The inaugural RIAS/Saint-Gobain Emerging Architect Award recognises the crucial role architects play in delivering a better world and encourages the great architects of the future at the outset of their careers.
We speak to Sarah Jane Storrie, this year’s winner, to find out a bit more about the project and her role at Page\Park Architects in Glasgow.
What inspired you to become an architect?
I have always loved drawing, making and all things design, so architecture seemed like a natural career choice. I went to Edinburgh College of Art and graduated with BA Arch Dip in 2005, becoming a fully qualified architect in 2007 while working at LDN Architects before joining my current practice, Page\Park Architects in 2008.
Since my time at university, I have mostly worked on adaptive re-use of listed buildings, and have RIAS Accreditation in Conservation Architecture.
The Saunders Centre is one of the few new builds I have worked on so far in my career, but the challenge of how this new piece of architecture could slot in to the historic context of Glasgow’s west End Conservation area was really exciting for me.
I am very humbled but delighted to have won the RIAS/Saint-Gobain Emerging Architect Award and see this as a reflection of the success of the Saunders Centre.
Tell us a bit more about one of Page\Park’s RIAS Award winning entries, The Saunders Centre
The Saunders Centre is a new Science and Technology Teaching Building for the Glasgow Academy. The requirement for a new Science and Technology Building arose from the client’s current needs and expectations to keep abreast of the most advanced teaching in the sciences and has resulted in a significant and substantial new urban block for The Glasgow Academy.
It was crucial to our client to deliver an inspirational learning environment for pupils and staff, taking into account the wellbeing and comfort of those using the building on a regular basis.
The building includes a new auditorium with 178 capacity and support facilities. Suitable for both lectures and small performances, this space is available for use by the wider community complemented by a generous foyer that wraps around the sculptural elliptical form.
Surmounting this floor of teaching, and lecture spaces and catering for the shared spaces (served by a new HE lab) is a floor each for Physics, Biology and Chemistry. On each upper floor four general teaching and a sixth year lab are arranged along a glazed break out and bay windowed passage overlooking the historic main school.
This overall setting has benefitted from our briefing and interiors team working throughout with the school to design every aspect from the laboratory layouts to the break out study spaces. The design of fittings, selection of loose furniture and graphic working of the glazed partitions and way finding bring together both the architecture and interior.
The reinforced concrete structural frame is clad in a pattern of precast polished and honed finishes, in a modular assembly that rises from a ground floor pilaster faced open foyer, through a sequence of bay windows to a reinterpretation of the Glasgow dormer at roof level.
The project, situated in a sensitive conservation area, required careful negotiation with both the local authority and residents through the process. The Academy hosted regular community meetings to engage with, inform and mitigate any concerns surrounding the project. This process strengthened these community relationships and allowed the project to progress smoothly.
What was your involvement in The Saunders Centre?
To answer this question, I should explain how we work at Page\Park. We operate within a relatively flat structure of operational teams that we call, Centres of Gravity (cogs), these teams overlap, to make the most of expertise across the practice, and are supported by other teams that are responsible for areas such as resources, finance, future work, graphics to name a few. The Cogs are Arts and Culture, Creative Workspace, Places to Live, Conservation, City & Land and Briefing & Interiors, reflecting the wide variety of sectors that we work across.
I am Depute of the Briefing and Interiors cog. In my role as Depute of Briefing & Interiors, I support the Head of the cog and others in the team, in developing and implementing new client briefing techniques and ensure the practice apply a rigour to the design of our interiors by discussing ideas and sharing products. We believe that briefing and interiors are intrinsically linked as they tell us about the character and activities of the Client and allow us to feed these requirements in to the form architecture. The Saunders Centre is a product of this connectivity of expertise.
Page\Park has been working with The Glasgow Academy since 2009 – initially on a masterplan for their campus which identified the site and use for the Saunders Centre.
My involvement began in 2011 when I worked along side colleagues on initial briefing sessions with the pupils, staff and management. I took on role as Project Architect shortly after this and worked along side more of my colleagues to develop a proposal, obtain planning and building warrant before preparing tender and construction drawings. From the drawing preparation stage, there was a core team of three of us working on the project to take to site. The construction period ran from demolition of the existing building on the site in July 2013 to completion of the new building in July 2015. During this time I took six months maternity leave leaving my colleagues David Paton and Marianne Keating to run the job but was fortunate enough to return to work in March 2015 to get back involved in the team! This was also the stage where our graphics colleagues came on board and delivered the way finding signage and beautiful illustrations on the laboratory floors.
Page\Park, our Client and the wider Design Team and Contractor have been delighted to see the project winning both an RIAS and an RIBA award, this year as it’s come about through true collaboration.
To find out more about The Saunders Centre, visit: http://pagepark.co.uk/projects/the-saunders-centre-science-and-technology-building