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Keppie aim high with a Cowcaddens 'city marker'

September 21 2023

Keppie aim high with a Cowcaddens 'city marker'

Glasgow's inner city Cowcaddens district is to acquire a new centre of gravity with the submission of plans for 594 apartments (combining build-to-rent and private sale properties) alongside supporting amenities, community space and gardens.

Keppie Design with Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual promise to tuck the edge location back into its rightful place in the city centre by dismantling Buchanan House, the subject of 'significant' structural and cladding defects and establishing a distinct urban community in its place - recycling as much as 94% of the building fabric in doing so.

Ranging in scale from seven to 21 storeys One Cowcaddens will redensify the district as a 20-minute neighbourhood, in line with Glasgow's city centre population aspirations, re-establishing urban streetscapes in an area characterised by fragmented streets.

Summarising their approach the architects wrote: "The plan maximises east and west-facing apartments and encourages natural daylight into external residents’ gardens. Height to the east acts as a city marker to orientate towards the development.

"Material and tone choices are influenced by local analysis to provide a contextual architectural response that sits comfortably in its surroundings. There is an eclectic mix of architectural styles adjacent to the site, but commonality is found in the use of a pink/red and grey tones."

Retaining the bronze 'Locomotion' statue fronting the busy Port Dundas the project will weave itself into surrounding streets through a combination of public, semi-private and private spaces including playgrounds and space for outdoor sports. Ground floor commercial units will help to activate these spaces, in anticipation of future part pedestrianisation under the council's Avenues Plus programme.

Furthering these goals a dedicated community facility is also proposed, offering space for gatherings, workshops and classes. Over 90 new trees are also promised, with landscape architecture handled by Oobe.  

All visualisations were produced in collaboration with Float Digital.

 Stepped apartment blocks will vary in scale from seven to 21 storeys
Stepped apartment blocks will vary in scale from seven to 21 storeys
A fluted roof deck provides ample space to digest what city living has to offer
A fluted roof deck provides ample space to digest what city living has to offer

An active roofscape incorporates south facing amenity spaces
An active roofscape incorporates south facing amenity spaces


Fat Bloke on Tour
#1 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 22 Sep 2023 at 12:50 PM
Glesga PLC viewpoint -- surely it would be better to allocate the site to Caley expansion?

The uni seems to be on the up on a number of fronts and they have a very tight site with few options for new buildings.
#2 Posted by Roddy_ on 22 Sep 2023 at 13:59 PM
Per #1
By 'allocate', you mean that the current owners of the site donate it to Glasgow Caledonian University?

It would certainly be a generous act.

Surely your own house/flat/accomodation would be better off allocated to your next door neighbours who, I gather, are looking to expand from a very tight site with few options. :)
Fat Bloke on Tour
#3 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 22 Sep 2023 at 15:10 PM

You might want to re-visit the topic of city centre masterplanning regarding the allocation of space and resources to particular uses before you start dishing out the cheap jibes.

Currently in use as commercial office space -- is housing given the glut of vacant sites in the city centre the best use of this particular site?

Significant change of use angle in play and seemingly the development will fly through planning -- to my mind not the best of outcomes.

You might have other ideas but supporting higher education would be a public good that should garner wide support?

Or does it only extend to the middle class denizens of Gilmorehill rather than the middle income / blue collar youth at Cowcaddens?
#4 Posted by Ray on 22 Sep 2023 at 15:21 PM
It would be better as part of GCU. It’s currently developing a campus masterplan, which I hope significantly redevelops its tight and isolated campus.

It definetly requires a level of investment on par with other universities (some near £1billion into campus developments).

Even half of this, would be enough to regenerate this GCU campus area, with thorough and smart planning.

Being in the top 40 universities in the UK, the university has so much potential with its research, widening access and several initiatives linked to sustainability and social innovation.

New campus expansion and significantly redeveloping the current buildings would go a long way in providing a much needed revitalisation of the GCU buildings.

If Glasgow and Strathclyde are receiving investment and opportunity on such a massive scale, why not GCU?
devilish advocaat
#5 Posted by devilish advocaat on 22 Sep 2023 at 15:23 PM
Are GCU looking to expand or do they just happen to be on a very tight site nearby?
Georwell 84
#6 Posted by Georwell 84 on 22 Sep 2023 at 15:32 PM
Maybe moving GCU to Fleshers Haugh or Victoria Hospital area would be better. Giving East End or South side its own University. Current site is too cramped.
#7 Posted by Clair on 22 Sep 2023 at 15:35 PM
Agree with GCU being expanded or redeveloped somehow. I have hope since the arrival of a new principal Steve Decent, previously a provost at Manchester Metropolitan, another university which has committed to investing in students and it’s campus future

Perhaps he can provide a much needed push for investing in the campus. I’m aware of the restrictions the university faces with a lot of students on campus therefore doing infrastructure work is quite hard during term time.

