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Planners demand a more contextual approach at Glasgow office build

April 29 2019

Planners demand a more contextual approach at Glasgow office build

A prominent office proposal for Glasgow’s Argyle Street has been radically reworked with a dramatic cross-braced steel and glass design supplanted with a simple masonry grid after planning officers requested ‘greater contextual awareness’.

Cooper Cromar and Osborne + Co are again behind the latest vision which incorporates a setback building line on Robertson Street and rooftop cutbacks to create a tenth-floor landscaped terrace.

Explaining the rationale behind their alternate approach the architects wrote: “The original office design was inspired by the use of a metal grid design to create a street wall drawing inspiration for scale and proportion from Victorian structures such as ‘Hielanman’s Umbrella’, the Titan Crane and the railway bridges over the River Clyde.

“The planning officers felt that a greater contextual awareness of the site surroundings was required of any new building given its location within the Central Conservation Area. This has resulted in a series of themed workshops which have helped to gradually evolve a different approach to the design of the new building.”

Formed over fifteen levels, including a basement, the build will have a gross internal floor area of 380,000sq/ft. An active ground floor is once again proposed, maintaining Robertson Lane as an access point to a basement car park.

Robertson lane will remain in use as service access
Robertson lane will remain in use as service access
Setbacks will allow formation of a tenth floor roof terrace
Setbacks will allow formation of a tenth floor roof terrace


#1 Posted by wonky on 29 Apr 2019 at 17:11 PM
I'm really not sure why planning officers are insisting on 'contextual approach' when the council have already green-lit the demolition of the existing sandstone building, a Victorian structure that fits the so-called 'Conservation Area'. As for the design itself, there's a whiff of circa 1980s 100 Bothwell Street about it- nonetheless its an improvement on the previous iteration- but it could be improved with further elevation, with possibly one more step back instead of the proposed two. Why does Glasgow prefer the clunky chunky box to the narrow gracile vertical towers favoured by other modern cities- is it again some misguided nod to 'contextuality'?
#2 Posted by MV on 30 Apr 2019 at 09:37 AM
The real story here isn’t the redesign (good or bad), it’s the role of the planners and their recently designated “design officers” (or whatever they are called). The influence these people have on the design and aesthetic of the buildings in our city is frightening. They often approach these meetings like first year University tutors, it’s painful and pointless and yet our hands are tied. Clients are becoming even more wary about investing in Glasgow as a result. They have delayed several projects that I am aware of – and the changes are rarely for the better. Who are they – what is their track record and what is their expertise as design guardians?

If the council wants to put emphasis on good design – fantastic. Let’s do it through good policy and if we need “design officers” let’s empower those people that have a proven track record in good design - in our city and further afield i.e. Paul Stallan etc.
Graeme McCormick
#3 Posted by Graeme McCormick on 30 Apr 2019 at 13:48 PM
I’ve often thought that Planners etc should not be appointed until their homes have been approved by a panel of Architectural Professors.
keen observer
#4 Posted by keen observer on 30 Apr 2019 at 14:03 PM
I think I went to school with him on the bike.
#5 Posted by Pleasantfield on 30 Apr 2019 at 16:05 PM
The colour is about the only thing contextual here. To me context is perhaps height, massing and certainly fenestration and elevational treatment. I do hope this is not evidence of the new urban design guru Brian because its simply a repeat of what came before. Nothing new here whatsoever. Like Cadogan Street it will be gone and replaced in 30 years time
Kinsey Wellington
#6 Posted by Kinsey Wellington on 30 Apr 2019 at 17:20 PM

Having gone through the revised design document on the portal I actually think the massing is very clever and responsive to the varied context - far more interesting and effort put in than most things in Glasgow over the last 10 years. It does risk being banal but think this also has real potential to be successful in Glasgow’s oblique view corridors with the elevations treatment. Hope the detailing is sharp and the terrace is publicly accessible. Ps what’s going on with argyle Street avenues development?
#7 Posted by alibi on 30 Apr 2019 at 22:09 PM
surprised by the negativity. this is a huge improvement on the earlier scheme.

(albeit there are still huge question marks over scale/ LB process etc)
#8 Posted by Fraser on 1 May 2019 at 07:32 AM
Contextual or not, the quality of design here is far below what we should be expecting for a city centre site. A city centre site where some fine buildomgs will be demolished no-less. From what I can see - Very little as the images are all curiously not showing the whole thing- the proposal has little street presence apart form it's large size. Adding cheap stone rain-screen and making a vague attempt at "rhythm" is not contextual or supporting the quality architecture needed in this part of the city, it is just laziness.
#9 Posted by Elmo on 1 May 2019 at 09:01 AM
Its that good you can see the sea from the roof terrace!! ;)
St Mongo
#10 Posted by St Mongo on 1 May 2019 at 22:36 PM
Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man..
Divantha Ekanayake
#11 Posted by Divantha Ekanayake on 30 Sep 2020 at 10:17 AM
I'm not from Glasgow, but I like their sensitivity to the existing urban architectural context. New buildings should somewhat fit into the urban environment, in order to preserve and enhance the beauty of the city. Most architects design 'radical looking' buildings that stand out, in order to leave their signature and to make their name more famous. But it's architect's duty to contribute to the esthetics of the surroundings, rather than standing out.

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