The Reid Building provides the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) with excellent new teaching and studio facilities in a high quality environment to inspire creative education, and research, in the visual disciplines of the 21st century. The project won the 2014 Lux Award for the Education & Healthcare Project of the Year.
Glasgow School of Art’s specification was for a building to provide excellent new teaching and studio facilities in a high quality environment. The aim was to inspire creative education and research in the visual disciplines of the 21st century. It was essential the building united schools, which were widely dispersed, into one efficient and sustainable location.
Designing the Reid Building was a daunting challenge as it directly faces the successful GSA Mackintosh Building, which was voted architects’ favourite building of the past 200 years. Arup successfully delivered the project to GSA’s satisfaction while working within strict budget and space restrictions.
A sustainable building
When designing the building Arup had several technical challenges to overcome including large overhangs, complex geometries and a deep basement.
This BREEAM excellent building uses 20% less carbon than building regulations require. In addition it has decarbonised the wider campus’ heating, including the Mackintosh Building, by adopting a biomass district heating network.
Careful engineering, technical expertise and a pragmatic approach ensured the delivery of this holistic design, producing an effective creative facility for the GSA and a worthy neighbour for the prestigious Mackintosh Building.
The architecture of the Reid Building is brought to life through an exposed structure, a sculptural form of perforated inclined tubes and planes intersected by an Escher-like stair. Moving through the space you see through and between the studios. This purposeful introduction of creative abrasion was designed to encourage different parts of the school to work together and ultimately provide a more coherent learning environment.
… a design strategy that has been driven forward with a mixture of poetics and ruthless pragmatics: qualities that are singularly appropriate in this context, and developed with an artistry and skill. ” Professor David Porter Head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture
The driven void concept was developed as a way for the dense, deep-plan studios to breathe. The voids and the narrow atrium create a ribbon of circulation, forming a route for air to circulate around the building. The voids act as chimneys, drawing fresh air through the studios from opening windows at the perimeter to windows at the top.
Driven voids of light act monolithically with the wall lines, with each uniquely defined and cut, to deliver extensive overhangs to the south façade. The overhangs, combined with the inclination of the voids, promote a significant gravity slew, inclining the building towards the Mackintosh.
The combination of concrete geometry and natural light provides a permeated series of interconnected spaces. The structural design was the linchpin underlying this holistic approach. Extensive coordination of design and construction process was required with all parties, the digital modelling interfaces used by the entire project team facilitated this process.
Daylighting studies enabled the finished building’s sculpted concrete interior to use natural light to enhance studio and workshop spaces. Large inclined north-facing glazing maximises light, creating an inspiring work environment. Electric lighting complements the architecture through a sleek aesthetic focused on specific spaces, such as the windows towards the Mackintosh.
A 3-D acoustic model was developed and used to create auralisations of the proposed ribbon of circulation and adjoining spaces. To present the auralisations to the School, Arup used SoundLab, built within an acoustically insulated room. Through experiencing the auralisations in SoundLab GSA and Arup determined the design benchmarks – striking a balance between creative acoustic vibrancy and local acoustic needs.