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ADF table plans for Merchant City student housing tower

January 11 2017

ADF table plans for Merchant City student housing tower
ADF Architects have brought forward plans to erect a significant student housing development in Glasgow’s Merchant City on behalf of Structured House, complementing ongoing regeneration at Collegelands.

Merchant Point will offer 431 units of student housing in a staggered block stepping up to 13 storeys at the junction of High Street and George Street and is formed from two tone facing brickwork and polished precast concrete.

In their design statement ADF wrote: “… the form of the building breaks into three main components, ‘head, body and tail’, and this is expressed through changes in height and materials. However the constant element throughout all facades is the articulation of the bedroom units. As a repeat module, the window becomes a ‘standard’ unit [integrating ventilation grilles], however these sit within a larger brick opening – which allows the window to move and slide to provide a subtle complexity to the pattern of the facade without affecting the rigorous layouts inside.

“The buildings relationship to the listed building on High Street is undoubtedly dramatic – we however recognise that this ‘juxtaposition’ has the potential to enhance the central open space, giving the historic building a relevance within a composition of contemporary urban moves – and predicting how the future development of the vacant site to the south might also change to enhance this evolving part of the city.”

Proximity of a main line railway tunnel below ground has forced David Narro structural engineers to devise a transfer truss structure of up to 42m in length to spread the load of the building over the tunnel.
 In the long-term land to the immediate south will be targeted for mixed use development, enabling formation of an interior green space
In the long-term land to the immediate south will be targeted for mixed use development, enabling formation of an interior green space
Street level will be activated by the inclusion of retail units
Street level will be activated by the inclusion of retail units


Neil C
#1 Posted by Neil C on 11 Jan 2017 at 11:21 AM
I like the honesty of the driving rain in their CGIs, and the retail elements look good. The height adds presence, but it could do without those barcode windows on upper storeys.
Sir Ano
#2 Posted by Sir Ano on 11 Jan 2017 at 12:37 PM
I wonder how long that Coffee Cup unit will sit empty?
#3 Posted by stef3d on 11 Jan 2017 at 12:48 PM
A bold move at first glance, but I like it. Completes the vista down West George St well and seems fairly well balanced with the triple height base and not a set-back upper floor in sight!
#4 Posted by Yaldy on 11 Jan 2017 at 13:16 PM
I am massively in favour of this, though completely agree with #1 re the upper floor windows. This space is crying out for mass, and agree with #3 as well
#5 Posted by Yaldy on 11 Jan 2017 at 13:28 PM
Also, just realised this means getting shot of Old College Bar
#6 Posted by lm on 11 Jan 2017 at 13:50 PM
Agree with #1 barcode windows on upper levels are a bit strange but in general... I kinda like it. Nice Graphics too
#7 Posted by 11 on 11 Jan 2017 at 17:28 PM
Is nobody going to mention the scale? this is so unbelievably inappropriate in this location and this part of town, the massing is totally unsuitable.
#8 Posted by Charlie_ on 11 Jan 2017 at 22:32 PM
@11, the development directly abuts a 270k sq/f office on george street with a roofline matching the slightly smaller portion of this development; diagonally across from that office is an 17 storey tower. In the opposite direction you have 3 14 floor housing blocks along duke street and another 13 floor student block diagonally across high street. They all seem appropriately scaled to me, personally.
Andrew Ryan
#9 Posted by Andrew Ryan on 12 Jan 2017 at 08:36 AM
I really like this. The scale is no issue at all for me - it's an effective transition between the George Street axis and the Collegelands and also terminates the High St vista quite nicely. The barcode cladding does seem a bit arbitrary but otherwise it looks promising.

