Monday, December 20, 2010

Beauty Matters

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has gone all philosophical as part of its 'People and Places' project to get people involved in shaping the quality of their local environment. The project includes seven highly interesting essays on the theme of 'beauty' which have been commissioned from a range of public figures, all of which argue for a rediscovery of the concept.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Project MUSE

We've just finished adding another 80 e-journals to the library catalogue, all of which are available on-campus at GSA via Project MUSE. The titles cover all subject disciplines, including women's studies, philosophy and history, technology, literature, sociology, cultural studies, and many more. A particular bonus is that most journals are available up to and including their latest issues.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Scottish Civic Trust annual conference

The Scottish Civic Trust is running a very reasonably-priced conference in Glasgow on Wednesday 1 Decenber, and it's not too late to make a booking. The event will bring together professionals, local groups and individuals to explore the future for active community engagement in the heritage, planning and placemaking agenda in 21st century Scotland. Further details can be found on the Trust's website.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Scottish House Condition Survey 2009

The Scottish Government has just released its latest 'key findings' report from its continuous survey into the condition of the country's housing stock. It focuses on issues such as energy efficiency, fuel poverty, and the quality of housing. The most shocking statistic, which has been picked up by the media, is that around one third of Scots are living in fuel poverty and are unable to keep their homes warm.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

European City of the Year 2011

Scotland was the big winner at the Academy of Urbanism's annual awards for the best places in Europe, with Glasgow and Tobermory Harbour voted European City of the Year and Great Place of the Year respectively. The Academy's website is a bit short on the details, but apparently Glasgow's 'friendliness, local character, commercial success and sustainability' were enough to beat Budapest and Helsinki, the other shortlisted cities.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2011 architectural drawing competition

This is a quick 'plug' for an architectural drawing competition hosted by the Royal Glasgow Institute (RGI) and the Norma Frame Foundation, and which is open to architects, architectural students, and anyone associated with the discipline. This UK competition will take place in January 2011 and seeks to promote hand-drawing, rather than computer-aided drawings. Further information is available on the RGI website.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Supermarket-led development

CABE has produced a report examining the role of the UK's supermarket chains in regeneration, design and placemaking. 'Supermarket development: asset or liability?' draws on evidence from 30 major supermarket schemes, two thirds of which are mixed use. While CABE highlights a number of symathetic and successful developments, it suggests that too often the basic model for a supermarket on an out-of-town brownfield site has simply been transported to a town centre setting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Structural failure, Victorian style

The National Library of Scotland has put online 91 black and white photographs from the 1880 Board of Trade enquiry into the infamous collapse of the Tay Bridge in 1879. The dramatic images were taken after the collapse and followed salvage work which recovered debris from the River Tay.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hidden Histories: Glasgow Central Station

Scottish broadcaster STV has a fascinating four-part history of Glasgow's Central Station available to view online. Historian Paul Lyon takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour to reveal interesting facts and anecdotes about the building and its construction.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Schedule

I've been having a further poke around on the Historic Scotland website, and I see that the List of Scheduled Monuments ('The Schedule') is now online. Monument and GIS data have been brought together on the website, making it easier to search, view and download maps and information about the country's scheduled monuments. The website is yet another benefit of the Government's wider aim to make more data publicly and freely accessible online.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scotland :Building for the Future

Historic Scotland has placed freely online a new publication about Scotland's post-war architecture. 'Scotland: building for the future' is a collection of illustrated essays looking at civic and commercial architecture, housing and health, education, industry and infrastructure, places of worship, and leisure. It considers some of the architects behind the designs, and outlines the debate about the preservation of the modern heritage. There is a useful bibliography.

Monday, November 15, 2010

'Tower Block' book now online

The full text of the book 'Tower block: modern public housing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland' by Miles Glendinning and Stefan Muthesius is now freely available online. Published in 1994 but now out of print, this is a key and highly readable text on the political and architectural ideas that lay behind the post-war high-rise housing boom. There is a link to the online book from the GSA Library catalogue.

