Glasgow Interior Design School of Design

Emese Stork (she/her)

I like pushing the boundaries of the interior design
profession toward place-making rather than space making.
This means that I preferably put my primary focus on the
typology and the project goals instead of on its physicality
because if the theoretical foundation is not established well
the whole project could fail in generating social change.

Can a luxurious hotel or highstreets fashion retail project be
sustainable? I would say no, it can’t be. Even if you manage to
create a sustainable project in its materiality, success is
not guaranteed because the goal must also be sustainable.

Project Summary
The Site
Exhibition Intro

Project Summary

Western rituals have been colonised by consumer culture, and the decolonisation could be an essential step toward the needed attitude change for a sustainability shift. But instead of affecting the conscience, again and again, the project gives a practical example of how a sustainability shift without overused sustainability commonplaces could mean the next level in increasing the overall happiness, satisfaction and mental health by drawing the attention of people on their psychological needs and emotional aspects of their rites.  Because in consumerism, people’s primary strategy for meeting psychological needs is still consumption. But satisfying these needs with the same strategy we satisfied the basic needs in the first world is ineffective. So, a more sustainable approach on rituals would mean development in the general human well-being.

Therefore, the Museum of Ritual Life has a strong psychological approach to rituals rather than an anthropological one. It intends to guide people on the journey where they can build awareness of their emotional needs.


Rituals are reinforced and deep-rooted. Traditions as the connection with the past are determining rituals. Therefore, it is not easy to form them as part of the common culture, while in an individual’s life, rituals are much more flexible, more resilient and works like a tangible tool to look at ourselves. As a therapeutic tool, it can help us design our own lives and process our traumas. This is the power and importance of rituals. If we learned to observe our rituals, we could be more aware of our lives. And awareness is a skill. If we develop it against something, it affects other aspects of our lives. If we are more aware in rituals, we can use this skill to understand our relationships, decisions, social role, and politics. We can learn to see whether and how a political and economic system serves and does not serve our happiness. If I can learn anything from my dissertation about the impact of the consumer revolution on wedding rituals, then the point is that economic changes are intertwined with cultural changes. And the reason why the consumer revolution has been so successful is that, in addition to being ideologically convinced of the beneficial effects of consumption on society, people have quickly and simply experienced its benefits in their personal lives. Inevitably more of their basic needs were satisfied than ever in the past. The sustainability transition can only become mainstream if people can feel in their bones that the change will lead to real quality improvement in their lives.

And if in the upcoming decades, humanity would be forced to produce fewer consumer goods anyway, because it either chooses so by its own will or because the ecological and social framework of human life does not allow it anymore, then a society, where consumption is still the primary source of joy, is doomed to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. So, cultural change is an inevitable coping strategy. The question is whether we take the step voluntarily or by force.

The Site

From a spatial point of view, the accessibility of the site, the underground building’s design challenges and the local community and cultural ecosystem posed the most significant challenges. The museum is located in a former railway tunnel and station under the Glasgow Botanic Gardens. Although MoRaL is a separate initiative, the museum and the park share the same body as Siamese twins. Therefore, I always kept asking what the museum could give to the park as compensation for violating their tranquillity and normal operation by the construction.

Great Western Road entrance

As an underground place, the limited visibility that the entrances provide makes these decisions even more critical. These are the primary communication channel about the identity of the place. This is why I’ve chosen a statue as an astonishing design element. Statues have a special role within the museum, and it also expresses the human-centric theme of the museum.

Great Western Road reception

Because this is an underground building, the interior and the exterior is even more separated than usually, but I still wanted to establish a connection and provide visibility. The glass wall makes the illusion that the building is on the ground while the peeling-off roof directs the gaze down to the actual museum’s level.

Ford Road entrance

The new façade and the built-in courtyard evoke neo-brutalist features. I aimed to radiate strength, stability and durability, as this is an initiative with national significance. What is more, a museum is a kind of sanctuary of civilization. The peel-off design element with some modification appears on this entrance as well. Thus, the two entrances refer back to each other aesthetically. While the Great Western Road entrance provides transparency, this entrance represents more of a kind of mysticism. The conflicting qualities reflect on the interior’s characteristics.

