Glasgow Mackintosh School of Architecture MSA Stage 3

Thomas Whiting (He/Him)

I am a RIBA Part1 architectural assistant and designer based in Glasgow. My work is centred on understanding what an architecture is for the climate crisis. This exploration is typified in my third year project which looked to use waste straw bales to re-invent the thick castle walls of Scotland for a musical retreat in Balloch.

My work is also largely process driven and often involves collaborations. Through my passion for collaboration myself and fellow students at the Glasgow School of Art founded WorkInProgress, a collective think-tank engaging with communities in Glasgow on how to improve the public sphere.

Other completed and ongoing projects include Things, a small publication made in collaboration with graphic designer Marion Bowles, documenting domestic objects we made from found materials over six months in Barcelona; a publication created in collaboration with artists, Fraser Whiting, Leon Scott-Engel, and Rachel Morrison, documenting a series of 24hr solo-shows in the gallery of 40 Fox Street; and running 90 Munros in 60days in the Scottish Highlands.

A Musical Retreat and Performance Hall for Balloch

A Musical Retreat and Performance Hall for Balloch

An exercise in folding and unfolding.

On the southern shores of Loch Lomond, thick, heavy walls fold and wrap to create two distinct buildings atop a small mound. They reference the heritage and context of Scottish castles in rural landscapes with thick walls, splayed windows and a direct pragmatic response to the surrounding site.
The residential building has thick straw bale walls for the children to inhabit, regardless of where they are from and their living situations they all have the a room of their own. A public courtyard connects the residential to the performance hall, and serves as a transition space from the public to the private.
The performance hall is enveloped by a wall of service and circulation space, which it intersects at one point to offer views of the surrounding wood and river. Furthering the project’s cultural agenda, the hall is entirely flexible for a variety of performances, not only for the charity, Sistema, but for the people of Balloch.
The project developed from a material-first approach, mapping locally available straw left-over from wheat harvests in the Central Belt and Lower Highlands of Scotland. By using 1.2m thick hyper-bales to create thick walls, the retreat starts to reference historical Scottish castle walls. The historical castle was another jumping off point for the organisation and layout of the two buildings. The buildings respond to the four edges of the site with thick walls and openings to create internal space and frame external space. By unfolding plans of existing castles to extract the wall, and then folding the wall to create spaces and organise “service walls” from “walls of accommodation” two buildings emerged. Both buildings are contextually sensitive; energy efficient with low embodied carbon; and designed in the mind of the end users, as a child would cut and fold paper to discover.

Unfolding to Understand

Axonometric of the buildings folding together.
1:500 Location Plan
1:200 Site Plan
1:200 Site Plan First Floor
Long Section through the residential retreat and performance hall.
Cross-section through the performance hall.
The evening approach from Balloch.
Residential corridor leading to the breakout space with Loch Lomond beyond.
Residential interior courtyard in the afternoon.
Transitioning from the residential to the performance hall by the semi-public courtyard.
The children of Sistema tuning up before their big performance in the performance hall.