Friday, November 12, 2010


GSA students and staff now have access to hundreds more electronic journals through Project MUSE. Project MUSE is a unique collaboration between libraries and publishers, providing 100% full-text and user-friendly online access to a comprehensive selection of prestigious humanities and social sciences journals. All are heavily indexed and peer-reviewed. MUSE is also the sole source of complete, full-text versions of titles from many of the world's leading university presses and scholarly societies. Access to this resource is on-campus only.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Doolan Prize shortlist

RIAS (The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) has announced a shortlist of 11 new buildings for this year's RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award, the UK's richest architectural prize. Images and brief background information on each shortlisted entry are available online, and the winner will be announced on 19 November 2010.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Material efficiency

An interesting and freely downloadable report from the Concrete Centre (the central development organisation for the UK concrete industry) points out the surprising fact that the industry now uses and recycles more waste than it produces, thus diverting significant volumes of waste from potential landfill and reducing the depletion of natural resources. It explains how the material properties of concrete, such as high thermal efficiency, can also contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Online resources at The Mitchell Library

Staff from Glasgow's Mitchell Library have been in telling us about some of the fantastic online resources that are freely available through the Glasgow public library network. One that really caught my eye was 'British Standards Online', about which I get asked occasionally and which can now be accessed from any of the city's public libraries, although there is a charge for printing the standards out. For more information about this and other online resources, some of which can be used from home, take a look at Glasgow Libraries' new website.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New e-book in the Library

A new e-book, 'Altering practices: feminist politics and the poetics of space' is a collection of essays concerned with the growing importance of technology and communications, the effects of globalisation, and the change of social demands. With contributions from the fields of architecture, art, philosophy and gender studies, it highlights feminist concerns with space 'from the critical stance of the new millennium'. GSA staff and students can access this book online with their MyGSA account.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Late love: post-war modern architecture

Berlin-based architecture critic Jurgen Tietz writes for the Goethe Institut about the public debate on post-war modern architecture in Germany, focusing on the cities of Bonn, Cologne, Hannover and Berlin.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Historic Glasgow

Our Archivist here at GSA mentioned this website to me, and I think it may be relatively new. 'Historic Glasgow' focuses on a dozen or so major themes relating to the history of the city, and is accompanied by good-quality image galleries. Although it is not yet complete and appears to be aimed at schools, it provides a highly-readable introduction to the city and its history which will be useful to newly-arrived students and others unfamiliar with Glasgow.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Threshold 2010

Last month Glasgow School of Art hosted 'Threshold 2010', a one-day conference which brought together healthcare professionals, educators and designers to share their knowledge and experience of creating 'people-centred' places. Summaries of the speakers' presentations together with their slide shows are freely available online.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Architecture: form, space and order

The 3rd edition of Frank Ching's classic visual reference book to the principles of architecture, 'Architecture: form, space and order' is now available to GSA staff and students as an e-book. It can be accessed via the DawsonEra online service both on-campus, and off-campus using a 'MyGSA' account.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Understanding Place

English Heritage has recently produced 'Understanding place: historic areas assessments: principles and practice', the latest in a series of general guidance publications and character studies of localities. It aims to assist local authorities, practitioners, developers, community groups and others assess the character and significance of historic areas, be they town or city centres, suburbs, villages or other urban and rural landscapes. Case studies are included, and the entire document is freely available online.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Photoshop workshop for students Thursday 7th October

Learning Resources has organised some IT workshops for students as a result of requests from last years' Student IT skills survey. GSA staff members are also welcome to attend too. These kick off this Thursday evening at 5.15pm in the iMac training room on the first floor of the Library with a Photoshop session focussing on scanning, image formats and resolution.

If you would like to attend the session turn up at 5.15pm and grab a seat at an iMac. The first 19 people to arrive will secure a place, there is no pre-booking. Alternatively if you have a laptop with Photoshop on it, bring it along and join in!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Sensuous geographies

'Sensuous geographies: body, sense and place' is the title of an intriguing new e-book which has just been added to the Library's collection. It explores our immediate sensuous experience of the world through the four senses of touch, smell, hearing and sight, and explains how this process is influenced by historical, cultural and technological contexts. GSA staff and students can freely access this book online using their 'MyGSA' account.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Fairfield shipyard offices

