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ERINN SAVAGE – Performance
Tomorrow 15:00 GMT

Nithsdale Mission Hall

My community project utilises the former Nithsdale Mission Hall in the Strathbungo/Govanhill area of Glasgow’s Southside. Designed by Alexander Skirving and built for the Queen's Park United Presbyterian Church in 1887-88, it felt like an appropriate choice of site given its history as a supportive community space. However, I also fell in love with the Greek Thomson style architectural details on the building’s exterior façade, as well as the site materiality, which provided lots of exciting inspiration throughout my design development process and ultimately greatly influenced my final design concept. As a result of a fire, the roof and interior were completely destroyed, however this worked to my creative advantage providing me with an empty shell to design within.

Cross section A-A

Sòlas, meaning comfort and happiness in Scots Gaelic, is a space bringing new Scots and the local community together to support one another and celebrate multiculturalism through food, learning and social exchange. The space offers a range of services including English lessons, counselling, a crèche, a multilingual library, book group, study areas, a contemplation space, and a cafe with pop-up multicultural dinners. The structural layout has been deliberately kept open to allow visitors to see the range of activities happening, and navigate around the space with ease. In doing so, I wanted to create a “buzz” within the space in order to create a comfortable, convivial atmosphere.

The Cafe and Welcome Area

Entering the space from street level, you will arrive in the cafe and welcome area. The cafe servery acts as an informal welcome desk to help visitors navigate the space and is therefore strategically placed close to the entrance. The familiar cafe scene should aim to reduce anxieties for new visitors. I have designed several different seating areas to adapt to different user needs and requirements. The curved wooden balustrade aims to soften the space, while the natural tones give a welcoming warmth to the interior, along with the addition of plants and flowers. There are subtle references to the site materiality through the servery design and the wooden balustrade.

The Vertical Multilingual Library

The vertical multilingual library is a central feature in my design, as it is seen from every space in the building. This helps ease navigation through the building, acting as a familiar reference point. I wanted to create an innovative and exciting space to stimulate learning and encourage cultural exchange, with a space designed on the upper level for the book group to meet. The curved stepped seating acts as an informal reading space as well as a pop up event space for talks or meetings. The circular apertures in the library structure are inspired by Skirving’s original trusses (destroyed in 2005 fire), which I have reinstated in my design.

The Contemplation Nook

I designed this contemplation nook where visitors can escape for a moment of quiet contemplation, if feeling overwhelmed. This is a particularly important space in the design for the more vulnerable users of the space who may have just arrived in Glasgow and be feeling anxious. The natural, muted colour palette aims to create a calming, tranquil environment, as does the natural light flooding into the space on either side from the apertures above (see floor plan). Cushions and blankets are also provided for an added layer of comfort.

Cross Section B-B

This section illustrates the various level changes in my design, which subtly differentiate between different zones and activities. Here you can see the ‘floating’ upper floor supported on either side by steel beams, which allowed me to create unique apertures and achieve an interesting relationship between both floors (see floorplans for further clarity). This design feature enables light and sound to flow more naturally through the building, as well as enriching user experience. The wooden wall panelling directly references Skirving’s original drawings as does the ramp which responds to the original sloped floor of the gospel hall.

The Rooftop Dining Space

The rooftop dining space is intended for pop-up community dinners where multiculturalism is celebrated over food and social exchange. It can also act as a private meeting space or extension to the cafe when not in use. This space is an upper extension to the outbuilding on site, which I have connected to the main building via a glazed corridor. The glass roof, with velux windows, allows light to flood in. A variety of plants and flowers have been added to create a colourful, welcoming space.

The Crèche

The crèche is located in the outbuilding, which I converted for this use as a means of noise separation from the main building, as well as for direct access to the outdoor space where the children can play. The design is playful, colourful and inviting with two large bookshelves for story books, games and toys. Not only is this visually pleasing for the young children but it is great for storage. The cut-outs in the bookcase take inspiration from the circular pattern formations found in the roof trusses, and are intended as fun additions to the space for the children to climb through or sit in.

Brickwork Pattern Studies

The analysis of the exterior building’s brickwork formations formed an integral part of my project, informing the development of a series of patterns based on the shapes, colours and textures. These patterns went on to inform elements of my final design including the cafe servery tiling design, the wooden balustrade, aspects of the colour scheme as well as textile designs for curtains and cushions.

Laser Cut MDF

After carrying out pattern studies based on site materiality, I experimented by laser cutting these patterns on MDF to see how they might translate as physical space dividers, while also analysing their relationship with light and shadow. The cafe’s wooden balustrade is directly inspired by these patterns and references the stepped brick detailing on the building’s facade.