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Glasgow City Chambers overhaul plans aired

January 8 2013

Glasgow City Chambers overhaul plans aired
Ahead of the expected unveiling of six shortlisted schemes to refurbish Glasgow’s George Square tomorrow one local practice has come forward with ideas of their own to remodel the City Chambers as an intrinsic part of any new Square.

Stallan-Brand propose removal of the road fronting the City Chambers together with relocation of the Cenotaph to the opposite side of the square. This would serve to open up access to the Chambers building itself, principally a central dingy courtyard which would be re-imagined as a new British Museum style public space for civic events and receptions

Paul Stallan, design director of Stallan-Brand, said: “Our studio believes that the George Square design initiative should include the City Chambers.

“It is the City Chambers building that could do the most to change the Squares dynamic. The Chambers building is a truly magnificent building that is effectively closed to the general public. There are tours of the building at certain times but the building could do so much more for the citizens of Glasgow.

“Glasgow's local government is modern and ambitious but lacks an environment to communicate this to its public. Glasgow could have a new forum space like the remodeled Berlin Reichstag, the Louvre in Paris or the Great Court in London to showcase to visitors.

“We have imagined in the spirit of open and dynamic local Government that George Square is seen as an extension of its city's very own 'parliament'."

The plans represent pure blue-sky thinking from the practice and are not currently penciled in for implementation but council leader Gordon Mathieson, who has been kept informed of the ideas behind it, is said to have responded positively.

Shortlisted George Square designs will be placed on public display at the Lighthouse from 14 January.
Stallan-Brand's plans entail returning the Square's front aspect to something more akin to its original layout
Stallan-Brand's plans entail returning the Square's front aspect to something more akin to its original layout
The Victorian city chambers are in need of an upgrade
The Victorian city chambers are in need of an upgrade


kevin toner
#1 Posted by kevin toner on 8 Jan 2013 at 14:13 PM
I feel nauseous over the suggestion and will literally throw up if such nonsense gets further credence. Such things for George Sq have already been debated on this URL not long ago. My views on this appear alas to have made no difference to the real movers and shakers.

The latter should kindly avoid interacting in any urbanism to do with incredible historic cities unless it can otherwise dispense appropriately between Urban Conservation and Urban Renewal. Each has its place and George Sq is definitely one of the last places in the world to be putting the latter over the former!

Glasgow’s incredibility is not that of Paris’, Berlin’s, etc. Such dreams of grandeur are a necessity there, yes, but not in Glasgow, which bears her own brand of incredibility...

Let's not loose that, please!
#2 Posted by Brian on 8 Jan 2013 at 19:30 PM
I dont think they do.leave them alone.
alan park
#3 Posted by alan park on 9 Jan 2013 at 09:55 AM
Best proposal for any redevelopment of George Square I've seen yet - give the 'studio' the job, before the cooncil demolish the Chambers, just like the Springburn halls
Robert Currie
#4 Posted by Robert Currie on 9 Jan 2013 at 10:59 AM
Stallan Brand's proposal to remodel Glasgow City Chambers as an intrinsic part of a new George Square is an exciting prospect and truly enlightened thinking. I earnestly hope that their visionary proposals along lines of either the British Museum Courtyard or the Louvre in Paris is nothing short of visionary.
Think what that would do for Glasgow let alone George Square and the City Chambers. I hope the city father's will sit up and take notice of these proposals.
#5 Posted by wonky on 9 Jan 2013 at 11:10 AM
I wish I had never seen that second picture now- I am now officially depressed- did those two ornate arches actually exist? If yes then where are they now? What a loss- what was the rationale for removal? That is one of those images that just makes you think of what the city might have the original Montieth Row...or the Gallowgate...or the better parts of the old Gorbals...the loss of connectivity to the city centre via Anderston, Cowcaddens, Calton, Townhead, Woodside and you just think: "God what a disaster we have made of our great city."
#6 Posted by Paul on 9 Jan 2013 at 13:03 PM
They have got this spot on. A project like this needs to built on the existing jewels, not turn away from them.

