Howdens Works Scotland Street

The Video – 9D

Our first concepts for our video began with the idea of treating the buildings as you would treat people. A memento mori type of tradition, represented in visual form by someone passing all these decrepit and at risk buildings, before arriving at a graveyard, leaving flowers, and at our building graveyard where bricks and beams are being left. As to represent how these buildings would be memorialised in the same treatment humans have.

However, with the much more radical idea to obliterate the buildings if nothing is being done about them, some of our footage had to be adapted. Thankfully our brilliant creative minds worked out a way to use the footage that we had already shot – in reverse.

Flowers are used to pay respects to people – disrespecting the flowers would then show your lack of care to said person, or in this case, said buildings. It would start out with the flowers taken from the graveyard, as to symbolise the lack of care for the buildings, that no respects will be payed to them anymore. The  flowers are then taken through the city, past all these disregarded and uncared for buildings, sure to be soon demolished. Ending in arriving at the site of Howden’s – the Building Cemetery – where others are waiting in like to throw away parts of memorable buildings, just as the flowers are to be thrown away, evident by the tossing of them straight into the bin. No care to them, just as there has been no care to the at risk buildings.

September 18th 3:47 pm

You Say You Care, But You Don’t – 9D

Again after our second tutorial we had some tweaking to do to our concept. The concept was clear enough in our minds but it was not necessarily clear to an audience, especially when it would be exhibited in a room of so many other concepts. Ours still seemed to subtle and didn’t stand out enough.

Despite all our own personal opinions, we knew controversy was the way to go. From what was firstly decided to be a sweet homage to these crumbling buildings, where those who loved and cherished them could re visit a physical prescence of them as a chance to hold onto a relive such great memories from the past. Was now to become a striking depiction of what society has done to these buildings, simply by the lack of doing anything.

The slogan “you say you care, but you don’t” was thrown about viciously to describe how we would now perceive the cemetery. No longer a place of worship, it would be a scrap pile on a crumbling site of a building at risk, filled with all the broken pieces, especially the historically recognisable ones, of the other at risk buildings around the city. It would symbolise the disregard and lack of care for these so called ‘beloved’ structures.

So many say they would hate to see these buildings fall, hate to see them go to waste. But do they then do anything about that? Even the people in a position to do something about it, aren’t (we’re looking at you national heritage trust). We’ve decided to make a statement against the misuse and neglect of these valuable buildings which paved the way for Glasgow today. If nothing is done about them, action is taken, instead of being left empty to rot, they might as well be gone.

Instead of being looked at as an opportunity, they are scorned at, as dirty, as old, as ugly, as unsaveable. We would love to be able to visit them and use them and bask in the glory of such history but instead we witness each brick crumble as each day passes. Why leave them to stagnate when there is no saviour for them? Instead we see a scrap pile in a derelict locale in the south side of Glasgow. Let’s see who cares enough when it shows what little has been done, and what that means for these structures in the end, when they live out what could have been a regeneration of their life in a scrap heap instead. Something we find fitting – tossed on a pile, with just as much disregard as they were shown whilst they were standing.

September 18th 3:34 pm

Discussion – 9A

Our brain was fried when it came to how we were going to go about the project especially when it came to the video making part. The only thing that helped us to stay alive during this time was lots of coffees and teas. At first, we were discussing the site, talking about the history and it came to our intentions that the history of the building would be our focal point for the project “At Risk”. With that being said we were not going to ignore the future of the site either. The future for the Howden was stemming towards a housing development. We were “against” this idea as the street lacks a sense of community and it is in an awkward location. However, we thought a housing complex would also be a good idea as this could mean more people would pay more attention to the street and maybe make the street less daunting especially at night.

Originally, we discussed questions relating to the site such as What will happen to the building? Will the developer keep the building? Is it a good idea for a housing development? Aesthetically, we would love if some part of the façade would still remain – as it has distinctive curvatures and interesting ranges of building heights. The building had an extremely rich history, for example ship building and engines therefore it would be a good idea to put things such as ship engines into the video.

We then worked out how the questions could be incorporated into the clip. This was not the only idea for the video; we also thought it would be interesting to include our journey to the site.

