Caledonia Road Church

Initial findings: 13b

Architectural Interests:

Caledonia Road United Presbyterian Church built in 1856 was the ‘peak’ project of Alexander Thomson considered by Ronald Mcfadzean. The Church is situated on a podium, which is Thomson’s solution regarding the heavy traffic at this junction. The ground level facades contain limited decoration and the windows in podium are also located just above the pedestrian human height.

The Local Community:

To gain a true sense of what it is like to live in this area we interviewed some locals;
We walked with two elderly women Ann and Angela during one late afternoon. They have been living in the apartment on Pollokshaws Rd until now. Their apartment is about 80 meters southwest to the church and is cut off from its surroundings by three primary traffic routes. They said it was frustrating that the Church was always out of repair and in a position of risk since they were born. Until recently nothing of interest happens in this area.
Indicated by another couple, Robert and Tracy, 80%-85% inhabitants here are Elderly. The impermeability of the site and lack of close public social areas and activities negatively impact community life.

The North New Residential Blocks:

The apartment area north to Cumberland street contains large blocks ranging from 50 to 120 meters long, and between 3-5 floors heigh. There are small gaps of 1-3 meters in-between some apartments. Fences are elected within the gaps which further indicates a hostile environment.

Vandalized Trains Track Arches to the South:

Not only is the traffic a significant issue in this area, but the poor physical condition of the surrounding buildings and infrastructure mean people lack the desire to spend time here. Many of the archway spaces are available for rent and while some are used for small businesses (a garage and a takeaway) most are used as storage, which are all locked by fences. Vandalism is also apparent in the unused archway spaces with some appearing to be inhabited at night by the homeless.

The Newer Residential Blocks to the East:
The tenement housing area east to Laurieston Road are of a smaller scale compared to the area north of Cumberland Street. The front doors of households are directly connected to the street. Houses mixed with small apartment blocks are situated in a crescent alongside a park and playground in the centre. The dense trees followed by a car park next to the main road thoroughfare blocks the noise and creates a barrier between residence and traffic. Whilst initially appearing to improve the area, this barrier also discourages the east-west pedestrian access to the Church.
We spoke to a young mother, Sarah, who moved into this area half an year ago. Her usual walking route is towards the east and she rarely ventures across the ‘island’ where the church is located.

Overall, the three residential areas adjacent to Caledonia Church don’t have common activities as a larger community.

September 18th 11:28 am

13C Update 5: Iteration

Draft Sheets

Draft sheets

As we are approaching the end of the MSA Vertical Project: At Risk team 13C are now creating iterations of our sheets to try and convey our message as clearly as possible. Our current draft sheets prepared for our final tutorial show a lot of information about all of the paths which we have worked down to come to where we are now and will possibly be simplified and streamlined before the exhibition on Thursday. Whilst addressing many side themes which have come to us through the process of discovering Caledonia Road Church (a history of redevelopment and community break up; a loss of useful function within the site; etc.) the main issue of traffic seems to have been lost. This is something that we aim to bring back to the forefront of our proposal in the final version.

September 18th 11:13 am

13C Update 4: Production

As we enter the second week of the MSA Vertical project: At Risk our group starts to pull together our work into first drafts of the outputs for the project.

We decided to present mostly our investigation and evaluation of our research in the video output where as in the sheets we will convey our ideas about how we would change the area.

First draft sheet

First draft sheet


Video Teaser 1

Video Teaser 2


September 18th 12:22 pm

13C Update 3: Evaluation

Scaffolding concept sketch

Caledonia Road Church as the potential to be a community hub and centre of life for a neighborhood once more as it would have been when it served surrounding tenement flats as a church.. While the nearby neighborhoods evolved, the burned out church as remained practically unchanged since the fire in 1965 and has lost its relevance within the community. Our group proposes to give the church a new purpose to allow it to be used by today’s residents of the Gorbals and Laurieston.

Scaffolding concept 

To be a catalyst for permanent change in the site we decided to create an intervention that was temporary but radical so as to pique the interest of the residents. The new purpose for the site is fun.

In the short term scaffolding will be used to explore the building at different levels while not affecting the building itself. Platforms and walkways will allow visitors to use the building in a new way and get a perspective on their own neighborhood that was not seen before.

With continued use of Caledonia Road Church and its site we hope that the area is once again adopted by the communities which surround it which would in turn change the area for the better.

A return to the past

The reduction in car use predicted for the coming decades and the car being the main issue that we have identified, paired with a new influx of people into the site, has potential to change the entire locale.

Potential organic development

September 18th 10:58 am

Group 13D : Site Visit


Group 13 reached the site by individual ways from home and started to explore the old church ruin. Along the closed railway next to the building, the site gives a  quiet and still air around the area. Even though it is no more used, its distinctive atmosphere embrace us to look it up in detail. The “Greek” Thomson’s eclectic design with Ionic columns still remains on the South façade.

Since it was built in 1856, the church may take a significant role of attracting people from various places not only from the local area. After the fire by vandalism, the site context has been drastically changed with the demographic factors and a local trend. Apart from the refined residential buildings from the East side of the site, a current building stands on an isolated locale between two traffic roads. A building door is just occasionally open to the public for a short time now.

As one of the remains by a pre-eminent architect from Glasgow, Caledonia Road Church still have a important value in its location and architectural form. Our group considered the potential of site with a thought about the problematic risks upon the site.

September 18th 10:47 pm

13C Update 2: Investigation

Reaction sketch

“The cars are strangling the building”

Having decided that the main problem with the site, and the reason that it is not being used, is that it is surrounded by cars we started our investigation by looking for other places in the city where cars and pedestrians exist in harmony.  Thinking that a possible solution could be to pedestrianise one or both of the roads or reduce the volume of traffic on them we also investigated a similar building, the old St Enochs subway station, now a coffee shop, which is still in use – we hypothesise because of how easy it is to access by foot. Potentially if our building, Caledonia Road Church,  was more easily accessible it could be used more widely for a new purpose in the same way.

Subway station given a new life as a coffee shop


Cars and pedestrians at Charing Cross


The lack of pedestrian activity could also be attributed to the high provision of  parking in the nearby residential developments such as the New Gorbals and Laurieston Living, encouraging residents to commute by car. Both of the nearby neighbourhoods, the Gorbals and Laurieston, seem to turn their back on this small patch of green space discouraging their residents to use it. This is exaggerated especially on the East side by a large wall and hedge creating a hard boundary between the site and the New Gorbals. 


September 18th 4:25 pm

13C Update 1: Site Visit

Caledonia Road Church

The first challenge of this project when we arrived at Caledonia Road church was accessing its site, an island surrounded by busy roads. What we found, upon closer inspection was a beautiful old church left to fall into disrepair seemingly forgotten by the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Caledonia Road Church sits on a triangular site sandwiched between the A728 and the A730; to its East The Gorbals, to its West Laurieston. The site itself seeming to be a no mans land with neither neighbourhood claiming it as their own. Currently, due to the heavy traffic and openness of the site to the surrounded roads, it is overwhelmed by traffic noise and generally not a pleasant place to be.

Our first instinct was the question what the area would be like without so many cars and came to the conclusion that it would likely have a completely opposite atmosphere.



September 18th 3:32 pm