Pollokshields Heritage  

Pollokshields’ 21st Century Homes for the Future

Here in the early part of the 21stcentury, Pollokshields residents can celebrate the recent addition of new homes within both the public and private sectors. On the edges of our garden city suburb we see fresh architectural thinking in tenement and villa design, both integral to our building heritage.

In the accompanying article to this one, “Pollokshields’ Edwardian Homes for the Future”, we explore three examples of these building types from around 1912, and here we contrast these with three examples in 2012 which reflect advances in technology, materials and lifestyle, one a grand villa at the edge of West Pollokshields, one a new build development of homes at the edge of East Pollokshields, and one a major refurbishment of an existing landmark scheme from the 1960s.

St. Andrew’s Crescent Deck Access Flats

In the public sector, social housing development by Southside Housing Association is addressing the long-awaited refurbishment of the “Deck Flats” at St. Andrew’s Crescent, part of a once fashionable and desirable housing scheme from the 1960s, in recent years seriously affected by technical and performance issues. The background to this Pollokshields development is that in the late 1960s a number of original villas were demolished to make way for the development of corridor flats. Situated on a site of six acres, bordered by tree-lined streets, the deck flats enclose a large area of green space. Residents living in these properties will soon enjoy massive investment based on designs by JM Architects. Technical issues within the deck access properties will very shortly be addressed, following full consultation with resident’s groups, to create:

  • high performance over-cladding to tackle dampness, ensure energy efficiency and improve the overall appearance of the blocks
  • internal repairs to walls, doors and plasterwork
  • the installation of new entrance enclosures and door entry systems to ensure tenants feel safe and secure
  • new flooring to the decks and sound insulation to properties below to help address heat loss and sound transference and
  • enhanced environmental works to improve the adjacent pathways and surrounding areas

Included in these new features will be lower heating costs enabled by the “rendered thermal jacket” to exterior walls, gateposts and a beech hedge around the defensible perimeter gardens space, coloured lighting and graphics to stairways, doorways and punctured openings, timber slatted spaces created by opening up existing concrete drying areas, tinted patterned glass, and essentially enlarging the internal floor space of flats by enclosing balconies within them. The exterior elevations will have a more homogenous look to replace the “bands” effect horizontally, and the Mansard roof will be broken up to create a visually improved aesthetic more sympathetic to the original sixties-style of architecture.

Elevation 01

elevation 02

St. Andrew’s Road New Build Housing Development

In a recent interview with architect Phil McCafferty of Assist Architects Ltd, the practice responsible for a new housing development at St. Andrew’s Road, Pollokshields, this local man, who is clearly passionate about the area, having been brought up in Leven Street and involved in heritage organisations locally for many years, Phil explained:

“This site was a former Glasgow City Council/Glasgow Corporation Cleansing Depot dating from the 1960s, and prior to that had been open ground with temporary uses, e.g. scout hall, allotments, skating pond. Southside Housing Association purchased the land for new housing to meet local demand, desirous of a housing mix that would be wide and varied, including mixed tenure, reflecting the balancing of housing need with such a rare opportunity.

The site is outwith the East Pollokshields Conservation Area. The urban context had been eroded some years ago by demolition of Victorian tenements and the creation of low-rise buildings between McCulloch Street and St. Andrew’s Road. Recent development adjacent had again altered the scale and appearance from low–rise commercial units to new build domestic flatted developments in order to create a new urban edge to East Pollokshields, along an important traffic artery. The aims of this new development were to:

  • bring the building mass forward to emphasise the street relationship and free up rear land while maintaining lay-by parking on the main road
  • maintain a predominantly 4 storey scale to fit in with the nearby new area
  • provide a “broken” block to give views over the city and avoid a large slab frontage
  • use massing to create a definite break in frontage, two softer corner features and a “bookend” pair to start and terminate the site, using a masonry external finish. The corner features were planned to rise an additional storey to emphasise the break in the building.

The building forms a strong part in definition of the new edge to East Pollokshields. In colour, texture, scale and height, it constitutes a modern interpretation of the tenement form (6 closes in total) while providingthe necessary wider housing mix and provision for car parking. It adds a population of around 150 people to assist the viability of local shops, transport and services.”

Phil added, “The Victorians were financially astute in that they built most flats in a close or group of closes based on a single plan type. Current development opportunities from the private sector tend to go along similar lines, in contrast to the housing needs-driven aims of Southside Housing Association. St. Andrew's Road is a custom design and the housing mix emphasises the variety of house types and sizes.”

This breakdown of flat types illustrates the point.

