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Cast-iron support sought for Egyptian Halls slavery museum

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June 16 2020

Cast-iron support sought for Egyptian Halls slavery museum
Two leading contenders have emerged in a competition led by the Alexander Thomson Society (ATS) to find creative reuses for Glasgow's Egyptian Halls.
 
A panel of judges selected the 'Temple of Thought' as their preferred solution for the decaying landmark while a parallel public vote saw a 'Museum of Slavery' emerge as the lead contender. This latter option has found traction from the leader of Glasgow City Council down with Susan Aitken reiterating the council's support for either a standalone museum or a permanent exhibition dedicated to slavery and empire.
 
Slotting into this ambition the Egyptian Halls work is designed to commemorate and educate people on the 3.5m people estimated to have been bought and sold as slaves in Britain prior to the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act.
 
Concept plans would see shop units vacate the ground floor to accommodate a ground floor exhibition hall. Hanging above visitors heads four 'monumental' memorial towers would be suspended from a new cast iron glazed roof, acting as a constant presence and reminder throughout the building.
 
Explaining the approach behind his entry Gavin Fraser wrote: "To respect and retain the character of the existing building and its unique design, all interior additions are based upon an unsung hero of Thomson's work - the cast-iron frame. In the interior I have taken the cast-iron frame, simplified its representation, scaled it and applied it to all fixtures and fittings; stairs, partitions, exhibition stands, seating and planting."
 
In a statement, Scott Abercrombie, director of the Alexander Thomson Society, told Urban Realm: "We think that this is a timely and potentially fundable solution, but the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) has been leading this campaign for over a decade and we don’t want to step on their toes. We hope that we can work with CRER to explore whether using Egyptian Halls as a home for their museum would be viable and are delighted to hear the initially positive comments that Zandra Yeaman gave us for our article, as well as those from the public over the weekend who think this is a great opportunity to both confront Glasgow’s history and protect its heritage."
 
The Temple of Thought contender meanwhile picks up on Egyptian motifs while providing a space for quiet contemplation with a library, galleries and exhibition halls. The judging panel included Robin Webster, RIAS; Mark Baines, ATS; Isabel Garriga, Glasgow Institute of Architects and Susan O’Connor of the Scottish Civic Trust.
A reinforced roof will be necessary to support the impressive structure
A reinforced roof will be necessary to support the impressive structure
Four enormous gravity-defying memorial towers would dominate the interior
Four enormous gravity-defying memorial towers would dominate the interior

Interiors would be more akin to an Ancient Egyptian tomb in this entry devised by two entrants from St Petersburg, Russia
Interiors would be more akin to an Ancient Egyptian tomb in this entry devised by two entrants from St Petersburg, Russia
The Temple of Thought won over judges with a more reserved approach
The Temple of Thought won over judges with a more reserved approach

11 Comments

Dave
#1 Posted by Dave on 16 Jun 2020 at 10:32 AM
Remember the last architectural competiton when Glasgow had a panel of expert judges vs the Council (albeit one particular politician)... the square is still a mess
Alex
#2 Posted by Alex on 16 Jun 2020 at 11:28 AM
What a great idea - celebrate the cast iron structure of the Egyptian Halls, secure a positive reuse of this internationally important building from Glasgow's time as second city of the British Empire and house a gallery to tackle the ongoing evil of slavery.
Robin B's Discount
#3 Posted by Robin B's Discount on 16 Jun 2020 at 14:09 PM
There's probably one or two stumbling blocks in this. The main one being someone else owns the building. Until that is resolved they might as well run architectural competitions on alternative creative uses for the Pyramids.
Hunter
#4 Posted by Hunter on 16 Jun 2020 at 21:15 PM
#2 Derek lad, don't make it so obvious....
Derek Souter
#5 Posted by Derek Souter on 17 Jun 2020 at 07:27 AM
Morning - Hunter, not my comment. Instead I'll let you read the following and you can conjecture how this never happened;

"The Council did the right thing and started compulsory purchase proceedings against the delinquent owners of the Upper Floors. "Now after legal wrangles majority ownership has been acquired by Dundee Developer Derek Souter who has commissioned an admirable conservation report from good architects and structural engineers. The resulting proposals for a conservative restoration of the whole structure including the remarkable iron framed interior – has won backing from Historic Scotland". Private Eye’s - Piloti (ergo Professor Gavin Stamp) - Year 2000



Here we go...
#6 Posted by Here we go... on 17 Jun 2020 at 09:00 AM
Here we goooooo...
KLD
#7 Posted by KLD on 17 Jun 2020 at 09:19 AM
Not sure why we are looking for "creative reuses". What's needed is something that is practical, fundable, and deliverable.

Blue sky thinking has its place, but it needs to be grounded in reality.
Peter
#8 Posted by Peter on 17 Jun 2020 at 12:50 PM
Oh, it's this time of the year again. Carry on, just got my popcorn ready.
Billy
#9 Posted by Billy on 17 Jun 2020 at 15:01 PM
I am starting to lose patience. ... between this site , George Square and the site in the Candleriggs. Not even snail pace. What is wrong with this City?
Robin B's Discount
#10 Posted by Robin B's Discount on 17 Jun 2020 at 15:32 PM
Billy - the planners are dreadfully difficult to deal with in this fine city.

The public generally oppose the idea of any new development; yet moan about the lack of progress.

Such a weird place.
Rhodgers
#11 Posted by Rhodgers on 19 Jun 2020 at 10:29 AM
I think the museum of slavery concept really compliments the building. Ancient Egypt and Cast Iron shackles share connotations of slavery, and I think here they hang together rather well.

Ownership and funding issues aside.

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