Later that day we had our Q&A. We were relieved to find out that our final outcome doesn’t have to have a definite answer or outcome and it could be anything we like.



September 18th 3:09 pm

9A The History of the Howden

Howdens building on Scotland Street was built to accommodate James Howden and Co. Engineers. Nisbet Sinclaire was the engineer on the build alongside Bryden and Dykes and Robertson as architects. Originally the building consisted of a single storey, two storey attic, mansard roofed with steel frame appeared later. After 1918 the site expanded further. Howdens is one of the last remaining examples of Victorian engineering work in Scotland. The machine that was used to dig out the Channel Tunnel was born here – in the “red-brick” complex.

The company began in 1856 when James Howden set up his own business as a consulting engineer and a registered patent for machine tools where he began experimenting with axial flow fans to force air into the marine engines. Marine parts such as fans, blowers, compressors, turbines and many more was built here. From the early part of 1940, The Howden Factories were used to build Sunderland flying boat hulls. When the war broke out, Scotland Street employed more than 1700 workers. Unfortunately, the complex survived to 1988 and ever since then it had become a mysterious place filled with many unanswered questions as to what the next step would be.

In the present day, the site had been sold and owed by Tiger Developments with an estimate price of £10million. What is going to happen to it …… ?

September 18th 2:05 pm

Building Cemetery – 9D

After our first tutorial it was brought to out attention that our previous concept – Building At Refuge – may not be as creative as the brief may allow. The tutors suggested something that would be less subtle, more controversial, and more attention grabbing. This was when we recalled one of our previous ideas – a graveyard for buildings. At first we tried to combine the ideas, maybe a show of these buildings as you came in, realising that this place was acting as a temporary saviour for these places because this is what has happened to them. However, we didn’t want to overcomplicate it and knew the graveyard would be the more creative choice.

We would transform Howdens works into a place for dead and dying buildings to rest. All the buildings at risk we have come across in the past week, when their life is inevitably over we can take pieces of them to the cemetery and allow them to live on their. Memorialising them with an object, just as would be done a person.

The buildings would likely be demolished and the expanse of the run down Howdens works would become an expanse of rows of building material from every locale, to be able to pay respects to. Some may question if this is simply a museum, to which we would answer that surely a museum housing large stones of buildings that no longer exist, is named such but in fact is using a tombstone of sorts to respect the building, rather more similar to a graveyard or architecture than a ‘museum’.

September 18th 12:55 pm

9A Site Visit

In the beginning of our project, we concentrated on the site – The Howden building on Scotland Street. We had arranged to meet at the site on Tuesday Morning in a group of 6. Luckily the subway station was right outside our locale therefore we did not need to walk far. When we first arrived, we noticed right away that there was a lack of community as people were nowhere to be seen. The only sound we heard was cars. As we went further into the site, we understood why the project “At Risk” is related to our locale. Initially the site looked abandoned and we did not think much of it. The building was beginning to fall apart however the façade remain robust even although the aesthetics of the bricks suggest otherwise.  To get a better look around the building, we went inside the land to explore the building and we discovered items such as sleeping bags and street art. We also discovered that the building is undergoing a project development.

We went back to the tent later that day and we discussed the building further concentrating on the existing building; its past, present and future. Some of our keywords we brainstormed which relates to the site were material, forms, existing use site in relation to the city, building history, future etc.



September 18th 12:45 pm

Buildings At Refuge – 9D

After exploring the wider locale around our site. It was noticed that there were more buildings at risk. One that particularly stood out to us was the Citizens Theatre. It was not at risk in the sense of the others, because it was undergoing works to right any risk that was there. However, it was due to the risks that could become bigger that it has had to undergo such treatments. This then added risk of closing for 2 years, for losing custom for 2 years, and risking 2 years of bankruptcy and demolition of the community they had built.

Thus, we proposed a Building Refuge. The site on which stood Howdens Works, would become a place of sanctuary for the citizens theatre whilst they undergo renovations. If a performance has no home, we will provide for it. Not only will it help them whilst they go through their own changes, but it will also help attract more people to our smaller local and possibly even start to build a wider artistic community around Scotland Street.

