daylight levels under overcast sky conditions within various façade windows and spatial typologies of design studios. A longitudinal research design was adopted for this study. Therefore, the research methodology is largely experimental, and thus empirical in nature. It involves quantitative data measurements, namely façade fenestration, daylighting levels and distribution inside the design studios.

PhD Study


The investigation of façade fenestration for daylighting levels under an overcast sky



Some of the participants

Faces of MSA


"Can you allow screen sharing?"

Crafting a Magazine Amidst A Pandemic This reflective piece feels ironic - although ”irony” may very well be the wrong word since even after countless years of essay writing some of us still don’t quite fully grasp its meaning. Cambridge English Dictionary describes it as "a situation in which something

which was intended to have a particular result has the opposite or a very different result".

Here’s the thing. The entire crafting of this magazine was based on viewing the MacMag as a platform. Consequently, (and rightly so - I should add) we began to question our role, as editors - who did

we want to hand the microphone to?

Each of us wanted the issue to showcase a specific theme, and so we had to find a common ground - something that brought together our individual causes. That ’something’ was the notion of responsibility - social, political, tecnological and environmental. What we failed to conciosuly address was our own responsibility, as editors. Despite our fight for an accessible voice, (hence the limited free copies and online version), we have retrospectively noticed something we want you, as a reader, to acknowledge as well.


"Covid-19 is an unwilling time-stamp, placing this MacMag issue in a very pivotal moment of time”

Only 42% of what you have just read (in terms of articles, not student work) has been written, or is showcasing a female. An even more striking 28% was written by a member of the BIPOC community. Sadly, as the publication comes to an end, there is not much we can do about this, bar acknowledging it. Making both us, and you, the reader, aware that we have not provided as diverse a magazine as we would have hoped. But hope is a nice word to end it on, as we have plenty of that. Thanks to the pandemic, certain pressing issues have been brought to light. Arguably, things like BLM, COP21 or Working from home have become worldknown - something perhaps only possible due to our united voices from home. The editors of MacMag46 hope, with all sincerety, that these changes help shape the world for the better, and ultimately apologise that we did not do a better job of diversifying the voices we showcase.

by Laura Scalco


Brian Mark Evans Epilogue; Inexorable or Inevitable?

Our future in a four-letter word ….

Photo: Alan Stewart, October 2020, Argyle Arcade

You have been reading MacMag#46, produced, as it always is, by some of MSA’s best and brightest from Stage 4 Architecture. As it always is? Well not quite, MagMag is not an inevitability but it is, if we have been doing our job as faculty, an inexorable consequence of the pedagogy that is the MSA thinking factory. The editorial team has been provocative, which is good news (this is an art school after all) … angry, which is a relief (weren’t you angry in your 20’s and if not, why not?) … and reflective – which is rewarding but by no means a given – for being reflective at any age takes insight, maturity and understanding. When I was asked recently to write a short piece about the effects of COVID on lighting the city for the international journal of the LUCI network, I found myself musing on the reflective and refractive qualities of light as a metaphor for reflecting on the virus and the refraction – splintering – of our lives as a consequence. It seemed appropriate, like us all,


I have done a great deal of reflecting on COVID. Fragmentation, isolation, the fact that knowing that everyone is experiencing the same thing is of cold comfort on a dark winter evening, on a deadline, on your own without the familiarity of your team – even if only to say “keep it down already, I’m working here!” In his book

Adventures in the 21st Century: The Future starts here”, John Higgs muses on the proposition that if we are “to build the city of the future, we must first imagine it” before

going on to investigate the consequences for our collective mental health if the only futures we can imagine are apocalyptic and dystopian. Quite right too, for therein lies despair. Although, like anyone with some emotional intelligence, there have been times recently when despair has come knocking: “Black Lives Matter”, “She

is Someone! ’s mother sister, daughter”, “Don’t listen to me, listen to the science!”

So where, in these reflective and refracted times, do we find solace? In recent work for the Long Now Foundation of San Francisco, Peter Leyden looks at our times from a perspective 80 years out. He doesn’t try to imagine life in 2100, but instead creates the space to imagine back to 2020-2050. Leyden’s work is instructive for distinguishing between inexorable processes and the inevitability of their outcome and, returning to Higgs’ narrative about current trends leading inevitably to apocalyptic dystopia, Leyden reminds us that, as the architects of the Anthropocene, Humanity has Agency that can influence the inevitability of the outcome. COVID has been immediate and visceral with consequences for the individual, but climate change is longer term, remorseless and with consequences for civilisation. We need to migrate the urgency of our collective response to COVID into the agency to act and influence the inexorable forces of extreme weather events and increased sea-levels as a result of ice-melt and warming oceans (described by Jeff Goodell in his book “The Water will come: Rising Seas, Shrinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilised World”) to become the imperative to influence an otherwise inevitable and dystopian outcome. Put another way, WE can shift the needle away from apocalyptic dystopia to a more humane outcome through the intelligent harnessing of the inexorable forces of change in a shift from utopian visions towards achievable, ecophilic ambitions. This is Kate Raworth territory of adjusting human existence to live between the

two membranes expressed (in the somewhat unfortunately titled Doughnut Economics) as the ecological ceiling (biodiversity loss and climate change) and the social foundation (‘leave no one behind’ in the UN’s words) where we work to minimise overshoot of the former and undershoot of the latter. No surprise then that David Attenborough puts this model front and centre in his witness statement A Life on Our Planet, nor that it is mentioned by Mark Carney (author of Value[s]). As faculty at MSA we have many Responsibilities. Let’s set aside for a moment the bureaucratic necessities in favour of those that bring joy – the pastoral duty to nurture the talent we are privileged to teach, the opportunity to inculcate self-belief in that talent, and to foster awareness when ability is present, but talent is not. In this year of years, this mission has been compounded by another, always present but now prescient task … the giving of hope. For me, this has been the biggest challenge of this year – finding where our own hope resides in order to channel that into the provocation, anger and reflection of our students … just as my own hope is sustained by their talent, ability and intelligence. So, if you are one of the lucky ones suffering only from spare room syndrome (no COVID – yet – but in work and somewhere to do it) … and perhaps of more importance if you are not so lucky … our future direction of travel must be governed by that four letter word HOPE as we channel our collective agency into mediating the inexorable forces of climate change to deflect the inevitability of dystopian and apocalyptic outcomes.

Image: Warming Stripes for GLOBE from 1850-2019, Ed Hawkins, University of Reading, Creative Commons 4.0 Professor of Urbanism and Landscape, leader of the Glasgow Urban Lab and Glasgow’s City Urbanist

By Brian Mark Evans 193

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