Project Detail


Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow United Kingdom

Steven Holl Architects


Project Description


We aim for a building in complementary contrast to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 1909 Glasgow School of Art - forging a symbiotic relation in which each structure heightens the integral qualities of the other. We envision a thin translucent materiality in considered contrast to the masonry of the Mackintosh building - volumes of light which express the school's activity in the urban fabric embodying a forward-looking life for the arts.

This project's unique interior and exterior forces on the design are the catalysts for creating a new 21st century model for the art school. Working simultaneously from the inside out - engaging the functional needs and psychological desires of the program - and the outside in - making connections to the city campus and relating to the Mackintosh building opposite - the design will embody the school's aspirations in the city's fabric.

The new Glasgow School of Art building's special site, on top of one of Glasgow's Drumlins and opposite one of the United Kingdom's greatest works of art and architecture, offers unique potential to transform the GSA's presence in the city to a 21st century vibrant, cutting-edge art school that simultaneously values continuity with history.

Mackintosh's amazing manipulation of the building section for light in inventive ways has inspired our approach towards a plan of volumes in different light. We see the studio/workshop as the basic building block of the building. Spaces have been located not only to reflect their interdependent relationships but also their varying needs for natural light. Studios are positioned on the north façade with large inclined north facing glazing to maximize access to the desirable high quality diffuse north light. Spaces that do not have a requirement for the same quality of natural light, such as the refectory and offices, are located on the South façade where access to sunlight can be balanced with the occupants needs and the thermal performance of the space through application of shading.

"Driven voids of light" allow for the integration of structure, spatial modulation and light. The "Driven Void" light shafts deliver natural light through the depth of the building providing direct connectivity with the outside world through the changing intensity and color of the sky. In addition, they provide vertical circulation through the building, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

Along the South elevation, at the same height as the Mackintosh main studios, a landscape loggia in the form of a Machair gives the school an exterior social core open to the city. The natural vegetation with some stone work routes the water into a small recycling water pond which will reflect dappled sunlight onto the ceiling inside.

A 'Circuit of Connection' throughout the new GSA encourages the 'creative abrasion' across and between departments that is central to the workings of the school. The open circuit of stepped ramps links all major spaces - lobby, exhibition space, project spaces, lecture theater, seminar rooms, studios, workshops and green terraces for informal gatherings and exhibitions.

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Project Details

Glasgow School of Art
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Firm Name:
Project Team:
    Steven Holl, Chris McVoy (design architects) Noah Yaffe (associate) Rychiee Espinosa, JongSeo Lee, Fiorenza Matteoni, Dominik Sigg, Dimitra Tsachrelia, Ebbie Wisecarver (project team) Dominik Sigg (competition project architect) Peter Adams, Rychiee Espinosa (competition team)
  • Associate Architect: JM Architects 
  • Structural Engineer: ARUP 
  • Landscape Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates 
Project Type:
Project Status:
Project Size:
    11,250 sq m


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