A Constructive Point Of View
Leslie Martin


Leslie Martin

©Monica Pidgeon

I want to describe and to illustrate three major projects produced in my studio during the last five or six years. The first is a new building for The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. The design was approved in 1982 and the building was completed in 1987. The second is a scheme for a major project including a concert hall and civic halls and a commercial development also for the city of Glasgow. The third is a gallery of modern art and a children's pavillion finished in 1984. These complete the development of buildings in the Park which forms the headquarters of The Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon. These schemes may appear to be very different. The first is a very special- ised building for the performance and teaching of the arts of music and drama and of course it is an important building within the city. The second is a scheme which illustrates how a derelict area of a city might be regen- erated by major buidlings. This could be regarded as an illustration of the way in which buildings might add to the development of a new kind of central environment. The third, in which buildings for the display and encourage- ment of the arts are set within a delightful park, might be described as buildings in a landscape. But whatever the differences of requirement and location the thing which these buildings have in common is that they are in fact created within my own studio. They are the result of a lengthy experience of the way in which certain types of architectural problem might be solved and they are the pro- duct of a particular attitude to architecture which at the end of this talk I shall try to summarise.


Royal Scottish Academy Of Music & Drama, Glasgow, 1987. The Original Model

©Monica Pidgeon

First then the building for the distinguished Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. The proposals developed when a new site for this buidling was found in 1981. Here is the original model. This site had many advan- tages. The building could be given an imposing entrance from Renfrew Street on the southern boundary. Hope Street on the eastern boundary (on the right hand side of the slide) is the home of Scottish Opera in its Theatre Royal building. Scottish Television is nearby. On the western boundary (to the left) there is a service road which could provide convenient access for scenery and goods. Above all, the site was large enough to provide a spread- ing form of plan that is particularly desirable for a building with so many different types of use and where sound insulation between these uses is critical. Although the model of the building looks remarkably simple, it contains a large amount of varied and highly specialised accommodation. Some idea of this can be gained by considering the programme. First of all the building has to accommodate two separate schools: Music and Drama. Each school re- qfixes areas for both performance and teaching. Drama needs a working theatre to seat 400 and all the supporting dressing rooms, scenery stores, etc. Music has to have a concert hall seating around 400 people. But Drama also requires a studio theatre, and Music a recital room. Each of these to accommodate an audience of about 100. ‘ These then are the major volumes within the building. But they have to be related to their separate departments and teaching areas. In the case of Drama, seven acting rooms, two voice rooms and two rooms for movement. ' Music requires 42 teaching rooms, special rooms for ensemble, percussion, organ, etc. and no less than 48 practice rooms. In addition, a television studio, library, lecture theatre are shared be- tween departments and an organisation of this size obviously requires ade— quate provision for administration, board rooms, staff and student common rooms and dining areas. The architectural problem is clear. How can such a complex set of require— ments be organised into the tight pattern of relationships that will make the building work? The model illustrates the first step. Within that complex list of accommo— dation it is clear flum the theatre, the concert hall will require the largest volumes. The studio theatre and recital rooms also require volume but they are smaller. Early studies demonstrated that these could be most conveniently placed so that they formed a central spine. The model shows how the large volumes rise through the building. The theatre with its fly tower is in the fore— ground at the southern end and the concert hall to the north. Between these two the studio theatre and recital room were placed over each other. The next step flows from this. The advantage of the central spine is that the supporting accommodation can be wrapped around these main volumes so that they form a single block of buildings no more than three storeys in height. The requirements of both schools are contained within a single overall form. The two schools can be separate but interrelated. But one major advantage is that the auditoria are protected from external noise by the enclosing bands of teaching and supporting accommodation. This idea of nesting auditoria within an encircling band of rooms had been used in other buildings from my studio (particularly in the Cambridge Music School). These had worked well. The large volumes of the spine could have their separate structural systems. The smaller units of the enclosing rooms have a sound-proof cross wall system, and their external wall position allows all rooms to have natural light and a pleasant environment.

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