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Final plans lodged for £66m Burrell Renaissance

March 8 2017

Final plans lodged for £66m Burrell Renaissance
McAslan + Partners have lodged long awaited proposals for a major overhaul of the Burrell Gallery in Pollok Country Park, Glasgow, to safeguard its long-term future.

Refurbishment of the 1980's museum has been necessitated by the need to repair a failing external envelope, update services and improve access and display to meet today’s visitor needs.

Proposals also call for an increase in exhibition space to cater for the 80% of the collection which is currently not on show by making use of under-utilised upper floors and improvements to vertical circulation with a central hub taking the place of an auditorium at the buildings heart.

This reorganization will extend to a new entrance space adjacent to the current access to provide a greater sense of arrival and cater for more flexible usage of the museum.

In a design statement the architects observed: “It is a client aspiration to have early morning, evening, daytime and evening events of differing scales. It is also important that the museum can also cater for non-museum guests as well as events.”

A key element of the work will include re-laying the roof to provide sufficient drainage falls amidst problems with water ingress from the ‘flawed’ existing design which was laid ‘almost entirely flat’.


#1 Posted by Mick on 8 Mar 2017 at 16:52 PM
...a failing external,you mean the outside needs fixed?
#2 Posted by GraemeMcCormick on 8 Mar 2017 at 21:41 PM
I rather liked the entrance. It's simple and mysterious
#3 Posted by Cadmonkey on 9 Mar 2017 at 08:11 AM
Strange picture to use to sell the design.
It looks like any old bland modern school.
Have the images been mixed up?
#4 Posted by Jamie on 9 Mar 2017 at 10:34 AM
Seriously they have made that lovely warm brick and concrete inerior into a shopping mall?
Bassett Hound
#5 Posted by Bassett Hound on 9 Mar 2017 at 15:05 PM
I understand that the image shown above is of a new central hub which replaces the auditorium and provides access to the current basement storage area. The primary purpose of the project (from the Council papers available on their website) is to provide access to 90% of the wonderful Collection - currently only 20% is on display.
European Canon
#6 Posted by European Canon on 9 Mar 2017 at 17:33 PM
Not sure I understand the need to move the main entrance? Yes, open up more of the collection. You can even call the new access to the basement a 'hub' if you like. But why disturb the excellent existing entrance sequence if its not broken?
Sue Pearman
#7 Posted by Sue Pearman on 10 Mar 2017 at 09:58 AM
I have to agree with the comments about the entrance sequence - the existing entrance was brilliant.... until the shop started obstructing the way in. My interpretation of all the proposals is that they seem more about revenue generation than user experience. One of the most disappointing aspects is totally surrounding the cafe glazing in tarmac. The building is very carefully placed in the landscape and the cafe glazing growing straight out of the grass is important to how the building is viewed. Unfortunately the building will be worse of for these changes IMHO.
The Flâneur
#8 Posted by The Flâneur on 10 Mar 2017 at 13:30 PM
Likewise, I find some aspects of what they are trying to do disorientating. The existing entrance sequence is a key aspect of the experience of the Burrell. Why change it?

Here is what their Heritage statement has to say about it:

“The existing main entrance sequence is a carefully considered architectural idea intended to create a processional experience of compression and expansion before discovery of the first main space, the central courtyard.”

So far so good though here comes the but:

“In practice the 35 metre walk, much of it only 4 meters wide, is congested with two way traffic, reception, shop, toilet and cloakroom facilities all competing for space. Large groups such as school parties or coach visits are particularly difficult to accommodate.”

Many times have I been in the Burrell on busy occasions and I can’t say that is my experience of it though in fairness the shop has gotten more cluttered over the years. Rather, it seems a carefully considered and logical sequence that both takes people on a promenade into the heart of the building while taking account of their needs i.e. you’ve just traipsed through the park you might, you know, want to use the facilities so there they are at the entrance right where you’d want them. It is a straightforward pragmatic bit of planning. However, if you look at the new entrance sequence can anyone point me in the direction of the toilet? Answer: no, because they are tucked away out of sight where the old entrance was which is now the educational wing. The next big set of toilets are down behind the cafe in the newly accessible basement. A bit of an epic fail in planning terms then.