Materials will be important however - get the right brick (unlike Collegelands) and this will be a cracker.
#10 Posted by stef3d on 12 Jan 2017 at 09:20 AM
Regarding scale, this is a prominent corner site and junction of two major roads. Also there are huge level changes across that part of town, with the old Strathclyde student halls on top of the hill opposite towering well above this. With the huge bulk of the TIC next door and further large developments planned for the Collegelands site I think it is appropriate.
tom manley
#11 Posted by tom manley on 12 Jan 2017 at 10:20 AM
i drove past here yesterday - i quite like the nature of the building - and it seems to fit well with other new buildings near by, but can't help thinking its a shame its scale does not address high street tenements or the beautiful little building it sits next to... ( i forget its name ) nice 3ds tho that seem to give a good idea of what building will be like.
Robin Bruce
#12 Posted by Robin Bruce on 12 Jan 2017 at 10:20 AM
I have a family link to the The Old College Bar and I would be sad to lose this piece of history. Not just long-standing pub in the area, but the last remnant of the original University of Glasgow site.

I believe the architects have deliberately fudged the issue by having a big blue lorry that has just happened to park in front of where it would be if it were preserved. What's the chances of that!?
#13 Posted by Bogey on 12 Jan 2017 at 13:03 PM
I think this looks rubbish personally! The scale is ridiculous, the images typically selective, the shop front scale poor and the materials wishy washy. And well done for the honesty in the visuals showing the rain, but that doesn't matter when it comes to the quality of the build does it. Still, looks like I'm in the minority so what the heck good luck to them.
#14 Posted by pleasantfield on 12 Jan 2017 at 13:34 PM
Well, the CGIs dont really help. From them the scale and the colour seem wholly at odds with the red sandstone storey heights of the High Street flats. It may ,match development on George Street but surely it needed to compromise as it reached High Street.
#15 Posted by CADMonkey on 12 Jan 2017 at 13:39 PM
I think the scale of the proposal is staggeringly inappropriate and smacks of developer greed.
"Terminates the High Street vista quite nicely" - pah!
Imagine you had bought a flat opposite this?
You would turn very pale.
Does the City of Glasgow Council not have a policy on overshadowing and daylighting?
On the loss of a pub, surely this is good for Glasgow, and besides students shouldn't be encouraged to drink. They are there funded by the taxpayer to study.

The monkey has spoken.
last orders
#16 Posted by last orders on 12 Jan 2017 at 13:43 PM
I genuinely prefer the miserable greyscale Glasgow i knew back in 1976. I'm not really a fan of all our shiny new tomorrows.
#17 Posted by Neil on 12 Jan 2017 at 17:34 PM
College Bar: Parts of the building which houses the bar were built as far back as 1515. So, now visitors to Glasgow can avoid yet another reminder of its history and have another reason to go to Edinburgh instead.
The Flâneur
#18 Posted by The Flâneur on 12 Jan 2017 at 18:29 PM
I think this pretty simple to critique in terms of townscape.

Saying it responds well to George Street misses the point that it is the High Street which is key.

It may be badly damaged in part due to the Victorian removal of the University but mainly due to the anti-urban idiocy of trying to funnel a four lane elevated motorway down it from the 1970s onwards but it is the High Street that is Glasgow’s most important historic street and this scheme needs to respond to that with sensitivity as what the High Street needs is healing and a reinstatement of its human scale.

If one were to follow the route from the Clyde up through the Saltmarket across Glasgow Cross and Trongate to High Street and then follow it up the Bell of the Brae to the Cathedral there are a series of key moments and incidents along it that are central to an understanding of Glasgow.

The first is the High Court facing across to the Maclennan Arch and the entrance to Glasgow Green. Then it is Glasgow Cross and Trongate with the detached objects of Tolbooth Steeple, Tron Steeple Mercat Cross etc siting within the tapering urban space. Then it is the huge Italianate stables on Bell Street. And then the Scottish Baronial City Improvement Tenements containing the Bell of the Brae which is turn give on to Burnet’s superb Barony Church, Cathedral Square and most importantly the Cathedral flanked by Miller’s Jubilee Block of the Royal Infirmary.

It is a great sequence but it is the stretch between Ingram Street and George Street that needs healing and repair.

Now imagine inserting this overly-large student housing scheme into that sequence and I’ll tell you what the result is - it will dominate it while reducing the delightful James Salmon Jnr bank next door to relative insignificance.

And why?

