The urban building project is situated on the Northwestern side of Dennistoun, with direct access to the train station and Alexandra Parade Street, the primary arterial road in the neighbourhood.
There is an existing petrol station and car washing space on site, and even though these facilities serve their purpose, there are at least four more petrol stations within just a few miles. Nevertheless, the urban building project strives for a “greener future”, with more 15-minute cities encouraging active transportation while fossil fuel vehicles will be replaced with zero emissions. Furthermore, as Dennistoun has a predominantly young population, the neighbourhood would benefit from more dynamic, vibrant and future-centric facilities. Hence, the urban design proposal envisions a cultural, educational, and scientific centre that focuses on art, technology, and innovation, with the ambition of replacing a facility that no longer contributes to a greener future with a place where younger generations can learn how to build a better one.
The location of the project is geographically beneficial for the local art community as the northern side of Dennistoun is surrounded by other small exhibitions places, art studio spaces and art charities; hence the urban building can act as an incubator for collaboration and new opportunities for local students, artists, and businesses that want to learn how to implement the latest technologies in their practices.
The urban building promotes a programme that seeks to bring the young community together with artists, scientists and technologists to explore the cutting-edge world of emerging technologies through live performances, exhibitions, workshops and various laboratories and learning spaces.
The key features of the urban building:
The Entertainment Tower (Main Gathering Space):
• Space for immersive live performances that showcase the intersection of art and technology, featuring works by artists and technologists at the forefront of these fields.
• A flexible and dynamic space that can be easily adapted to accommodate various events and activities.
The Vertical Exhibition Tower
• A tower that showcases 3D printed sculptures and immersive art exhibitions on different floors, providing a “Mixed Reality” way of experiencing artworks: either through holographic interactions or through a VR(Virtual Reality) or AR( Augmented Reality) head-mounted display.
The Learning Tower
• Rooms to accommodate educational programmes, workshops, laboratories, and lectures on emerging technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning), and XR( Extended Reality Technologies) for people of all ages and backgrounds.
The urban building’s long axis is oriented towards the North to face Alexandra Parade Street, making it more ‘visible’ to the public. At the same time, it is positioned on the site’s western side to provide a generous public space on the south-eastern side with an outdoor cinema, skate ramp and a café for the local community.
In terms of materiality, the building seeks to blend in the context and uses the surrounding buildings’ materials as a reference. However, alternative, more sustainable materials include fibre cement cladding and rammed earth for the first two floors. The main feature of the interior spaces is the contrast between light and dark areas that aspire to create a sense of a cave-like experience from the moment someone enters the building. The “black boxes” rooms in the building aim to alter the users’ perception of physical boundaries with immersive projections; hence the need for natural light in these spaces is minimised.
The monolithic building form was inspired by the A-listed Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, only a few blocks from the site. Therefore, the urban building aspires to be Dennistoun “stone”, imposing a unique sculptural aesthetic for the North-West area in Dennistoun.