Glasgow Mackintosh School of Architecture MSA Stage 3

Sofia Mangialardo

In my practice, I aim to use architecture as a tool of social inclusion, finding ways to always ensure full accessibility, providing the same opportunities for every user.

The main inspirations in my work are Jane Jacobs and Kate Macintosh. Inspired by their works, I have focused on the idea of circulation as a vital element in architecture, exploring how it plays a crucial role in the achievement of inclusion. Starting from the analysis of the site, I attempt to respect its fabric, carefully observing how it is woven into its wider context. In this year’s project I have embraced the vibrance and the vitality of the site, encouraging it by creating spaces that may always be useable by the community in different ways.The design in the retreat building followed Macintosh’s idea of a walkway as a “stream of water, with spaces for little eddies to occur off the stream”, from which the main spaces are carved out.




Section of the Retreat and the Performance Hall
Pathways (Elevation 1:100)
A Mezzanine For a Sculptor
Row Houses: Establishing Diversity
A musical retreat in Balloch, for the kids of Big Noise Govanhill

Section of the Retreat and the Performance Hall

By carefully inserting particular details, this section really shows how the buildings are inhabited, clarifying the space’s functions. The ascension from the level of the water to the top of the hill is very clear in the retreat, where the ramp system follows the hill’s verticality.

1-100 Full Section - Balloch Cropped

Pathways (Elevation 1:100)

The performance hall’s path gradually descends to the ground level, continuing down the hill until it reaches the water level. In this drawing, this vertical journey is represented by a red ribbon, which emphasises on the connection between the water and the buildings.

As you arrive to Balloch, and you stumble across this site while looking for your way to explore the Loch, this is what you would see. The way the buildings’ elevations create a gap in between direct the viewer in this direction, as they may be drawn to follow this path.

Elevation from Bridge(jpg)

A Mezzanine For a Sculptor

To extend his work space, sculptor Domenico Borrelli and I designed a self-build mezzanine. This project’s challenge consisted in the practicality of the mezzanine. Firstly, it was to be easily constructed, therefore the structure was to be simple and quickly assembled. Moreover, the client’s needs were carefully considered, for instance, the hand rail is foldable, allowing a forklift to raise up to the mezzanine to bring sculptures and materials for the artist to work on.

Sculptor's Studio

Row Houses: Establishing Diversity

Portfolio copia

A musical retreat in Balloch, for the kids of Big Noise Govanhill

Inspired by the main feature of the site as a dynamic crossway of different paths, the proposed buildings reclaim the concept of a node as a way of bringing people together. By finding ways of creating nodes through the buildings’ circulation, I aimed to achieve two of Big Noise’s (the client) main principles: boosting community engagement and creating a 0% exclusion policy. Inspired by the traditional mountain shelters in the Alps ‘rifugio’, the buildings together frame the main crossway of the site, enhancing the threshold from town to nature and creating a core from which the children can explore the loch’s main attractions.

In the retreat, the ‘node’ is reclaimed within the interior circulation, a journey which encourages social engagement and inclusion whilst replicating the hill’s topography. A snaking path crosses the whole volume following the hill’s contours, allowing the kids to always encounter each other in the canteen or the play area. The journey replicates the walk up the hill, with turning points which change the perspective from the loch to the interior busier areas. Starting from the public and louder spaces at the bottom, by climbing up the ramps the users access the quieter areas, creating a vertical ascension from private to public.

The performance hall, completes the site by reclaiming a carpark and completing the topography of the hill. It is carefully placed  so that it does not disrupt the current paths and uses of the site (people sitting on the hill, the cafe at the entrance of the site, Sweeney’s Cruises), embracing the space to create a sort of piazza. The side facing the path is a flexible space, involving moving walls, which allow the space to be used as a practice or conference space when open, and eventually, it can be divided into four smaller rooms, which face the street as temporary shops or installments.

Ramp Diagram-min

Thread Map

As the term Balloch defines in its Gaelic meaning of "passage", the site conveys a knot in which all the paths come together. This way, the buildings act as starting points, from which the kids have direct access to the main attractions of the Loch.

View from the bridge

An evening before a performance, when all the audience starts to gather in front of the music hall. The illustration shows how the music hall lights up, becoming a sort of beacon. When analysing the site, I realised Balloch is a passageway also as it is not a well defined space in itself, lacking of an iconic symbol or a monument. This building aims to claim such role, becoming the main attraction for the community, whilst acting as a passageway itself.


The plans clearly show the verticality of the buildings and the circulation's main connectors, ascending in verticality. Whilst designing the plans, I broke down the wider spaces, trying to create more comforting corners, with an unclear boundary between the private and the public.

Journeys through the site

From the first analysis of the site, the idea of the passage was observed in people crossing this space trying to reach another clearer destination. This determined an indefinition of this site, and its dynamic flow reflected in the waves of the river Leven.