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Installation For Contemporary Art, Mitchell Street, Glasgow

Part 2 Project 2001
Amanda Shirley
Mackintosh School of Architecture, UK
'We live in cities badly, we have built them up in culpable innocence and now fret helplessly in a synthetic wilderness of our own construction'
Johnathan Raban

My thesis project investigates the possibility of colonising left over spaces within the dense urban grid as a means of providing a sustainable way of enabling the lifetime regeneration of the city. I focused on Mitchell Street which is a run-down street despite its proximity to Central Station and Buchanan Street. The large ramped concrete landscape of an NCP car park is sited in this city centre location. It is a place of transience, a non-place. There is also a redundant electrical substation space around which the car park is wrapped. Tow buildings down the street is a gym which is half the height of its tow century old neighbourhood buildings. A huge truss is on its roof holding the adjoining buildings apart.

I believe that the experience of art should be more engaged with the integral experience of the city, and not attempt to keep its aloof institutional status, behind a pair of formal entrance doors. Therefore I propose a contemporary art laboratory, which is knitted in to the experience of the city for the making of and the experiencing of contemporary video, digital, installation and interactive art. The project is conceived of as a piece of furniture in a underused public room of the city, enabling new and different functions to inhabit the space. This installation has its own autonomy but relies on the existing space for opportunities, as equally the existing spaces are not changed but merely inhabited differently. The architecture enables the new usages. Instead of using the car park as a place to store your car as you live and work in the city, the car park becomes part of the cultural landscape of the city.

The issues of sustainability are particularly pertinent in this project as one of the main ideas is to colonise existing residual spaces within the city, using existing structures and opportunities. The recycling of redundant or underused spaces is a critical concept for the new century. Resourceful recycling of the built environment is a significant way of interpreting the notion of sustainability, because neither extensive demolition nor rebuilding needs to be carried out. The skin is a honeycomb cardboard construction fixed to a cardboard tube structure. Therefore this project is not so much about the use of solar panels or eco-friendly materials necessarily, but of the lifetime regeneration of the City.

Amanda Shirley

The student's identification of the potential Mitchell Street site was intriguing and her independent pursuit of the idea was admirable. The project’s unfolding development was creatively measured and involved a constant process of spirited evaluation and judicious editing.

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