Govan Building, Water Row, Community Engagement Glasgow Architecture Project
The Ghost of Water Row
Community Engagement Project in Govan, Glasgow design by Edo architecture
26 Mar 2013
Location: Govan, Glasgow
Design: Edo architecture
‘The Ghost of Water Row’ Project
The Ghost of Water Row – A community Engagement Project
Water Row has always sat at the heart of Govan. But its missing.
Its a route to a crossing over the river and the reason Govan exists.
Since pre Christian times, there have been successive layers of crossing & inhabitation here.
All have their stories … all have their Ghosts.
The Ghost of Water Row was a fleeting pavilion designed to appear in the dark and disappear again by day light.
Built in Pale Scottish Spruce – The ghost is a careful distillation of four buildings that sat to the west of the now buried Slipway at water Row.
Its not a direct copy of the Ferry Inn, but it sat for one night on its footprint.
The Inn and the Weavers Cottages sat there from 1700 – 1912 and the ghost wanted to say something about that in the face of development pressure and times of change.
The shuttles of Govan’s Hand Loom Weavers stopped flying in early 1900 to make way for shipbuilding.
On the 5th of November 1912 Govan was subsumed by the city of Glasgow and much of its independence went with it.
Following attendance during GI Festival at a community based project called “Nothing About Us Without Us is For Us” and in the year that saw the passing of George Wylie GW we were driven to conjure something.
The date was obvious – 100 years since Govan lost its independence.
So we self made the Skeleton in our studio garden.
On appearing we wrapped the exterior in Geotextile to honour other paper installations by GW.
The pattern of the lace that forms the interior of the Ghost was taken from Flemish trade on this river and at this spot.
Jenni Loof helped us create the lace panels from material given in kind by MYB textiles, a firm that picked up the mechanized looming mantel in 1912 just as the hand looming came to an end in Govan.
Its name is “Guirlandes” or Garlands, a traditional symbol of honour.
The ghost wanted to honour all those weavers whose story remained untold.
On that very night we hosted a lantern procession for 100 visitors. Eileen Reid led 100 people behind a question mark made by George Wylie from “Govan Old” church to the ghost and there used the ghost as a Heritage engagement tool.
The procession included for demarking the slipway and giving a sense of the ancient route to the river and the crossing.
The fleeting pavilion allowed people to pause and discuss human inhabitation at water Row.
The building as a lantern or sentinel was a statement about community requests for a voice in a changing landscape.
There was no budget, only material and labour in kind. Built form untreated Scottish Spruce and wrapped in Geotextile it filtered the Scottish weather to a fitting degree.
The Ghost reappeared in the church Yard of Govan Old on the 14th February to highlight a new project called Weaving Truth with Trust. WTWT. It raised specific issues about the missing weavers whose grave stones were illuminated.
WT WT takes place throughout 2013 and culminates with a piece of textile work related to weaving that will hang inside Rowan Andersons Govan Old. The ghost helped kick this project off.
In the 2 appearances so far Its presence raised a George Wylie Question mark about the future of Govans Heritage.
The ghost will reappear again throughout this year.
The Ghost of Water Row – Govan
The skeleton of the Ghost required to be light and transportable
The timber had to be from a sustainable resource in Scotland
The wood had to be pale
The skeleton had to register its shadow on the textile wrap to be applied to the exterior and the interior of the building.
It had to be commodious in the way the stone and timber buildings it spoke for, were.
We were given the basic sections of 4 inch x 2 Inch untreated Scottish Spruce by BSW timber.
In our studio garden we screwed and plated it together using our own hands and labour in kind.
We made the frame in transportable components to allow for flat packing and quick hand assembly with minimal tooling.
The frame was designed so that the whole Building could be lifted in one piece and dropped into relevant settings quickly in the dark.
The use of this timber with its qualities allowed the frame to be only what it required to be.
The simple construction techniques and use of Pale Scottish Spruce did something to speak for the year of celebration of George Wylie’s craft and comment.
When done it can fall back to nature with no carbon footprint.
Wood added some poignancy to its fleeting nature.
The Ghost of Water Row images / information from Andy McAvoy at Edo architecture
Govan Primary School
photo : Keith Hunter
Glasgow Transport Museum
picture from architect
Glasgow School of Art
photo © Adrian Welch
photo © Isabelle Lomholt
Historic Glasgow: best buildings of the past
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