Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Report from Mary, Queen of Shops


Retail expert Mary Portas has just published her review of the future of Britain's ailing high streets, which was prompted by concerns about a doubling of town centre vacancy rates in just two years. Her review makes a number of recommendations which, if implemented, would have an impact on the built environment and public space in town centres.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New design in historic settings

A new joint publication from Historic Scotland, Architecture and Place, and Architecture and Design Scotland explores how the standard of new design in historic settings can be raised. The guidance sets out some broad principles and illustrates them with reference to examples of good practice from around Scotland. These include St Aloysius Junior School, Glasgow; the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh; the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness; the Lotte Glob house, Sutherland; the Culloden Visitor Centre; and Glasgow's Cathedral Precinct.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Architectural procurement in Scotland

The RIAS (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland) has just published its long-awaited report on architectural procurement, which is freely available online. The report suggests that the process in Scotland is costly, inefficient, and damaging to both the economy and construction employment, and makes recommendations to improve the situation.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Scottish six-inch maps online


The National Library of Scotland has recently added 7486(!) map sheets to its already vast online collection. The maps are the six-inch to the mile and later edition maps of Scotland and cover the period 1892-1960. At this scale, they illustrate a very wide range of natural and man-made features and are excellent for local history. It is possible to zoom into the detail of the maps using an interactive index map, and to search by county, parish and a gazetteer of place names.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Living (e)Books


A series of 21 'Living Books about Life' has been launched online as part of a pioneering initiative to provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences. The books are written and produced by humanities scholars from universities worldwide, and re-package scientific research to make it more accessible, and freely available, to a non-scientific audience. Several of the titles are likely to be of interest to architects, and feature topics such as surveillance, energy, and the man-machine interface. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Bertrand Goldberg and Marina City


We've just added a new book, 'Bertrand Goldberg, architecture of invention' to library stock. It's the catalogue of the exhibition currently at the Art Institute of Chicago, which itself is accompanied by a website showcasing some little-known material. Anyone wanting to find out more about Goldberg's Marina City development might also be interested in a 'A city within a city'; an original brochure about the complex that we hold in our store.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The British Newspaper Archive

Today sees the launch of 4 million pages of newspapers from the 18th and 19th centuries, which have been made available online by the British Library. The archive is free to search, but there is a charge to access the actual newspaper pages themselves. Nevertheless, the database would be a useful tool for contextual research into the history of the built environment, and could be used in conjunction with the historic newspaper holdings of libraries such as Glasgow's Mitchell Library.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hepworth Gallery, Wakefield

The Concrete Centre has a short webcast which features David Chipperfield discussing the ideas behind his riverside Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, which uses concrete cast on-site.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

St Peter's Seminary, Cardross

GSA's School of Fine Art have organised a lecture at the Glasgow Film Theatre at 11am on Friday 25 November which will be given by Angus Farquhar of public art charity NVA. NVA are currently working on a radical plan for the derelict seminary complex at Cardross, near Glasgow, designed by Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. The lecture is an opportunity to learn more about these plans, and the wider context of the survival and reuse of modernist architecture. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nanontechnology in construction

NBS (the National Building Specification) regularly produce web-based articles on various aspects of building technology, and these can provide a useful point of entry into topics of current interest. A good example from this series is 'nanotechnology in construction' which offers a good overview of the subject together with links to further sources of information. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Passivhaus primers

The BRE (Building Research Establishment) has published online a series of documents which set out the key principles of the Passivhaus low energy construction standard, and explain the process and application of Passivhaus design.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New architectural acronym

As a fan of acronyms, I was delighted by a new book which has just arrived in the Library, entitled 'HOPSCA'. This is a new form of mixed-use development which has originated in China, comprising a complex of Hotels, Offices, Parks, Shopping malls, Clubs and Apartments. The term appears to be read as "hao bu si ka" in Chinese. The book we have purchased seems to be the only one on the subject so far.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Architecture Subject Guide reminder