“We have imagined in the spirit of open and dynamic local Government that George Square is seen as an extension of its city's very own 'parliament'."
#7 Posted by Stephen on 9 Jan 2013 at 13:10 PM
The image with the two arches is the laying of the main foundation stone of the chambers, the arches are part of the walls there today I'm sure.
Urban Realm
#8 Posted by Urban Realm on 9 Jan 2013 at 13:25 PM
The second photo was taken in 1882, an interesting view pre-Cenotaph. You can see wooden seating for dignitaries in the foreground as well as flags on the rooftops and bunting to mark the occasion.

Four ornate gates were built around the square but I presume these were just plaster casts.

It's difficult to make out on the image but it looks as though the grassed areas of the square were paved for spectators and seating of some description laid out across it.

Allegedly 600,000 people turned out to celebrate - pretty much the entire population of the city at the time!
kevin toner
#9 Posted by kevin toner on 9 Jan 2013 at 14:15 PM
And please note everyone here: this is today's basic urban layout, i.e. with a road in front of the city chambers' plot: the way it was planned; and the way it'd better remain...!
kevin toner
#10 Posted by kevin toner on 9 Jan 2013 at 14:16 PM

i.e. on the 2nd photo.
The Beard
#11 Posted by The Beard on 9 Jan 2013 at 17:04 PM
This is the strongest idea to date for the area, GCC take note
Dominic Quigley
#12 Posted by Dominic Quigley on 9 Jan 2013 at 17:16 PM
Were the arches not relocated to Royal Exchange Sq possibly? They look similar.
#13 Posted by demarcs on 9 Jan 2013 at 19:00 PM
this idea is infinitely more interesting than any of the proposals for the square.

re the arches, they were wooden. a large stone arch by rochead was erected at jamaica bridge to welcome the young victoria on her first visit to glasgow in 1849 but was dismantled shortly afterward
#14 Posted by wonky on 10 Jan 2013 at 10:33 AM
The Stallan-Brand proposal is brilliant, innovative, visionary and prescient...hence the reason it will never happen in Glasgow. Get rid of the roads around the square! Relocate the Cenotaph to the other side- can't see this happen considering its "sacred" status. Opening up access to the Chambers building by means of a central courtyard would symbolise the burghers willingness to open up the democratic heart of the city to the people; it would also signify the creation of a new, distinct and dynamic urban space...still don't think it will happen.
kevin toner
#15 Posted by kevin toner on 10 Jan 2013 at 12:28 PM
wonky: it's not the Kremlin at Red Sq etc. It's a council HQ in George Sq.

Even if Glasgow were to become an administrative capital with the City Chambers as its base, then perhaps a urban conservation/renewal debate could ensue. Until such times, don’t operate on the healthy: would you ask Bolt to go in for a heart transplant before his next sprint?
#16 Posted by Neil on 11 Jan 2013 at 08:57 AM
I'm surprised that the 2nd (historical) photo has been used by the architects as it pre-dates the city chambers and is taken from the building's future site. A return to this vision would involve bulldozing the city chambers!

If you look closely at the photo there are four arches arranged around the square. They are almost certainly temporary structures.
#17 Posted by demarcs on 11 Jan 2013 at 12:47 PM
neil, no-one is proposing demolishing anything, the image is an illustration of the late victorian layout of the square, if you look past the temporary seating thats there for the laying of the foundation stone. but then your eagle-eye spotted that, didn't it.
kevin toner
#18 Posted by kevin toner on 14 Jan 2013 at 11:46 AM
A cenotaph immediately in front of municipal buildings isn't unusual in the Commonwealth among certain cities. No harm in being one of these, I’d say, especially here as it’s not in the way of major pedestrian traffic movements! Imagine the [unwanted] clutter on Queen Street and inter alia the problems of relocating such a lovingly built permanent structure as this, to the other end of the square.

Passer-Byers are not complaining with having to meander around or pass those important horse backed figures or James Watt, which are now the perpetual guardians of the statuary in a way. Perhaps it was the Parks Dept that conjured this processional conceit and quality along Queen Street - in probably the mid 1920s with the coming of the cenotaph - in the last re-jig, which we now take for granted. We might even have Sir JJ Burnet (the cenotaph designer) to thank for this move (?)

Forget moving the cenotaph here unless we’re going for the superpower capital status, where the pedestrians are a joint second along with the pigeons: with no love of statuary or interest in placing it appropriately.

Enjoy the civility that’s been handed over to us, it’s there or here rather. Seek and ye shall find!

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