Piano Showroom

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Piano Showroom Exhibition

After two (2) weeks of hard work, is finally time for the presentation. Group 1 ( The Piano Showroom ) pulled it trough.

Doing the Vertical Project has been a good experience, allowing us to work with different people, and not only learn with them but also we were able to present our ideas and implement a new proposal for the building at risk.

September 18th 10:50 am


During the survey we find out that most people didn’t really have an opinion on the site, (maybe because they were students that just moved in).However, there was one person who thought all the buildings both on Sauchiehall Street and Renfrew street should be demolished; as he believed it was a waste of space and he also believed the streets should be painted in bright colours. As we know, sauchiehall street is mainly populated by students who come because of  the cheap bars and cafes.  From the research we carried out, we found out sauchiehall hall street  was a lot busier at 7:00pm than at 10:00am because people were coming back from work, going in and out of bars and finally trying to enjoy the solitude of the city; the construction workers had stopped working at that time. However the picture above doesn’t exactly showcase the business of the street. 

(Group 1A)

September 18th 10:42 am

Initial Ideas

After going to the site a couple times,  we started to get a real understanding of the existing  community and the building as a whole. we all expressed our ideas in different ways; when one might be taking a photo of the 520 building,overlaying it with tracing paper and doing a simplified outline of it in pen: to get a better understanding of the site, another might be “exploding” each section of the building and trying to figure out, how to utilise the space effectively to get more people to the site


We also used the site plan as a template, to have a rough idea of the building’s size and to have a fair idea on what they inside of the building would have looked like , due to time constraints, we were unable to take exact  measurements ourselves. After each member came up with an idea, we tried to merge everyone’s design concept into one; the recurring theme was private, semi-private and  public space. However, as a group we decided to convert the building into mainly a golf course(public space) with a few private spaces , as it would appeal to a broader target market and it also has its own call to action.

(Group 1A)

September 18th 12:22 pm

Is escaping being in limbo ?

The piano showroom is everywhere at the same time. It has a face on Sauchiehall street and on Renfrew Street. What is going on between these two facades ? Showroom, cinemas, softporn cinema, clubs. This place has many secrets and memories. We tried to understand why people were actually coming to this place. And the answer was: TO ESCAPE.

We developed this idea and took it to other scales and thought of what escapism could be and mean. Its relation to time, movement, visions, etc.

Zooming out, we realised that this area of the city was right next to the motorway, dividing the city in two parts: the Centre and the West End. Considering the motorway as a limbo place, could it therefore become a place to escape, just like the piano showroom ?

(Group 1D)

September 18th 11:51 am

Piano Showroom (Former)


As in every city, there’s always a street with a building that contains a history behind it. The 520, Previously a piano showroom (former), then it became a cinema (Vitagraph, King’s, Newscine, Curzon, Curzon Classic and Tatler), to be a nightclub.

When we first saw the building, it didn’t look like something interesting, apart from the outside details in Sauchiehall and Renfrew Street, such as the greek details, the muses, the bust of Beethoven in the rear entrance of the building, so in the beginning we had a bit of a struggle to find inside images of the building, but we did find several detailed plans, sections and elevations of the 520, that lead as to the development of a proposal for the building the at risk.

September 18th 8:56 am

Factors Affecting Development

With the aid of research, we discovered Sauchiehall street has undergone a lot of changes in the past 12 decades, it was once occupied by wealthy merchants in grand villas, and seen as a high end street ,however it has become “student friendly”, in a sense of, there are lots of cheap flats, bars and shops in the area. The 520 building quickly evolved from a genteel piano showroom designed by David Paton Law in 1896 to a throbbing nightclub and finally the dilapidated building we have today.

Its past identities can still be seen in the:  Greek details, iconic columns and sculptured torch bearers round the entrance, the Greek goddess of peace and love overlooking the vacility and at the back, there’s a bust of Beethoven looming over the back entrance in Renfrew street. We have also considered the different types of services existing in the area already, which led us to the agreement that the 520 building would not be converted into a shop, as it would have to compete with well established shops in the area, which would lead to its downfall.

The piano showroom has problems deriving from consumerism and economic growth. This is a risk that affects architecture in general and is subject to discussion because of the contradictory nature of design. What can the architect do if there is no consumerism?. Another question that affected our thought process is , how would we get more people to come to the site? and how would we build a community?

(Group 1A)

September 18th 11:57 am

First Impressions

The first time we saw the site, We  didn’t really think much of it, it seemed like the typical dilapidated and abandoned building; the site had vandalism all over it, the exterior walls are partially covered in dust and debris, the bricks that were once whole, were beginning to fall apart and was covered in moss and the window was cracked. Even the entrance was covered with what seems to be bird poo, and used cigarettes.

However, empty bottles were lined up in front of the site’s window, which suggests the site might have been a bar. The site’s area is also under construction, which struck up the idea of the building maybe also having a different purpose prior to being used as a bar

(Group 1A)


September 18th 8:48 pm

Original Floor Plans for The Piano Showroom

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Layout plan of ground floor when used as the despatch area for the Glasgow Herald

September 18th 4:32 pm

Group Site Visit

Exterior View of The Piano Showroom

The plan above was prepared solely for the fitting out of the newspaper plant. The original construction drawings and blueprints allowed for flexibility in any proposed use of this floor.

The notice below was published in the Glasgow Herald of 30th January 1895, when the building was approaching completion. It offered space to rent, including the ground level which was eventually fitted out as the newspaper production area, part of which is shown in the above drawing. The ground floor was offered to let “as a whole or divided for Shops”

September 18th 4:00 pm

Historical Research

Behind the despatch area the fully automated Hoe “Double Sextuple Press” could print, cut, fold and deliver 24 page editions of the Herald at the rate of 56,000 copies an hour, or 12 page editions at 112,000 copies per hour! This was the largest press in the world at the time, introduced in 1903 by the firm of R. Hoe & Company of New York City and London.

In the early days of production the newspaper was created from Caxton’s patented hand presses. Steam powered presses were introduced in the 1840’s, capable of printing 1500 copies of a four-page newspaper per hour.

By accident or design, the completion of the new Herald premises coincided with the massive improvements in the technology behind newspaper production.

Notice in Glasgow Herald 30th January 1895, offering Mitchell Street premises to let

September 18th 4:33 pm