This is probably a good point in the academic term to remind students about the Library's subject guide to architecture. The guide highlights the location of key architecture-related subject areas throughout the Library by their classification number, and lists our architectural magazine and journal holdings, including e-journals. It also provides information on the core electronic databases students should consider using when searching for journal articles, maps and images, and mentions other resources such as dissertations, DVDs, and Special Collections material. The guide is in pdf form and can be downloaded using the link above. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Imagination Playground

New York architect David Rockwell has designed Imagination Playground, a portable polyethylene foam children's playground in kit form, which gives children themselves the freedom to choose how they play and what they play with, and teaches them basic design and construction concepts.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The benefits of good street design

The CIVITAS think-tank has issued an online report which attempts to quantify the social and emotional benefits of well-designed streets. It draws on evidence from from Brighton's experience with the redesign of the aptly-named New Road to create a shared public realm between vehicles and pedestrians in the heart of the city.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Quality in town and country

The Urban Design Group has made available a scanned and digitised version of the discussion document 'Quality and Town and Country', published by in 1994 by the Government under John Gummer, Secretary of State, Department of the Environment. The initiative was a catalyst for the re-establishment of the importance of design quality in the planning system. The document can be freely downloaded in full from the Urban Design Group's website.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The shareable future of cities

Alex Steffen, a leading voice on sustainability and social innovation, talks on TED about the challenge of meeting the energy needs of a rapidly-urbanising planet, and discusses a selection of neighbourhood-based green projects that expand our access to things we want and need, while reducing the time we spend in cars.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Designing for independence and dignity

The RIBA and BRE have recently issued 'A guide for assisted living', which details key design requirements for the adaptation of residences to meet the needs of the elderly and chronically ill to enable them to live active, independent and dignified lives. The guide is freely available online in pdf format from the RIBA website.

Monday, October 31, 2011

UK life expectancy animated map

The UK's Office for National Statistics has been creating interactive content to bring its data to life, making it more meaningful and memorable. A good example which should give architects pause for thought is an animated map which illustrates changing life expectancy across the UK for males and females. Interacting with the map allows you to see how a particular geographical area compares with the UK as a whole, which in the case of Glasgow makes for alarming viewing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Digimap researcher workshop

Digimap's support team are organising a free, informal workshop in Edinburgh on Tuesday 29 November, aimed at any postgraduate or researcher using or intending to use Digimap as part of their work. The day will include informal breakout sessions and workshops, and is an excellent opportunity to receive advice and support on issues such as sourcing geospatial data, data management, making the most of Digimap, and advanced GIS. Places are limited; follow the link above to complete a form and register your interest.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two new e-books

We've just added another couple of e-books to our steadily-expanding collection:
  • Structural and stress analysis (T H G Megson)
  • Sustainability and the design of transport interchanges (Brian Edwards)
Both books can be accessed on- and off-campus via the Library's online catalogue.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

PARC e-journal from Brazil

PARC (Pesquise em Arquitetura e Construcao) is a freely-available Brazilian e-journal from the School of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urban Design of the State University of Campinas. Produced twice-yearly in both English and Portuguese, it presents the results of academic research on contemporary architecture and urban design issues. The latest issue, on contemporary architecture and scientific development, has just been published.    

Friday, October 14, 2011

New e-book in the Library

Where possible, we'll be purchasing electronic copies of key texts again this academic year to ensure their maximum availability to students. We've just bought an e-copy of Dean Hawkes' 'The environmental imagination', which explores the changing relationship between the poetic intentions and technical means of environmental design in architecture. Read this book online using your 'MyGSA' account; there's also a link to it from the GSA Library catalogue.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mackintosh School of Architecture research projects

Last academic year's undergraduate research projects, formerly known as dissertations, are now available for consultation in GSA Library. These, and previous years' dissertations, can be searched for either by using the Library's online catalogue, or by following the weblink above which leads to alphabetical listings by author for each year. The collection is an incredibly rich resource covering an enormous range of architecture-related topics.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A natural factory

Earlier this year, Sust (Architecture and Design Scotland’s Sustainability in Architecture Programme) and the Forestry Commission Scotland collaborated on an exhibition at the Lighthouse in Glasgow to showcase recent Scottish buildings that use of timber in their construction. Much of the exhibition's content is now available online in the form of case studies of 25 buildings, including photographs and plans.