Ford Road entrance bird view

The most neglected part of the park is at the former Kirklee station remnants, and it’s completely fenced now as it is unsafe. By the significant construction, this area could be part of the Gardens again.

Elevated entrance

The Ford Road entrance has two floors. Emergency exits are hidden under the museum entrance. On the one hand, this has aesthetic advantages, and on the other hand, the raised entrance is particularly beneficial in an underground facility. People have a natural frustration with underground structures. It can take the form of either excitement or fear. Excitement can enhance the mystique of the entrance, while fear can be resolved by the illusion that the entrance is being lifted, so people move upwards while they are going underground into a 200 meters long tunnel without direct sunlight.

Ventilation window water feature

The whole tunnel with the ventilation window is just a sad remnant of the past right now. But these voids could be suitable to create a water feature in it which could enrich the experience of the park visitors by an extra scenic picnic place.

Water feature from the inside

After the deprivation of the exhibition area, the station is all about social interaction, breathing, presence, feeling and perception. It is where the workshops take place. The open plan layout provides transparency, let the light in every room and corner. The rooms on each site are balancing between isolation and connection, privacy and publicness. Besides the social connectivity, establishing the connection with the Botanic Gardens was an important aspect within the interior through the aesthetic choices. Inviting water, plants and ground into space makes a calming atmosphere.

Horizontal and vertical divisions

The total inner height of the tunnel, by a horizontal division, allows creating a safety and service corridor with a separate ventilation system. For building engineering, I set aside extra space at the bottom of the tunnel. Inside the tunnel, separated escape corridors lead down a ramp with a gentle slope to the service corridor, where a direct exit opens to the surface. The whole tunnel with the safety corridor is fully accessible.

Emergency exit ramp

The corridor going down to the basement with the 50 m long ramp is a safe space and separated by a fire-rated wall from the museum level. The corridor is 1.5 m wide at the flooring, and with the curved wall, it should be suitable for one-direction traffic. This corridor shouldn’t be a neglected part of the design. In case of an emergency in an underground tunnel, the psychical stress on the people is expected to be larger than usual. Hopefully, the unique aesthetics of the architecture and the lighting can counteract the feeling of closure for that 1 minute when a person takes that 50 meters.

Exhibition Intro

I set up an example exhibition as part of my project to demonstrate the psychological approach of the Museum of Ritual Life.  The exhibition is showing different inherited and developed personal ritual styles. By browsing the ritual stories and answering the questions provided for each story, you can figure out your own style or styles.

“Reflecting on Your Ritual Style

Whether the ritual style in your life now is minimized, interrupted, rigid, obligatory, imbalanced, or flexible, or some combination of these styles across various categories of rituals, you can examine your rituals and determine if they are meeting your relationship needs, or whether you want to try changing some of the patterns. A good starting place is to reflect on the rituals in your family-of-origin, and then compare these to your current rituals.”


The content of the exhibition is based on: Evan Imber-Black, PhD. and Janine Roberts, EdD, Your family heritage - understand your ritual style, Rituals for Our Times, (New York: Harper Perennial, 1993) p. 57-75.


How many of us were bored in a museum at least once in their lifetime? There is a problem with museums if these are not related to our lives. The museum is not an archive whose role is collecting and preserving the heritage. The museum should communicate as well this heritage, establish a clear connection between the past and the present, the society and individuals, and let people benefit from it. Just as in formal education, it is not enough to give knowledge, but make the experience of knowing things.

As Mihály Csikszentmihályi said, it’s a never-ending process of experimenting new and deeper levels of understanding:

“If you are interested in something you will focus on it, and if you focus attention on anything, it is likely that you will become interested in it.”

The facilities within the museum have been selected to support flow experience and encourage revisits both online and offline. The museum’s theme is approached from various aspects that require multiple engagement levels to increase the chance that every visitor finds something for themselves while the facilities overall create a comprehensive experience.