Precedents included ‘Theatre on the Fly’ a creation by assemble of a makeshift performance space – a temporary venue for a season of new theatre. Ours would not resemble such a protective, sturdy and built up structure, and would instead be housed under the rickety roof of the former Howdens Factory, however that was the risk we wanted to keep. With that general concept still remaining similar – a temporary home for a theatre.

We also realised we could make this expand to the even wider community that would include all of Glasgow. Creating an initiative to be a temporary salvage centre and buffer space for local buildings that need a temporary home, relative to their own locale. Eg. in Howdens we propose a refuge for nearby citizens theatre – which requires a space during its 2 year restoration, building a temporary home with seats and staging. Other places needing salvage may include, the art school, the 02 abc and Victorias night club, all of which could be rehoused temporarily in an at risk building within their locale.

We also felt this could follow the theme of risk – risking if it will work, or still remain empty, risks for the wider community of its success or controversy, and risking creating a new community – how that might function, as well as the risk of providing something temporary and on such short notices in such at risk places.



September 18th 12:39 pm

Initial Ideas – 9D

We didn;t want to be so boring and predictable as to assume we should make the site some sort of mixed used, cafe and leisure space, as so many of these already exist and is such a copy and paste method of development for large open sites such as this. Instead some of our initial concepts stemmed from what we could see our clientele being. Our options were limited as the area is rather scarcely populated. And at that, only by park and ride commuters or graffiti artists. Since the commuters aren’t actually using or interested in the area we realised the only people who are choosing to use the site and surroundings are the graffiti artists.

From there we broadened our target, based on this knowledge, to possible artsier types. If graffiti artists will come there because there is space to create, maybe dancers will come there to dance in the space, and those seeking something different, out of the mainstream and hidden away will come there because no one else does.

In turn this sparked ideas about the already existing underground scene. Places such as Lunacy, Incognito or Checkmate, to name a few, are out of the way of the city centre, of public knowledge, of the mainstream nighttime scene. They are in areas where high movement and high noise is not as much of a risk. That it will not be noticed by the ordinary individual.

Similarly this idea of high movement and high noise was intriguing to us. We were situated in an area with little to no people around, a motorway on one side, a train track on the other and a subway rattling underneath. The high noise aspect was already prevalent, so this would not be an issue. All we then had to bring was the high movement, which we already new would not disrupt anything locally. And it was already in an undiscovered area, something which these ‘hipster’ communities, the clientele of such underground scenes, thrive on.

However, with such a big site, would it have been too big to house just a club? We broadened our horizons once more, looking at day use too. Possibly a skate park? There was large open space and plenty of level changes to be of use. Maybe to retain space for the graffiti artists to as they seem to have already grown somewhat of an artists community around it, it would only be fair to allow them their space to create.

Or maybe it could have been less organic art? A large manufactured gallery space? Even and organic gallery space? Whatever it would be we knew it would be following an artistic route. We also focused on the ‘risk’ aspect. It would be a risk to let the artistic side grow organically, to not touch the building at all, or make it seem so at least. People like risk so although it could be made technically safe, their could be the literal and metaphorical facade of risk – with the underground scene and the ‘crumbling’ walls making for this.

All these ideas we had flowing sounded great but we could not decide on one, or take one to a creative, out of the box enough, level. We then realised we should look around the wider locale.

September 18th 11:25 am

Textures – 9D

Through our own exploration of the site, the most prevalent points visually, were the abundance of textures. Including the wall engulfing graffiti, the peeling wood, crumbling brick and rusting metal.

We feel a story can be told from this. That the character of what Howdens once might have been and what is now, is captured well through this. For example, on a case of gradually disintegrating stone stairs you can picture the workers ascending them to start their day, just after entering through the tall steel gates. Or maybe rushing down them to attend to a machine break at the very back of the factory.

The brick walls too likely hold so much history and knowledge if they could speak. From the people who first laboriously laid red brick onto red brick, through sweat, tears and rain. As well as the workers who would have lent on them for maybe a quick, or only possible break they may have during a 12 hour work day. The walls they saw every day, that housed such a famous company back in the 1900s, that is barely, if even, known by today’s generation.