Why should a student housing block be the most dominant incident on this key historic route? Why should it over-dominate the tenements of the Bell of the Brae as the perspective shows only too well? The previous tenements occupying this site were 5 storeys whereas this is 12. Why? And why would we even consider offering a developer such a huge planning gain for a speculative student housing scheme. What is in it for Glasgow? Will giving consent to schemes like this help heal the High Street and turn it into a desirable location once more or will it result in further speculative and over-scaled proposals?
Graeme McCormick
#19 Posted by Graeme McCormick on 13 Jan 2017 at 00:26 AM
It's a monster. The problem is not so much it's height but it's bulk. It dominates the view down High Street while the view of it from east west and south is forgetable. A building which tapers as it rises would be much more satisfying
#20 Posted by George on 13 Jan 2017 at 07:40 AM
Agree with #9 and #13 regarding the materials. Glasgow seems to have an obsession with either white render or polished concrete both of which look terrible after about 3 months. Projects like this could have so much more longevity with some decent materials thrown in but it seems to much to ask for in today's price driven market.
Partick Bateman
#21 Posted by Partick Bateman on 13 Jan 2017 at 09:01 AM
The Flâneur is absolutely correct. Well said!
Mac Mac
#22 Posted by Mac Mac on 13 Jan 2017 at 09:11 AM
Totally agree with #18.
This proposal offers nothing to the High Street.
The main image tells the whole storey when you look at the intricate detail of the red sandstone tenements and roof line.
The proposal is devoid of any context.
#23 Posted by Bogey on 13 Jan 2017 at 11:30 AM
So we're agreed then - this building is an insult to Glasgow's historic context and will not improve the urban fabric or user experience one bit. Next!
#24 Posted by David on 13 Jan 2017 at 12:10 PM
I think I agree that it's too tall, however I keep asking myself about how contrast works in urban situations (for example, matching material and colour with an important neighbouring building potentially devalues the important neighbouring building, and that contrast can be a positive thing).

Whilst I was a bit stunned at the 1st image when I first saw it, feeling that it appears completely out of scale, I do think that it potentially highlights the beauty of the High Street tenements, which I have never really appreciated before.

#25 Posted by Yoyo on 13 Jan 2017 at 14:17 PM
I don't have an issue with the height or the contrasting materials, although my first impression was shock. After I let the initial shock settle, I noticed that they do help to highlight the beauty and detail of the red sandstone tenements as you look down High Street.
However, I do have an issue with the corner glazing and the barcode windows at the top, which are both weak. Both could be improved on without increasing cost. A lot will depend on the Contractor, workmanship and detailing. As usual.
#26 Posted by Bogey on 13 Jan 2017 at 15:54 PM
I'm not sure that making red sandstone tenements look good counts as a redeeming feature - put another way, the quality of the red sandstone tenements show how poor the new building is
#27 Posted by Terra on 13 Jan 2017 at 21:46 PM
I like it! Gerrit built!
#28 Posted by Cateran on 17 Jan 2017 at 22:54 PM
My initial impression was of horror and my second impression is much the same. The building lacks any imagination and merit, and replicates the many other tall, offset windowed buildings put up in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee etc, etc. This being 21stC Glasgow, there is no sensitivity with colour, treatment, scale, massing or such and while it probably finishes off the line of similarly blandola modern buildings in George Street it fairly bludgeons its way into the High Street. Indeed the first illustration makes the tenements look like they're looking down at a rather undesirable plooky youth who has just gatecrashed a Kirk Session.
#29 Posted by Odette on 23 Oct 2017 at 19:50 PM
These plans are an abomination. High Street is the city's most ancient artery, and should look like Candlemaker Row or Cockburn St in Edinburgh. This monstrosity overshadows everything and is also going to obliterate the ancient Greyfiars Well and gardens. The people of this city are being sold out to greedy developers, and High Street is going to be a wasteland of unwanted, dirty, glass slums.
The poster who thought this travesty 'nicely terminates the High Street vista' clearly has a complete disregard for the quality of life if the people who live in the TRADITIONAL tenements. I hope this thing collapses in a heap; that would be the most fitting end to it.

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