Last month I mentioned Glasgow's 'Doors Open' day, the highlight of which for me was a look around the former offices of the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company in Govan, built in 1890 by John Honeyman and Keppie. Of particular interest were the vast top-lit drawing offices and the unusual rear entrance to the building. The complex, which has been derelict since 2001, is currently the subject of a £4.5m restoration by architects Page and Park which will create heritage and business space.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pod life

GSA student Alec Fraser has begun living in a home-made pod, inspired by the 1960s/1970s Urban Nomad movement and its small-scale, portable dwellings in urban locations. The pod is in Glasgow's West End, and is a replica of a 50-year old design by architect Ken Isaacs. Alec's blog provides further information about the project.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dundee V&A designs unveiled

The six shortlisted designs for the V&A museum planned for Dundee's waterfront have gone on display in the library of Abertay University, and a selection of images can also be viewed online. Shortlisted firms include Steven Holl Architects, Edinburgh-based Sutherland Hussey, and Snohetta with Gareth Hoskins Architects. The building is due to be opened in 2014 as a centre of 21st century design.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Large-scale urban design

CABE (The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) has recently published 'Getting the big picture right: a guide to large scale urban design'. This important guide is freely available online, and it outlines a new approach to the challenge that allows people to shape the places they live or work in, and improve their distinctiveness and quality. Usefully, it includes good examples of large scale urban design.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

555 KUBIK: how it would be, if a house was dreaming

555 KUBIK is a large facade projection onto the Hamburg Kunsthalle, Germany. It rather defies description, so just watch:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Climbing great buildings

The BBC2 series 'Climbing great buildings' in which architectural historian and novice climber Dr Jonathan Foyle scales some of Britain's most famous structures, tonight (6.30pm) visits Glasgow School of Art to explore the influences used by Charles Rennie Mackintosh to create his masterwork. The series features 15 buildings, and previous episodes can be viewed using BBC iPlayer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

20 buildings every architect should understand

Simon Unwin's latest book 'Twenty buildings every architect should understand' is now available in the GSA Library as an e-book. Unwin's previous titles, notably 'Analysing architecture' and 'An architecture notebook' have proved very popular. 'Twenty buildings' can be accessed online from anywhere by GSA staff and students using their 'MyGSA' account.

Monday, September 20, 2010

City design: transforming tomorrow

It's sometimes useful to step back from the cosy world of architectural books and magazines to see what others are saying about issues related to the built environment. The Guardian newspaper has been looking at how new technologies will help cities to respond to the challenges posed by population growth, and presents a series of thought-provoking articles on the theme of 'smarter cities'.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Glasgow 'Doors Open' Day

It's that time of year again, and for any new students arriving at GSA this week, an opportunity not to be missed. Over the weekend of Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th September, more than 100 of the city's buildings, many not normally accessible to the public, will be open with free access. The Festival's website provides further information on this well-established and always throughly enjoyable event.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

New e-book in the Library

Another e-book has been added to our collection, supplementing the hard copy versions which are always in high demand. It's the 3rd edition of Simon Unwin's 'Analysing architecture', an architectural design classic. A link to the book can be found on the GSA Library catalogue.
Access: Free, but MyGSA account required

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Rammed earth construction

My trip to Berlin last month included a visit to the Chapel of Reconciliation, built by architects Rudolf Reitermann and Peter Sassenroth, and straddling the former 'no man's land' of the Berlin Wall. The chapel is a refreshing change from the city's architectural mega-projects, and one of its many interesting aspects is that it is Germany's first rammed earth building. Read more about this technology in Jean Dethier's article 'Building with raw earth: an eco-revolution?', in the Architectural Review, May 2009, pages 94-95.

