Glasgow Mackintosh School of Architecture MSA Stage 5

Rihards Saknītis

re-made nature
design for natural systems
collaborative Glasgow

re-made nature

Natural resources are drawn from environments aggressively and with disregard toward the damage
inflicted on these environments. These resources and the resulting manufactured objects are distributed
inequitably between different parts of society. This creates a context of environmental and social unsustainability.
Construction and architecture are a significant part of this problem polluting the environment
and working directly with only a small part of the society. The thesis is an architectural exploration into
sustainable and democratic space and construction utilising contemporary technology, craft and making.

Can architecture reduce its environmental impact by utilising efficient digital fabrication methods and timber
construction? Can such technologies and design achieve frameworks that enable user participation?

The thesis response to these questions is examined through a building and landscape design—a canalside
site developed to house a craftsmanship and education, design and production programme. The architectural
exploration aims to create public, open spaces through the technological language of digital fabrication
in timber. The flexibility of space is designed through a change of scale, thresholds and adaptability,
to provide specific and continuously meaningful experience and use.

A crafted relationship between the human and the natural that respects, cares for one and another—
architecture that is sustainable alongside nature and for individuals.

Shared Knowledge - Connected City

Nature First - Built and Natural

Site Location - Glasgow, Temple

Project Site - Past Sawmills

Project Site Extended - Dawsholm Park

Project Site - Sawmills Offices

Project Site - Forth and Clyde Canal

Site Plan

Aerial View

Ground Floor Plan

Key Section

Robotics Lab

Crow Road Approach

Canal Approach


Interior View

North Elevation

South Elevation

Key Section

Detail Elevations

design for natural systems

Labour and Domesticity are interlinked, they are the two ends on a scale of our lives. Our labour does not directly respond to our domestic lives and we are seeing the failure of this system. We live dependent on natural resource; however, our productive activity and domestic lifestyle do not return what we take from the natural environment. We need to live in natural systems. To design for natural systems is to allow nature in the city, to learn from its function and to incorporate it into our lifestyles.

The design strives conceptual biomimicry from the self-sufficient masterplan to nature-first and resourceful approach to the block, to the tailored-to-lifestyle cell design. The building expresses a paradigm shift in its context. The design aims to create a more sustainable living environment and to reduce the building’s impact on its wider context. The design incorporates an urban farm into its programme to offset the land use and energy consumption of food production. The public programme of the building is aimed at repair, recycling, and responsible consumption. The building incorporates workshops for repair, laboratories for study and independent stores and community halls to aid circular economy in the area.

Exterior Visual

Site Location - Merchant City

Ground Floor Plan

Third Floor Plan

Seventh Floor Plan

Interior Model

Masterplan Model

Structural Model

collaborative Glasgow

The project is a collaborative design, production, and performance institution.

A successful city and sustainable life in a city exist in the exchange and resonance
of different financial, cultural, political, and other characteristics. The same way
a successful society might exist in the exchange and resonance of its internal

The design aims to celebrate and articulate the different cultures in society,
through collaborative approaches to creating and performing. The building
will house one of the most collaborative forms of musical performance:
choir; and support the performance with spaces for design, production, and
exhibition. Choir performance will be used to transform dissonance in society to
understanding and resonance.

A parallel conceptual thread of natural systems in the city is employed in the
design, as in the current environmental context humans cannot exist in denial of
natural realities and problems, and what impact on the environment the city can

Exterior View

Key Section

Performance Space Sketch

Detail Model

Site Model

Axonometric Exterior and Structure

Elevation Detail