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Clyde Rowing Clubs

Part 1 Project 2010
Peter Harford-Cross
University of Strathclyde, UK
The once busy stretch of the River Clyde between the Science centre and Glasgow Green has fallen into disuse. It is a dead reach with no large ships able to transit to the town centre due to low bridges and no small water craft able to pass further downstream than the weir on the Green. At the same time, the rowing infrastructure on the Green has fallen into disrepair.

This thesis has two aims: to revitalise the dead reach and to provide a new infrastructure for rowing which opens the sport to the public.

The site chosen for the project links the upper and lower Clyde, opening up the unused stretch, but still retaining a strong link with the traditional rowing area.

The two buildings of the rowing centre sit at the end of a key route from the Concert Hall, down Buchanan Street and through St Enoch Square. The buildings therefore provide a link back to the centre of town. Two clubs would be housed in the two related but distinct structures. These also house public functions with restaurant, gym and race viewing grandstand.

At present the steep wharves and incoherent development of the river bank makes the site unwelcoming if not threatening. It is a key part of the project that the rowing centre should reverse this, making the river and it’s activities accessible once more. Therefore the lower, boat bay levels have glass curtain walls to reveal the sculptural beauty of the boats and the activity within. Cyclists and pedestrians traveling along the river will be able to see in and through the corners of the buildings. Passers by on the street above also have a direct view down into the boat storage spaces.

Construction combines concrete on the more formal street elevations and internal columns with timber glulam beams and timber cladding both inside and out. The beams in the larger building are shaped to allow the outdoor seating to drop below the club room level, maintaining an unrestricted view to those inside.

Peter Harford-Cross

Our second semester is devoted to an under-graduate thesis where unit tutors set open briefs which allow students to explore very individual ideas. This is within the overall theme of live, work and play; play being the subject for the second semester. As a unit group we considered regenerating 'the strip’, along Renfield Street, which historically has been Glasgow’s focus for entertainment.

Initially students built four abstract models identifying a passion, a site, a brief and finally how these could be brought together as a building diagram. This student's passion was rowing and it formed the first subject for a series of carefully crafted models.

Their second model explored the technical difficulties of rowing on the Clyde, in particular that the river is tidal in the city centre. The student demonstrated by positioning a weir at the new Transport Museum that they could create a series of rowing routes at competition distances. The third model explored the natural centre point of these routes, a pavilion located at the intersection of the river and Renfield Street. The competition distances matched those required for the Commonwealth Games allowing the project to bring these activities into the heart of the city and allowing the river to be used by future Glaswegians.

With this strategy in place and this site chosen, the student's fourth model showed that through the careful positioning of different building elements they could resolve some of Glasgow’s long standing urban problems; how to draw it’s major axis down to the Clyde and how to enliven the city’s river bank. The resultant building was then beautifully crafted to integrate the functional requirements of a rowing centre with the grandeur demanded of these urban gestures.

The reason why we decided on this nomination was not just for the beauty of the work but also for the reasoning behind the project and what would be such a meaningful proposal for the City of Glasgow. It is very rare that someone with the student's natural ability can also have the foresight to bring together such a well-rounded project.


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