Friday, August 27, 2010 is a charitable organisation dedicated to rebuilding the ravaged Lower Ninth-Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana which due to its proximity to the Industrial Canal levee breach, was one of the hardest-hit neighbourhoods in the wake of hurricane Katrina. are aiming for a holistic rebuilding of a community, through such projects as a home rebuilding training program whereby essential skills such as carpentry, electrics and plumbing allow neighbours to work together to build a safer, greener and cleaner area for them and their children. In addition to rebuilding houses, new projects such as the community garden overcome logistical issues such as a lack of amenities in the area as a result of the widespread devastation. This kind of grassroots development demonstrates how in the face of disaster, communities can change for the better.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Lighthouse - Natural Factory Exhibition

This exhibition showcases the past, current and future uses of indigenous Scottish timber – from tree to paper - but in particular the potential to use timber as a building material. It is the first in a series exhibitions investigating sustainable construction products, which will ultimately form the core of the Scottish Government funded Sustainable Materials Library. The exhibition and the resultant Library will operate on a number of levels, and should appeal to young people, the public and professionals alike – whether as a resource for school and student projects, for those building or upgrading their homes or for designers working on large scale architectural projects.

The Lighthouse (11 Mitchell Lane, G1 3NU) exhibitions are free to the public and subject to opening times listed on the website. For enquiries phone: The Lighthouse Reception: 0141 276 5365

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The History of the Ordnance Survey

The Ordnance Survey website, gives free access to two full-text ebooks on the history of the Ordnance Survey. The first is “A History of the Ordnance Survey” (1980) edited by W.A. Seymour and J.H. Andrews and the second is “Ordnance Survey: Map Makers to Britain since 1791” (1992) by Tim Owen and Elaine Pilbeam. These free books will appeal to those interested in the history of map-making, map design, mapping technologies, the publishing industry, the role of maps in the history of British tourism, the intertwining of landscape and history in visual form, the British development of infographics and spatial concepts, and much more. The books are presented for reading online using Flash flip-book software, but those loading this software in their Web browser will find that it also offers a menu icon for downloading each book as a PDF file.

Access : free

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Green agenda – Timber technology

Currently timber is enjoying renewed popularity as a building material because it is carbon-neutral, a good thermal insulator, structurally strong and has the look and feel of a natural resource. If one product encapsulates the current vogue for wood in buildings it is cross-laminated timber (CLT). This structural plywood can be produced up to 27 layers and in panel sizes up to 3m long. The great appeal of CLT is that it is an all-in-one material that can be used as structure, fabric and finish. CLT is invariably produced by, market experts in Austria, Germany and Switzerland (included is a link to German company, Binderholz Bausysteme catalogue which details technical data, characteristic values and various ready made constructions). Despite the continental production, UK architects have been pushing the boundaries of CLT application in projects such as the Woodland Trust headquarters in Grantham and Sainsbury’s in Darmouth.

Access : free

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Right to the City

Examining the link between urbanization and capitalism, David Harvey writes in The New Left Review and suggests we view Haussmann’s reshaping of Paris and today’s explosive growth of cities as responses to systemic crises of accumulation—and issues a call to democratize the power to shape the urban experience.

Access: free

Friday, August 20, 2010

Media Facades Festival

The 2010 Media Facades Festival Europe, which runs from 27 August to 12 September, explores 'the networked possibilities of urban screens and media facades via internet and new technologies on a European level.' In practice, this boils down to a giant multimedia fest in the public spaces of Berlin, Brussels, Helsinki, Liverpool, Budapest, Linz and Madrid. Read all about the programme, the artists, and the spaces and buildings they will be using on the Festival's website.
Access: Free

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Visualising Urban Geographies

A partnership between the National Library of Scotland and the University of Edinburgh has resulted in an online resource which allows new insights into the spatial character and historical development of Edinburgh. 'Visualising Urban Geographies' provides new dynamic maps of the city and enables historic maps to be compared with their present-day equivalents and satellite images.
Access: Free

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Infinite space

The documentary feature film 'Infinite space', which traces the work of prolific American architect John Lautner (1911-1994) was shown recently on BBC2. The Library has made a recording which is now available for loan (DVD 1824). The 90-minute film is directed by Murray Grigor.
Access: Available for loan to GSA staff and students.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The mother of all open space?

I'm just back from a trip to Berlin, where I visited the former Tempelhof Airport, which ceased operating in 2008. Described by Norman Foster as 'the mother of all modern airports', its vast runways have recently been turned into a quite astonishing public space. Curiously, official information about this unique site and its possible future - in English at least - is surprisingly hard to find, and coverage in the architectural press is virtually non-existent.