Lion Chambers

Lion Chambers Oberservations

Lion Chambers, Hope Street, Glasgow. Constructed between 1904 and 1907 using the pioneering Hennebique System. Now an invisible, unappreciated building.


The building has a very interesting form, especially for the material that its made from; reinforced concrete. It is a tall building, taller than the majority of other buildings on that section of Hope Street and yet the members of our group who say they have passed by it daily have never really noticed it. The building is also situated on a main artery in Glasgow, we all noted the high amount of pedestrian activity that passed the building. These were a few of the observations that we made at our initial site visit.


After our initial site visit, we undertook some secondary research to allow us to understand the building and its historical links to the city. We found out that the building was constructed using the Hennebique System. The Hennebique System is a unique method of concrete construction and the Lion Chambers was the second building of its kind in Scotland. It was also significant as an early example of the shared workspaces between academic professionals and artists which has become near commonplace in our society.


Our approach varied from pragmatism to idealism. Initial concepts included turning Hope Street into a pedestrianized green space; knocking down the Lion Chambers and creating a small pocket of calm in a busy city and keeping the building as it is and using it as a vehicle to create awareness of decaying buildings in Glasgow. The last concept is the one we chose to explore further as a group.

September 18th 10:36 am

There is beauty in ruin, an expression of time, a monument to what once was, a thread in the fabric of the city. However, as time progresses, the same building that once thrived with life slowly can become void, lifeless and neglected. The Lion Chambers, a building once considered to be at the forefront of new building technology and design, is now considered to be a building ‘at risk’ and is left empty, decaying and unstable. Covered in a steel mesh and boarded up windows, the Lion Chambers is, for the most part, ignored and unnoticed by passers-by. A listed building, with an unstable structure and multiple owners leaves the Lion Chambers vulnerable, sitting silently, waiting, in a sort of limbo. ‘At Risk’ buildings, such as this one, are often seen wrapped in scaffolding and mesh to protect, maintain and ensure the safety of the public and of the building itself. With a growing habit of ignoring these derelict buildings there is the potential to put many other old structures at risk.

With an uncertain future and no clear plans for this building we have proposed an alternative method to the ordinary procedure of securing derelict buildings. Our concept is to radicalise this process of preservation in a way which brings life back to the building, engages the public and lends a new presence to the building within the city of Glasgow. With the installation of mirrored surfaces and various lighting, The Lion Chambers could become a fascinating node amongst the cityscape. The proposed skin could be used in many different ways, as a blank canvas for artists or as a way to reflect back the city of Glasgow. This treatment of derelict buildings could become a prototype for other buildings at risk throughout the city and beyond.
September 18th 10:32 am

Lion Chambers

Lion Chambers is a building of unique composition and construction. Its value is reflected in its A-listed status. Since 2009 the building has stood inactive; its studios deserted, its windows blinded, its doorways barred, and its facade peeling and crumbling. Graffiti and posters decorate its lower floors, its porches host a city dump. The resident pigeons wonder at their luck while nesting sheltered and undisturbed in the upper floors.

The slumbering building’s aura seeps out into the streets. The air of neglect spreads insidiously along the pavements and up the walls. Pedestrians hurry by while inside the delicate walls and light-filled rooms disintegrate with no one to witness their last stand. The clock is ticking.

In the interim there is stagnation. Lion Chambers is in limbo. What if we sell it? What if we raze it? What if we restore it? What if we replace it? …or what if we risk nothing at all?

September 18th 10:26 am