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Glasgow Architecture Editorial Spring 2003

RIAS Award for Architecture + Carnyx Group’s Scottish Design Awards

Editorial Spring 2003

Scottish Architecture Awards are again in the news with submissions sought for the RIAS Award for Architecture and the Carnyx Group’s Scottish Design Awards judged and ready for announcement. A year on, critics tepid reception for the former will be reassessed, but although a lot has been built in the last year, there are few stunners. The Awards are both funded privately, the RIAS Awards by the late Andrew Doolan, and the Scottish Design Awards by the Carnyx Group.

However, the newly-completed Westport Building – described in the AJ of 24.04.03 as ‘good ordinary’ and thus not a traditional ‘stunner’ – is a building that asks questions about possible directions in Scottish architecture. This building is taut and intelligent. It turns the corner with agile rotations and steps down the hill with great poise. The elevations are sophisticated and strongly articulated due to the deep step backs to the windows from the outer stone framework. Movement is provided by irregularly-placed rectangular louvre panels, and subtle shifts in the perimeter plan. The materials – stone, stainless steel – are precisely detailed.

With the ‘arrival’ in Scotland of Zaha Hadid, David Chipperfield, Foster & Partners, Toyo Ito, Richard Rogers and Frank Gehry, our architecture awards will become more star-studded, but not necessarilyhomegrown.

The RIAS Conference is again upon us and they are calling for the RFACS to be the promoter of quality contemporary architecture in Scotland, a la CABE in England. I feel it’s unarguable that RFACS get involved too late in Planning decisions due to financial restrictions: I fully support CABE expanding to Scotland and have pushed for this over the last year. A debate about this multi-faceted issue and the relationships between the many bodies promoting Scottish architecture and architects would be usefully slotted into the talks by Norway’s road designers!

Seriously, the range of speakers this year is excellent and has a strong Norwegian slant. Maybe next year we should invite our closer neighbours, not from England as they tend to be there anyway, but from Ireland. I found Arni Winthers talk profoundly interesting last year, not due to the architecture per se – which was a little ordinary at times – but because here was an architect from a similar country to ours but with totally different building and architectural ‘habits’.

The interiors is now online and profiles quality Scottish interiors elements such as furniture, lighting and fabrics: more Scottish suppliers, designers and manufacturers are welcome to join the Design Profiles. The Edinburgh and Glasgow links pages have been rearranged with a new vastly extended shared page for Scotland, UK and Global links: this forms the most extensive global architectural links information in Scotland, and one of the best in the World. Different formats suit different needs, I hope the links page will be your starting point, unlike Death by Architecture or, it’s hierarchy begins with the most used links, ie our own Scottish sites.
The website continues its involvement with the Old Town Fire Ideas Competition following a talk, the judging and Press Conference: the exhibition at the University has now moved to the RIAS where it will stay for over a month. I feel slightly embarrassed at its continuing high profile in the media, when I was approached to jointly run it I imagined a quick breath of fresh air amid the polarisation prevalent at the time; however, I do continue to sanction the idea of getting results of students’ engagement with our city into the public realm and encouraging aspiration for our city’s spaces and places, from public and the profession alike.

The Lighthouse Innovation Fund Playwall in Haddington is on site and is another reminder to me of how doctrinaire approaches stifle creativity, bizarre safety requests courtesy of European regulations that don’t appear in the new playground my kids loved in Copenhagen or the one I can see from my Dining Room.

The existing Edinburgh homepage sponsorships are continuing: see business proposal for how the homepage or any other pages can be sponsored.

For current year’s Scottish Architecture Awards see site’s news pages.

Spring 2003

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