Glasgow Mackintosh School of Architecture MSA Stage 5

Tarn-Afeni Zaidi (She/Her)

Tarn is a Diploma and First Class Honours Degree graduate from the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art. During her years of architectural education, she has developed an interest in ethical and sustainable architecture that remains contextually conscious to its surroundings. She is inspired by the intimate connections between people and place and creating solutions to contemporary social and environmental challenges. Her projects focus primarily on the city of Glasgow, but she also has a passion and intrigue that stretches to the wider context of Scotland in both rural and urban settings.

Artists in Residence
The Acropolis of New Industrial Education

Artists in Residence

This project bridges the fragmented gap between social divisions and the young and old within Merchant City by introducing transformative, mutable spaces for knowledge exchanges. Strengthening the social and civic infrastructure and maintaining a cultural and contextual link to the existing urban fabric were key components within the design. The idea of learning through making is key to bridging this gap. Passing skills to future generations in a more personal setting by inviting someone into your own private studio provides a more intimate learning experience, allowing others to enjoy your craft. The city is renowned for its art and culture scene; the idea of combining education as a form of public and private labour, coupled with domesticity, arose from the study into urban demographics, the environment and the national and international importance of Glasgow.

Whilst introducing a more permanent function to Merchant City, the temporal nature will not be ignored. Artists are able to rent the residential units, making use of the shared labour spaces which accommodate a variety of crafts. During their stay, a shared social and learning experience can take place between the residents and artists. Many studios already exist in the east end and south side of Glasgow, but not necessarily in the heart of the city. Proposing a building with significance and of a permanent stature externally but transient interior best describes Merchant City as a district. Residential units with a more permanent function also feature as part of the masterplan, creating a varied and active district, day and night.

The proposed building with its brick and arched façades sit well within its context, even with a seemingly institutional appearance at first, it is intended to be a permanent structure, changing periodically internally. The proposal reclaims the aesthetic of a building which is otherwise formal and controlled – this residential artists block is for the people.

Masterplan in Context

Scale 1:2500

A Collective Library

Spaces of knowledge exchange between residents and the public.

A Shared Culinary Education

A place for gathering and shared social experiences, the kitchen becomes the heart of the multigenerational residential building.

A Reflective Sanctuary

Private balcony spaces overlook Merchant City and are shared with neighbours.

Residential Unit for a Single Occupant

The module can be repeated to form larger family units. The kitchen has been removed and instead becomes a place of social gathering and learning within the heart of the building. Inhabited walls and thick floors allow for storage and divisions of space.

Ground Floor Plan in Context - Scale 1:500

This plan focuses on the commercial aspects of the design, comprising an exhibition space, workshop and various units hosting cafes and yoga studios. Parks and colonnades subtly divide the public realm spaces. A monument can be seen from afar, placed centrally within the masterplan, acting as a beacon and a viewing platform across the city. The other residential blocks are for multigenerational purposes, for those in the community who wish to have a more permanent rather than transient residence.

First Floor Plan in Context - Scale 1:500

Central cores interchange on each level to form circulation spaces as well as a shared kitchen or a communal library. Light and Heavy labour feature on each wing respectively, with direct access to the workshops and exhibition spaces below.

Long Section

Scale 1:500

Labour and Domesticity Intersect within the Building

The library features a double-height space, allowing light to filter into the deep plan of the building. The communal kitchen also forms the core of the building. As well as the Light and Heavy labour wings, a painting studio takes place on the rooftop - a space often neglected within cities.

The Acropolis of New Industrial Education

This thesis aims to respond to two juxtaposing ideas that are present within the city; former historic industrial districts, with a now forgotten identity and unoccupied vacant land, and Glasgow’s current ethical and sustainability ambitions, which are recognised both nationally and internationally. Reflection and research emerged as two key ideas, defining two distinct buildings of education.