Next comes criticism of the original entrance:

“In addition the medieval stone arch from Hornby Castle is not an obvious and welcoming entrance for many members of the community.”

Seriously?! Sorry, but it is pretty obviously the main entrance and I live in the local community.

Compared to the old entrance sequence the new one is the model of confusion. You cut into the building through the glass wall at the return of the original entrance wing (still taking a full 35 metres to get there) and then they’ve hollowed out what was the Hutton Castle dining room so as to accommodate the arrival of visitors.

Having read the Heritage statement I’m also baffled as to what they are going to do with the Hutton Castle dining room as it reads as though roughly two thirds of it will remain in place with the wall opposite the entrance being completely removed and then new openings carved out of the two end walls. That will completely alter the domestic scale of the room resulting in a rather idiosyncratic entrance which is neither one thing or the other. How this configuration is then supposed to divert visitors to their left so they can reach the new reception area is something of a mystery.

However, what is interesting about the Heritage statement is the rather unambiguous dislike of the Hutton Castle rooms which are describes as a:

‘…rather uncharacteristic part of this modernist building’

Er, sorry, but what is more important here? The modernist styling of the building or the ethos behind the collection around which the building was sensitively planned in the best modernist tradition?

The reason those rooms are there is because in his will Burrell stated that:

“the collection should as far as possible be shown as it would be in a private house... to ensure that the building has little semblance of a Museum as possible”


“in order to retain their artistic value and feeling, the rooms in Hutton Castle should be reproduced in the building or museum to be erected to contain the Burrell Collection as nearly as possible”.

Pretty unambiguous then.

I’d say these rooms form a key part of the Burrell experience and this is made very clear in the HES listing statement. The argument in the Heritage statement that they aren't visited strikes me as disingenuous. In part this is due to a failure of interpretation but also due their being roped off virtually every time I’ve visited. And anyway isn't the contrast between the small domestic scale of these rooms and Barry Gasson, Brit Andresen and John Meunier’s vision for the Burrell actually part of its delight? Why throw this away by butchering them so as to form a half-baked arrival experience?

I have to say this approach - which gives every appearance of being ham fisted - does not bode well for the future of the much loved if now under visited Burrell Collection. Please, please don't ruin it.
#9 Posted by RJB on 10 Mar 2017 at 20:24 PM
I hope McAlsan + Partners reconsider their design. Scotland has relatively few 20th century buildings of this quality and thought.
S Young
#10 Posted by S Young on 13 Mar 2017 at 07:35 AM
Here's the link to the drawings if anyone wants to view them inline with the above comments :

It seems from their design statement : Section 4 Proposals, page 55, that they intended to keep the original entrance : "The existing entrance is retained & enhanced reinforcing this important entrance to the building both during normal opening hours as well for out of hour events". I haven't had a chance to look at the full application in depth so can't really comment further at the moment.
#11 Posted by Stephen on 14 Mar 2017 at 14:33 PM
My abiding impression of the Burrell is of two unique and incredible atmospheres:

1. Expansive, sandstone enveloped, top-lit circulation spaces.
2. The contrast of this weighty, permanent sandstone building against glazed galleries pressed hard up to the dappled light of the surrounding woods.

This is a heavy building, with stone stairs and floors, with walls of stone embellished with Burrell's collection of portals, architraves and other salvaged pieces. The red sandstone connects it to Glasgow, roots it in time (after blond sandstone) and sets it apart from generic cultural alien-landings like Holl's GSA.
In this context the expanse of plasterboard shown in the image isn't good enough.
The new entrance better be finer than the wonderful slow reveal of the old, but I have little confidence it will be.

I wonder what Caruso St John might have done with this project...

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