“One aspect not immediately apparent on this project, and a response to reducing large families off common stairs, is the embedding of main door maisonettes into the building mass. We also integrated a wheelchair-standard flat into the development, both aspects which the speculative developer is unlikely to aim for or achieve.”

This plan layout of the lower floor of a maisonette within the development also shows today’s trend of open plan layout of public rooms, with living/dining/kitchen flowing through from front to back, in contrast with the typical tenement plan layouts of the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

With the recent completion of this development, discussions are now ongoing to consider sculptural artwork to one of the gable ends, based on the history of this site as follows: Construction of the Canal began in 1807 and the first boat, the passenger boat, The Countess of Eglinton, was launched on the 31 October 1810. The passenger service initially only ran between Paisley and Johnstone. The full length to Glasgow's Port Eglinton was completed sometime in 1811. The original plans to extend the canal to Ardrossan were soon suspended. The costs of completing the first 11-mile (18 km) contour canal had consumed all the available funds.

Construction of the Canal began in 1807 and the first boat, the passenger boat, The Countess of Eglinton, was launched on the 31 October 1810. The passenger service initially only ran between Paisley and Johnstone.The full length to Glasgow's Port Eglinton was completed sometime in 1811. The original plans to extend the canal to Ardrossan were soon suspended. The costs of completing the first 11-mile (18km) contour canal had consumed all the available funds.

The canal was never completed down to Ardrossan, the terminii being Port Eglinton in Glasgow and Thorn Brae in Johnstone.

One suggestion is that the west gable becomes a canvas for a bas-relief depicting the route of the Glasgow-Ardrossan Canal as a galvanised silver-finished steel route map. The first “11 miles” would be wide solid bars representing a waterway route while the Johnstone -Ardrossan section would be twin silver bars to represent a railway track. Landmarks every 5km would be shown and key towns named. Shields Road would be a key reference point. The last known remnant was the gatehouse at Jewsons which disappeared some time ago -this was the gatehouse to the Canal Basin at Port Eglinton.

Marlaw “The Lawlor House”

Our final example of 21st century housing in Pollokshields features a new house at the edge of West Pollokshields.

Early concept sketch

When Mark and Natalie Lawlor first heard, over a chance dinner conversation with a friend in a Glasgow restaurant, that this vacant site in West Pollokshields was still up for sale, they believed fate had intervened.

At the time the couple were planning their relocation from Kirknewton in Midothian to Glasgow, and had been viewing properties in Pollokshields, an area they had fallen in love with and which had become their desired place of residence. The architectural heritage and the quiet, wide, tree-lined streets of this unique garden suburb, combined with the added bonus of its proximity to all amenities: city centre, motorways and airport, made it an ideal choice for their busy lifestyle, business needs, extended family and sense of urban architectural taste.

Yet they had also for some time held a dream of designing their own home, inspired by their love of classical modern architecture combined with a love of Spanish lifestyles: family-oriented spaces, daily swimming, and the pleasure of entertaining. Taking inspiration from timeless house design such as “Fallingwater” by the iconic American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, later echoed in the Lawlor House design, combined with a clear sense of what they wanted in terms of brief and requirements, the couple set out on their brave mission.

After purchasing the site they spent invaluable time researching the work of contemporary Scottish architects through the recommendation of a friend and by contacting the Lighthouse. Their criteria, which included clean, geometric lines and a timeless design, led them to Gareth Hoskins Architects (GHA), in particular through seeing the architects’ solution for The Duncan House, in Kinloch, Fife, for a private client, which seemed to synergise with the Lawlors’ own sense of style and design requirements. Thomas Johnstone, the Scottish contractors who won the tender, with their well-known attention to detail, built the house in close collaboration with Gareth Hoskins Project Architect Alistair Tooze, the project overseen by GHA Director Chris Coleman-Smith. Working closely together and in perfect harmony -both client and architect say this -the Lawlors and GHA made the dream become a reality in the shape and form of a truly stunning dwelling for the 21st Century and a contemporary interpretation of the ‘Grand Villa’, so much a part of Pollokshields tradition. The villa enhances the fabric of the neighbourhood and promotes the maintenance of the character and quality of this splendid suburb.

The new villa, which externally features sliding panels of buff limestone, render and glass contained within a folding precast concrete band, sits on a steeply sloping site, bounded on three sides by existing gardens, with a wooded public park on the western boundary. To avoid ‘overlooking’, accommodation is arranged around the private courtyard gardens that terrace down to the front entrance in response to the site slope. The line of the boundary wall continues into the main body of the building with a frameless glass wall, to form a covered entrance.