Having it offsite like Buchanan house would be ideal for making new builds. GCU is unique as it’s campus is not as dilapidated like many others.

The business, computing and health schools I feel should all deserve a distinct identity and having them a bit more spaced out with better designs would allow these departments to be unique.
#8 Posted by Roddy_ on 22 Sep 2023 at 15:43 PM
Och where's your sense of humour? It is clearly packed away alongside your granular understanding of how the planning system operates.:)

#9 Posted by Ray on 22 Sep 2023 at 15:48 PM
I feel the university shouldn’t build a new campus elsewhere. It makes it dilapidated and severed. I know numerous students from UWS and other institutions with sites all over the place which make it harder for students to travel around.

GCU is ideally located centrally. The only issue would be to redevelop it’s current campus significantly and expand nearby where it is legible. Other such as Leicester and Sheffield Hallam university recognised the importance of a sense urban campus hence dedicated their developments to the buildings they had already and smartly expanded nearby.

It may take longer and also brings the issue of relocating while infrastructure is being redeveloped, but many institutions are capable of handling relocation and perhaps even partnering with others in the mean time (strathclyde?)

The old masterplan only invested £32 million to change the heart of the campus. While needed, it’s nowhere near the level of the investment needed to craft a world class campus ready for the future.

I sincerely hope GCU and GCC look at options for the university estate and stakeholders take the opportunity to capitalise on something really promising here.
#10 Posted by Roddy_ on 23 Sep 2023 at 02:47 AM
Do we know if a planning app is imminent or in the offing?
#11 Posted by UR on 23 Sep 2023 at 09:06 AM
The application is still in the validation process. It should be viewable next week.
#12 Posted by Roddy_ on 23 Sep 2023 at 13:25 PM
Many thanks UR.
#13 Posted by Roddy_ on 23 Sep 2023 at 13:52 PM
Looks like Keppie's have been copying out of Stallan Brand's jotters.

More than a passing resemblance to the towers at Buchanan Wharf and Candleriggs. One wonders how long this vertical ridged terracotta cladding will be a thing.
Not convinced by this salmon pink cladding though (see also the original iteration of the redevelopment at Portcullis House - apparently inspired by the red sandstone tenements in the city) . I'd have have thought Tay House would have put paid to cladding of this hue but apparently is having something of an unwelcome renaissance.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#14 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 24 Sep 2023 at 13:05 PM
Housing on this site -- stack-a-pleb filler.
Impact on Glesga PLC -- minimal locally / infinitesimal city wide.

Bigger the picture -- the opportunity cost of removing this site from the orbit of the GCU and its potential for enlargement and facility improvement.

Changed days -- the GCU is doing the heavy lifting regarding to the higher education needs of middle income / working class children in West Central Scotland.

And the singular lack of investment in the institution shows how the focus has switched in a generation.

Local access to Glasgow and Strathclyde is being heavily rationed by Holyrood with their focus on an export led business model and GCU has stepped up to the plate to take up the slack and keep the issue out of public discourse.

You would have thought that with the closure of the EU angle -- 15-20% of the Holyrood higher education budget being used to provide free tuition for the English speakers amongst the continental middle class things would bring change.

However -- so far no luck.

No matter the future -- GCU needs support / investment.

Talk of world class facilities is just so much PR / powerpoint hot air -- where else in Civic Scotland do we have world class anything? -- improved teaching should be the primary aim to deliver an improved academic ranking / public persona.

That would open up the possibility of GCU of increasing its export earnings and funding a much enlarged campus without waiting for the civil service to get its act together.

In this context 600 flats on this site is farting against thunder.

#15 Posted by Ray on 26 Sep 2023 at 16:16 PM
Completely agree with you here #14

For a long time glasgow and strathclyde have overshadowed a real underdog with GCU excelling in so many areas. Why not invest in such an institution to support transformative education and leading research. A significant investment into the campus, is an investment into staff and student led initiatives that will further build upon the university’s strengths and open doors to pioneer new ones.

Just stick a couple of homes right next to an institution and that should breathe life into the area? Please. The university is one of the main drivers of footfall here. Expanding it to Buchanan house would help spread the footfall whilst addressing the need for new facilities.

Building homes here would just enclose the area and give an island like feeling as they’re designed to be safe havens to relax and seclude. Unlike the university which is supposed to attract and drive activity within area.

Don’t really understand the reasoning behind this other than ‘we need more houses - let’s find a vacant sight and fill it, hoping that would solve the issue’. If the intention is to build on community then a less busier and purposeful site with mixed use would seem a better option, no?

The placement of the homes just seems so questionable when there is opportunity awaiting right next door.

Wish there was a forum to the council or the planners so that people could look at this further?

Jake Janobs
#16 Posted by Jake Janobs on 29 Sep 2023 at 12:05 PM
Could GCU not persuade Annie Lennox to pony up for some new buildings, like the one at the centre of their campus which already bears her name?

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