Union Yards, Glasgow / by Craig Heap

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In March this year Holmes Miller were invited to produce concepts for one of Glasgow’s key gap sites in the St. Enoch neighbourhood : The King Street Car Park. The Glasgow studio relished the opportunity to explore ideas and started by looking into the history and provenance of this famous location……

The King Street car park was formerly the rail yards for the St.Enoch Station, which closed in 1966. Bounded by the City Union Rail Line to the East, Merchant City to the North, and Briggait to the South – the site is blessed with an engaging and developed context rich in history. Having been used as a car park for the last 3 decades and witnessed several failed development proposals, we sought to reimagine the site as a multi-use development.

Our concept was to provide a new landmark destination - a vibrant mixed-use neighbourhood within the centre of Glasgow. Stitched into the existing fabric of the city, and connecting West to East – the aim was to create an enjoyable and exciting experience to those travelling through its heart, providing places to where people want to dwell and reconnecting the city.

Design Rationale

The north/south oriented blocks are designed with flexibility in mind – they could accommodate either residential or commercial activity as the market dictates, or indeed a mixture of both. The flexibility of their size and form means that not only can they be interchangeable while the design develops, but they are able to be adapted for alternative uses in the future.

The linear wings are sub-dividable with cores serving the multi-level blocks landing at ground level, integrated into building plinths, providing further activation amidst retail, restaurant and leisure activity. This base level underpins the scheme to create a truly mixed-use development.

On an Urban Design level, we used the detailed guidance of Glasgow City Council’s SG1 - The Place making Principle when designing the development so that it has a character unique in the city centre but respects the existing urban fabric with a scale and materiality that is appropriate and varies to suit each boundary condition.

Summary

We envisaged this development, not just as a series of buildings and the spaces defined by these, but as a holistic neighbourhood, with an animated public realm fraught with activity spilling out from the buildings to which they are harmoniously linked. Reinforcing and reinvigorating the bottom bar of the ‘Golden Z’ through its connection with Argyle Street and the St Enoch Centre. Connecting the developing Merchant City to the river and the East End to the commercial heart of Glasgow.

A future facing Glasgow is enjoying a prosperous period – the timing is perfect to transform this dormant site into a place where people want to be, to live, to work, to relax, to play.

One with a unique character that is vibrant, safe and exciting, but recognises its heritage and place in the City of Glasgow. A new neighbourhood that brings together people, the environment and the city, a union of many diverse facets - Union Yards.