Set within the former orchard area of the adjacent ‘A’ listed Grand Villa, Beneffrey, one of the last and largest Edwardian villas to be developed in Pollokshields, in 1910, this modern villa, developed exactly one hundred years later in 2010, complements its neighbour by reflecting its “U” shape plan, yet has very much its own sense of place. Each villa is designed around its own private central courtyard setting, the courtyard in the Lawlor House being in the brief from the start, and both villas proudly facing each other with confidence, style and quality. Each features fine detail in the use of materials: stone, timber, glass and plasterwork.

Axonometric of Site and Access

Steps continue from the landscaped courtyards through the family living areas, linking internal and outside spaces. The building sits at the heart of the site, set back from the public park to create a clear approach and line of security. The existing listed boundary wall line is continued from the Avenue into the main body of the building to form a covered entrance area. Light has been maximised in the double height reception area and entertainment suite with cantilevered walnut staircases and a glazed lift providing access to bedroom suites.


Exterior Views of Entrance

Private Courtyard Gardens

The master bedroom on the third floor cantilevers over the drive and opens onto a south-facing roof terrace in response to the client's requirement for sunlight & views across Pollok Park and the distant hills. As well as six bedrooms with en suites and dressing rooms, accommodation required includes a fitness suite with pool, gym, sauna and steam room, a fully glazed family living / dining area and entertainment suite. The design includes a ground source heat pump, insulation exceeding building regulation requirements and sedum roof. . The villa is designed to allow separate access from the double height reception hall to both public and private areas. The private family wing, where their extended family frequently visits to stay, provides controlled ground and upper level access to the public area, a magnificent double height entertaining space with access directly to the entrance and to the pool and gym via the courtyard. The pool has controlled climate temperature and the decision was taken not to have a door directly from the pool out onto the courtyard in order to ensure that temperature control was not compromised.

Section through Master Bedroom

Section through Entertainment Space & Pool/Fitness Suite

Throughout the villa neutral colours and the simple, clean lines of natural Jura limestone, slate cladding, walnut and glass ensure a classic interior. Clever use of lighting inside and out, wi-fi and sound technology, fireplaces, gallery walkways and soft furnishings means a dinner party for four is as intimate as a party for a hundred guests. Even in the double height of the entertaining area, a sense of intimacy prevails.

Natalie spent time lovingly sourcing the interior fixtures and fittings, bringing her knowledge of good design to bear: clean geometric lines, neutral cool tones, complementary yet individual style throughout, combining leather, stone and glass with natural rich textured timbers. Natalie visited the Porcelanosa headquarters in Villareal, Spain, and carefully selected the fixtures and finishes that run throughout the villa, from the kitchen fittings to the unique bathroom solutions. Each bedroom is self-contained with its own south-facing balcony and unique bathroom design en suite, including “his and hers” in the master bedroom suite, The huge range of choices in the Porselanosa catalogue means each one is different yet harmonious in terms of style, tone and materials. Being able to chat to family or guests while cooking was a “must”, and the family living area succeeds in this superbly, while the offset adjacent TV room is unobtrusive yet very accessible to the open plan sitting/dining/kitchen area. Her excellent taste is reflected in the Italian elegant Natuzzi leather furniture, Roche Bobois lamps, fly bar stools by Calligaris, and unique objets d’art throughout, including a limited edition sculpture in the main reception hall, “Gravity”, designed by the acclaimed Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn, Anthony Quinn’s son.

Living Area view to Kitchen/Dining

Calligaris Fly Bar Stools in Kitchen

Entertainment Suite

Guest Bedroom

Entrance Reception

Cantilevered timber staircases with structural glass balustrades and a glazed lift maximise light in the double height reception area whilst providing access to bedroom suites. The cantilevered stair glass balustrade detail was designed by IPIG, specialists in glass engineering.

Stairs from Bedroom Suite

Natalie says this is to be their home for life and a dream come true. “That’s why we put in the lift. So we can still be living here when we are old!” Pollokshields Heritage welcomes the Lawlors and their beautiful home, now part of our Heritage tours, and applauds their brave and bold work in keeping alive the tradition of innovative house design in Pollokshields. Both client and architects described this as a “dream project” and this shows in the final solution.

Clients: Mark and Natalie Lawlor
Architects: Architects: Gareth Hoskins Architects; Lucy Beltran Dos Santos, Chris Coleman-Smith, Marja Eden, Gareth Hoskins, Graeme Nicholls, Alasdair Tooze.
Photography: Andrew Lee; Natalie Lawlor

Helen McNamara
March 2012