Historical analysis and empirical data formed the primary methodology and research, coupled with contemporary analysis into Scotland’s, and specifically Glasgow’s efforts to tackle the climate crisis. My focus narrowed to Port Dundas, separated from the rest of the city by the M8. This area became a site of intrigue; it was once a dominant figure at the height of industry; however, little remains of its fundamental role other than a few remnants scattered across the landscape. It came as no surprise that deprivation intersected with the loss of industry here, and further research uncovered the alarming statistics of low education rates, fuel poverty and derelict land. This topic became important to me, having grown up in the former mining village of Muirkirk, 43 miles south-east of Glasgow and witnessing first-hand the impacts of that the sudden departure of industry had on its people and environment.

Scotland is fast becoming the testbed for new and exciting sustainable energy and technology solutions – some of which are currently taking place in Glasgow, the city which will proudly host COP26 this year. Glasgow is active in its role tackling the climate crisis, and this realisation became a key element in defining the topics of ethics and sustainability within the thesis.

The proposed buildings and linear parks hope to create spaces of reflection, energy production and contemporary research, offering new opportunities for education and renewable energy solutions to power the buildings themselves and the wider context north of Glasgow. The Building of Research becomes a place of ‘active’ learning through workshops, laboratories, classrooms, an informal lecture space and functioning water tower. The Building of Reflection celebrates industry at varying levels: district, city-wide and nationally. It comprises galleries and exhibition spaces, archives, and libraries – spaces of ‘passive’ learning.

The architectural technology thesis is embedded within the proposal. The linear park will supply ‘Green Heat Energy’ through the use of ground source heat pumps installed underneath the park, re-thinking our vacant land through familiar building and technology strategies, while providing a new park typology and enjoyable green spaces in the city.

Map Analysis at National, City and District Scales

Scotland's band of industry indicated along the central belt; industrial districts that once defined places and communities through labour; Glasgow’s density diminishes towards the north at Port Dundas

The Laboratories

Testing, creating and growing sustainable materials to be used in the studios, classrooms and workshops.

The Exhibition Space

An exhibition space to show reverence to the satellite towns and villages that forged the city of Glasgow.

A Place of Material Reference

A collection of old and new, composite and recycled materials used in the laboratories. This is a place of collective learning for private and public use.

The Archive Workshop

A space for the restoration of important historical artefacts of these lost industrial districts.

A Reflective Sanctuary

Quiet moments to pause by the canal.

1:250 Lower Ground Floor Plan - The Building of Reflection

This main civic space occupies a vacant, post-industrial plot by the canal, where there once stood the Port Dundas Electricity Generating Station. It supplied energy to the north of Glasgow, utilising the Forth and Clyde Canal for cooling purposes and the important transportation of coal and iron ore. Archive rooms are placed methodically to ensure the optimal conditions are maintained, such as facing north away from direct sunlight and excess heat gain. These spaces are placed opposite a particular library room relating to the archived materials. The Paper Archive, protecting books, maps and family trees for example, faces the Social Aspects and Historical Library, where there is a direct intrinsic relationship and function between these spaces. The linear arrangement of the archive and library rooms are connected visually across the courtyard.
1:200 South-Facing Cross Section

1:250 First Floor Plan - The Building of Research

The research facility creates a bridge over the existing canal and basin, linking the main city centre pedestrian routes to the site at Speirs Wharf. This building creates a vista from the northern edges of Port Dundas, being visible from afar, with the functioning water tower acting as a monument within the city. The informal lecture creates an open environment for students as well as members of the public to participate in discussions. The lab spaces continue to experiment with new materials, from recycled, composite to grown organic substances such as mycellium or hemp products. The water tower provides for not only the services within the building, but the adequate supply necessary for the functions of the labs and workshops below. These spaces are placed in accordance with how much water is required for each room, such as the Organic Matter Lab, being placed directly beside the water tower, allowing the water to travel a minimal distance before being used to maintain passive energy strategies throughout the building. The material library is predominantly used by lab technicians and students on this floor.
1:200 East-Facing Cross Section

To Research and Reflect

Final Design Thesis Investigation

The Acropolis of New Industrial Education - Living Fossils: Power, People and Place