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Multi-Storey: Changing Patterns of Regeneration

Part 2 Project 2009
Andrew Paul
University of Strathclyde, UK
Project Description
Demolish? Re-clad? Re-think. As swathes of 1950s concrete multi-storey flats are razed after a long period of neglect, there is a growing argument questioning demolition as an unsustainable practice. This project examines arguments advocating the potential re-use of this housing typology and critiques current redevelopment proposals for Sighthill, north of Glasgow.

Multi-Storey: Changing Patterns of Regeneration traces an alternative redevelopment of Sighthill and the five remaining towers from the city scale (through a strategic twenty-five year vision completed in a group of six), to the neighbourhood scale (through a revised masterplan), down to the space scale by means of an investigation into towers and how they meet the ground and how they are redeveloped internally and externally. By developing the necessary infrastructure at city level to re-integrate Sighthill with Glasgow and developing a new urban structure at neighbourhood level, Multi-Storey re-thinks potential regeneration strategies for high-rise towers in a more integrative, holistic and sustainable fashion.

Sustainability Agenda
The project is based on the hypothesis that existing towers should be re-habilitated where possible and the existing infrastructures and superstructures adapted to meet the present needs of the user bypassing the demolition, clearance and rebuild cycle. The comprehensive approach to adaptation allows the buildings to respond to present day standards giving them increased thermal integrity, passive heating and ventilation whilst promoting security, identity and ownership.

Multi-Storey holistically considers sustainability not only by the 'carbon factor' but sociologically through the retention and integration of established communities with new residents. By challenging the comprehensive redevelopment approach which removes long-standing residents from their established communities and networks, the project advocates building on these communities to develop safe places. These strands run through the three main stages of the project (i.e. city, neighbourhood and space) by creating increased connections and stitching communities together, reducing reliance on personal mobility and increasing food production and renewable energies where possible.

Andrew Paul

Demolish? Re-clad? Re-think! is a mature and critical piece of work which stems from a year long investigation into one of the most important issues facing mass housing in the City of Glasgow using as a pilot study those homes in one of the most interesting areas of the city. Through a well established partnership between Glasgow City Council and the University of Strathclyde, the former commissioned the Urban Design Studies Unit, to develop ambitious, long term ideas for this Urban Corridor. After a site investigation tracing its historic development to date - unravelling lifestyles, changes in built form, shifts in industrial and commercial patterns, movement, identity etc. - students developed long term strategies and visions describing the forms that physical, social and economic changes would take, and how change would be delivered through engagement with stakeholders.

Whilst it is a site close to the centre, it is disconnected from it, being surrounded by a number of barriers (motorway, rail line, high speed road, and a cemetery). At the start of the partnership, it housed 10 imposing tower blocks, a number of walk-ups and prefab tenements, a few schools and community buildings. The population is mixed, housing a substantial portion of asylum seekers. As the project developed, a few of the tower blocks were demolished. The author embarked at this point in a study of environmental, social and economic factors related to the performance of tower-blockism as a set of typologies, and concluded that this typology had a lot of life and potential quality left. In particular, in their architectural solution the student resolved two scenarios, a stand-alone tower-block and one reconfigured at lower levels to be embedded into a new urban block as a mechanism for a rational extension and enhancement of the community. This detailed renovation project cogently resolved the problem of how to turn stand-alone, isolated towers into proper urban fabric - in buildings providing excellent private, enjoyable and secure public spaces. This is a serious contribution to an immediate problem and one which will serve as a lesson of good practice to both practitioners and students.

Dr Ombretta Romice

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