Monday, October 10, 2011

Scottish Ten Edinburgh animations

Historic Scotland has been working wth Glasgow School of Art to digitally scan and record Scotland's five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, alongside five outstanding international heritage sites for future generations. Five of the animations of 3D models generated as part of this Scottish Ten project can now be freely downloaded online.

Friday, October 07, 2011

The archaeological landscape of Bute

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) has published a free online guidebook to the rich historical environment of the Isle of Bute, in the Clyde estuary. The book's detailed maps, plans and photographs provide a comprehensive guide to the island’s sites of interest, invaluable for anyone needing context for its principal town of Rothesay or the well-known Mount Stuart house.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Biomimicry in architecture

This recent podcast from the RSA features Michael Pawlyn, director of Exploration Architects, talking about how nature offers a sourcebook of extraordinary deign solutions for the challenges of building a sustainable future. Pawlyn's new book, 'Biomimicry in architecture' will shortly be available in GSA Library.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Glasgow Landmarks

Inspired by the successful Chicago Landmarks initiative, various Glasgow organisations under the banner of the Mackintosh Heritage Group recently invited the public to vote for and create a list of the city's top 50 buildings. The final selection is an interesting reflection of popular favourites, with some lesser-known structures making it into the list. The project is accompanied by a well-illustrated website and links to a downloadable map of the selected buildings.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

2011 RIBA Stirling Prize

As usual, we've recorded this year's Channel 4's Stirling Prize programme in case you missed it at the weekend - it's DVD 2196 in the GSA Library's collection.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Talk to me

The current MoMA exhibition 'Talk to me' explores how objects communicate with us and can help us to communicate with others. As always with MoMA, the exhibition is available online and showcases around 200 fascinating projects centred around interaction design, with a specific section which looks at the city.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sensing and actuating architecture

Italian designer Carlo Ratti talks on TED.com about the work that his team at MIT's SENSEable City Lab are doing.  Ratti creates astonishing visualisations of city life by pulling data from passive datasets like mobile phone calls, and by creating interactive environments from moving water and flying light, powered by simple gestures caught through sensors.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scotland's energy sector

The Scottish Parliament's Information Centre compiles regular briefings on key topics, and these are a valuable way to better understanding many current issues. The Centre has recently turned its attention to Scotland's energy sector, focusing on energy for transport, heat and electricity, and measures to reduce demand and boost renewable technologies.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Polish museums

An online exhibition from the RIBA looks at three major new museums being built in Poland, and explores how architecture can help frame and unlock the past, acting as both a memorial and also a tool for visitors to learn and understand the context of the present. Museums featured are the Copernicus Science Museum, Museum of the History of the Polish Jews, and the Silesian Museum in Katowice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Swinburne Design lectures online

The Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne holds regular Design Perspectives lectures, and eight of these are now freely available online and may be of interest to architects.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Network Rail guidance on station planning and design

Network Rail has recently issued design guidance for major railway stations, based around the four key themes of usability, operability, quality and value. It includes some interesting comments on issues such as wayfinding and provision for large pedestrian flows in public spaces.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New and Improved Subject Guides

GSA Library has just updated and expanded its range of tailored subject guides in preparation for the start of the 2011-2012 academic session.
Our subject guides have a great new streamlined look, and have been made available as PDFs for easy download. They provide a quick one-stop guide to the resources available for all GSA programmes and subject areas, as well as for affiliated topics such as Film and Cinema. Find out useful shelfmarks in the Library, print and electronic journals, online databases and imagebanks, library blogs and learning materials, all tailored to your specific subject or course of study.