Now these stairs are hanging by their final thread, one step away from demolition. Forgotten and disused. Though the character persists. Parts of missing staircase allow us to explicitly see the negative growth of the parts of this machine that was Howdens. Although a sorry sight, the timeline is still evident and portrays just how abandoned and un cared for this building has been for so long. 100 years ago no Howdens worker would have guessed it would be so empty, and that it’s story would not be one of high movement, high noise, success and futures, but instead it would tell one more harrowing, of unkempt, abandonment and ignorance.

To the walls, who still experience the painstaking work, but by a different type of craftsman. Whose tool is not a trowel and mortar but a spray can and a mask. The graffiti artists who’ve claimed their territory on Howdens Works have also added a bright spark of life to it, transforming the dulling red brick into waves of texture that accentuate the journey through the site – whilst the rest seems to be falling apart around you. It may not have been intended for this, but even the simplest of art and texture has given this site a purpose, for its modern day engineers, whilst it was ignored by everyone else.

This also adds to the debate over listed buildings. With the view that they are listed for reason being to retain their history. Older buildings are under more attack from weathering and destruction as the materials are already under stress, becoming weaker with every gust of wind and every drop of rain. Being listed means these materials are to be protected and kept alive at all costs. But why? From this perspective, it is seen that these sorts of buildings hold in their walls a lot of history and a lot of stories. From simply the style of the period, to the intricate stone carvings, each building has a right to tell its story. Each building has a place in Glasgow’s history. A city should not look fake and manufactured. Glasgow was not built entirely in the 21st century so why should it look as so? Modern buildings should show the development of this period, but just as equally as existing buildings from pre-21st century should show their’s. Keeping them enhances the fabric of the city, it gives it layers and depth, which all contribute to its atmosphere and sense of character, showing life back then, as well as what it has become.


September 18th 10:55 am

Page/Park And Ride – 9D

Howdens’ closure in 1988 meant it lay empty for a while. Though due to the company’s fame of expertise in engineering, after the factory closed there were talk of proposals at one point for an industry and technology museum to be created. However the next purpose of the site would not be as close to home as this, instead Page/Park propose a ‘mixed use’ development – consisting of housing units as well as meeting places and cafes.

From the visualisations it is clear that most of the historic entrances and stonework will be replaced. At first this seemed unfortunate, but they are possibly unsafe or unusable and Page/Park still seem to be retaining the victorian aesthetic of the site, which we were glad to see, as losing or covering up the depth of history on the site would be disheartening.

Although it gives a permanent purpose to the site, bringing far more life than it’s seen in the last few decades, and not allowing the site to be forgotten or demolished. It still raises doubts in places like if it will actually attract any custom. The locale as of now does not consist of much community or neighbourhood, with the only footfall really being commuters using the park and ride facility of the subway, motorists, cyclists, and occasional visitors to the school museum. The area lacks in any inhabitants, with no flats or houses in sight, only travel routes and open land.

For this reason, we feel Page/Park’s scheme may not be the most logical proposal, not only is it not the most desirable area to live, but there is no sense of community. The park and ride is the most community and most prevalent ‘building’ in the area, with it’s modern metal decor, and 4 stories packed with neighbourly business cars. The population of the area currently, sadly but surely only consist of those cars parked for the day, before they’re sure to leave, but return another day. Much like the area, never a permanent home for anyone but visited often for a short time. There are no local shops doctors or places of leisure. The nearest school is at least a 20 minute drive away. And the noise from the motorway, subway and train in all directions does not make for the warmest suburban atmosphere.

The fact that you can build cafes or houses anywhere, does not mean you should.      Yes the area may be clearly lacking in these facilities. But with reason. People have chosen not to live there, work there, or relax there. People have chosen to commute there. It would only be giving people one reason to come to the area and with so many other places close-by for leisure activities, and affordable housing in nicer, more neighbourly areas, it will need to be seen to be believed if Page/Park’s proposal will attract, or maybe even kickstart, a community within Scotland Street.

September 18th 1:13 pm