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Scottish Opera expand on Speirs Wharf HQ plan

December 14 2023

Scottish Opera expand on Speirs Wharf HQ plan

Scottish Opera has expanded on its plans to create a mixed-use neighbourhood surrounding its Speirs Wharf production studio during a second round of consultation.

New Rotterdam Wharf is to be anchored by a new headquarters for the cultural body comprising rehearsal, teaching and performance spaces in addition to student accommodation on land off Erdington Street. This will plug directly into the Forth & Clyde Canal by a new staircase that will tie into established pedestrian routes to the city centre and double as an outdoor congregation space.

Responding to feedback from an initial outreach exercise the height of the northern student accommodation block has been reduced by two floors on its eastern side by architects Page\Park. Talks are also underway for a supermarket chain to occupy a commercial unit alongside a cafe and gym.

In a consultation statement, Scottish Opera observed: "The development strategy that has evolved for the site is to place the proposed new Scottish Opera rehearsal and support building between the existing Edington Street production studios and the canal towpath. A core circulation route through this new building will link a new canal-side entrance down into the existing production studio and to the existing entrance on Edington Street.

"To the north and south, two student accommodation blocks (PBSA) are proposed, with stepping scales, effectively ‘book-ending’ the site and providing activated frontages to all four corners of the plot. Pended access under each PBSA block provides access to two internal courtyards providing service and visitor access to the Scottish Opera building. New broad feature steps at both the north and south ends of the site provide connection between the ends of Sawmillfield St and Corn Street, connecting up to the canal edge."

The flat roof of the new production facilities will host the final element of the scheme, a walled garden connecting directly to the canal by bridges. Enclosed by two pavilions and a pergola this space will host an amphitheatre and garden suitable for outdoor performances.

The project team comprises Struer, Max Fordham, 3CQS, Harrison Stevens, Ryden and Buro Happold. 

A 'walled' garden will serve as the backdrop for a unique outdoor performance space
A 'walled' garden will serve as the backdrop for a unique outdoor performance space
Chamfered corners will frame elevated city views from the canal
Chamfered corners will frame elevated city views from the canal


#1 Posted by Roddy_ on 14 Dec 2023 at 15:32 PM
Towers are still mis-scaled even with set backs and reduced height and the active part of the 'activated frontage' simply isn't good enough.

Why do the towers engage with the quayside and not the main body of the inbetween buidling ? Why are the facades so open and broken? The prospect of a Tesco Metro (how exciting) does not really make up for any of this.

A poor piece of urbanism underpinned by a lack of any masterplan or codes to guide its development.
#2 Posted by Gordon on 14 Dec 2023 at 17:48 PM
Architects have always made poor master-planners...nothing new in this. Glasgow urbanism is in steady decline. A great city fading from view.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#3 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 14 Dec 2023 at 23:22 PM
Control would appear to be the dirty little secret of the architectural / urbanist world.

The need for a masterplan to be involved to put up a garden hut.

Not good.
#4 Posted by Roddy_ on 14 Dec 2023 at 23:51 PM
#3 showing his tinfoil hat credentials here as well as the usual ignorance.

Clearly no real understanding of how buildings and places are desgned, consented, procured and built.

There is no secret, there never has been. Control is precisely what masterplans and codes are all about- the clues are in the words. Not sure what the reference to garden huts is all about - but yes a masterplan to guide and control development in Port Dundas is precisely what is required otherwise we get what we have already gotten; a mess.

I suspect #3 is one of the headbangers that thinks 20 minute neighbourhoods is an international socialist conspiracy to restrict personal freedoms and movement.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#5 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 15 Dec 2023 at 09:25 AM
The issues with masterplans is that they have to be good to be credible -- the outputs have to match the intentions and provide evidence that the control delivers a societal benefit to justify the limitations they place on the public.

In and off themselves they are not the solution -- they have to be good not just exist.

We have masterplans coming out of our ears -- it a growth industry with societal lived experience being recycled as poor quality academic work and middle class welfare.

Middle class welfare for those that can talk but not do -- to be fair there is a lot of it about in todays SEG inspired country.

It would help if today's practioners or at least their public mouthpieces could start to see the wood from the trees -- guidance would be a better narrative to sell rather than control and more appropriate given the one club golfer nature of those seeking to direct the process.

SO have to be commended for trying to work their estate to deliver funds for facility improvement -- basic courtesies to their neighbours should be the focus not blind obedience to some sort of functionally irrelevant / long lost / long forgotten masterplan that is out of date and out of credibility due to the ongoing change in today's world.

Has it been updated for CoViD19?
Has it been updated for the transition to BEV transport?

However I fear we are generating a priesthood / sacred caste that believes than they and only they have the skills and aptitudes to lead an ignorant population through the challenges of putting one brick on top of another.

As for the political slant -- if socialism can only be delivered through artists impressions and middle class creative types wearing double corduroy then progressive politics really is dead in the water.

Now where did I put my Red Flag CD ...

Jake Janobs
#6 Posted by Jake Janobs on 15 Dec 2023 at 10:34 AM
Fat bloke excelling himself by getting his "middle-class welfare" catchphrase in twice in a row in a single post, albeit for rhetorical effect. Not that I entirely disagree.
#7 Posted by GlasgowGripes on 15 Dec 2023 at 17:30 PM
The state of the elitest comments in here are shocking. This is a well considered, beautiful concept in an area of the city ripe for development and built around a core of a busy and expanding dance school. Most cities would cry out for developments like this but these nimbys (all of the above) have nothing but negativity and dour attitudes. I bet they don't even live in the city and haven't walked along to Spiers Wharf since the 1990s.
#8 Posted by Roddy_ on 15 Dec 2023 at 19:25 PM
@#7 Yes - em, I think you need to re-read and try to understand that a negative criticism of a proposal does not mean that development of that site in principle is opposed. Quite the opposite. It just needs to be better, more responsive to context and more appropriately scaled.

The opportunity cost of this is something better.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#9 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 16 Dec 2023 at 18:14 PM
More appropriately scaled -- well how does it measure up against the multis on Cedar Street or the ghost of the Pinkston Power Station cooling tower?

Not bad but probably missing a bit of bulk / a bit of heft.

The opportunity cost of this proposal getting refused is nothing being built and the SEG having to pony up more cash for SO.

Mark it down as dynamic filler -- pretty good attempt that will generate economic activity in the area.

It might even enliven the Spiers Wharf area which has turned into Sleepy Hollow after a high energy beginning.

Perfection is the enemy of progress.

And surely we are all progressive regarding our politics around here.
James Hepburn
#10 Posted by James Hepburn on 25 May 2024 at 13:15 PM
Seems like Scottish Opera has hit a bum note. The towers in particular look dreadful.

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