OASE Journal for Architecture

OASE is an independent, international, peer-reviewed journal for architecture which is published three times per year, and provides rigorous investigation of a specific theme, featuring architecture, urban design and landscape design. OASE now has a new website, and issues 1-81 of the journal available to download as PDFs. As with all such journals, we've made a link to OASE from the library's online catalogue.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where did you get to on Doors Open Day?





Some images from a visit to the 23rd floor community flat in the soon-to-be demolished Red Road flats in Glasgow as part of this year's Doors Open celebrations.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sensing a historic low-CO2 future

Colin Porteous, Senior Researcher at GSA's Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU), has made freely available online his contribution to a new book 'Chemistry, Emission Control, Radioactive Pollution and Indoor Air Quality'. Entitled 'Sensing a historic low-CO2 future', Colin's chapter highlights the longstanding role of CO2 as an indicator of air quality inside buildings, and looks at the contemporary dilemma between achievng airtightness and maintaining air quality.    

Monday, August 29, 2011

PADDI relaunched

The PADDI (Planning and Architecture Design Database Ireland) database is a long-established and unique resource for Irish architecture which has now been redeveloped and relaunched with a more powerful search engine. It's a free database with wide and varied coverage spanning 25,000 book and journal article records, with approximately 1,000 records being added each year, and is the result of a longstanding collaboration between Queen's University Belfast and University College Dublin.

Monday, August 22, 2011

City of Glasgow College events

The City of Glasgow College (formerly Glasgow Met) is holding a free day of events on Thursday 15 September as part of the city's annual Door Open celebrations. The day at the College is centred around traditional building skills and includes hands-on sessions, demonstrations, short lectures and an exhibition. GSA staff and students may be particularly interested in the short 1pm session on laser scanning.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Palladio, Pozzo and Serlio digitised

Some months ago, we experimented with the digitisation of one of GSA Library's most treasured books, a 1581 edition of Palladio's 'I quattro libri dell'architettura', and made it freely available online via the Internet Archive. We've now finished adding a further 34 books to this online collection from across the art, design adn architecture disciplines, including Serlio's 'The first booke of architecture' (1611); Pozzo's 'Rules and examples of perspective' (1693); and a translation of Palladio's third and fourth books into English by Cole (1736). All the books can be viewed on the Internet Archive's website, and links have been made to them from the Library's online catalogue. They can even be ownloaded to handheld devices such as a Kindle...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Power to the People



Historic Scotland recently held a conference to celebrate the achievements of Scottish architects and engineers in pioneering the generation of hydroelectricity in the UK. An associated free book can be downloaded from the Historic Scotland website which traces the development of the industry and assesses the contribution of a number of distinguished pre- and post-war architects. A gazetteer provides an overview of the existing infrastructure in Scotland.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More e-books in the Library



We've just added another half a dozen electronic books to our ever-growing collection:





  • Walter Benjamin and architecture (Hartoonian)

  • Mechanical and electrical equipment for buildings (Grondzik)

  • Stadia: a design and development guide (John)

  • World's greatest architect: making, meaning and network culture (Mitchell)

  • Theatre buildings: a design guide (Strong)

  • Architecture in detail II (Bizley)

All these can be read on- and off-campus with your MyGSA account via the Library catalogue.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Online maps of Glasgow



The University of Glasgow Library has made some more of its historic map collection available online, this time focusing on the Glasgow area and including 'zoomable' Ordnance Survey and private surveyor maps. The intention is to continue adding further sheets, so it will be worth bookmarking the site and checking back periodically.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Scotland on Front Row



BBC Radio 4's 'Front Row' arts programme last night featured a report from Glasgow's new Riverside transport museum, and included interviews with architectural critic Hugh Pearman and the building's architect Zaha Hadid. The same programme also made a visit to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (see my blog posting of 6 June), which has been shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize and whose winner will be announced on Front Row tonight. You can catch up with recent programmes via BBC iPlayer.