Conservation Design Project

The Lion Chambers

I have spent the most of my career so far working in the operational side of hospitality, however rather than running bars, I became more and more interested in the design of them. This didn’t necessarily mean 'new' design; original Victorian tiled toilets and vintage urinals have always been a secret pleasure of mine! After being involved in a number of bar re-fits and re-vamps, I decided to apply to study Interior Design at Heriot Watt University and on the evidence of my experience, I was accepted as a direct entry 3rd year student. Amazingly, I gained a First Class Honours, however I realised my designs always tended to be focused on the preservation of particular features within the building. This led to applying to study Msc Architectural Design for the Conservation of Built Heritage at Strathclyde to develop my interests further and explore the possibilities of a career that involved caring for our built heritage. 

The course has now defined how I want to develop my future career. I must admit, I am now a self confessed ‘stone geek’ - pointing out different pathologies of decay on my home city Edinburgh’s many sandstone structures to anyone who will listen. I always thought I was more interested in pre 20th century architecture and construction until undertaking the Conservation Design Project on show here that focuses on one of Scotland’s first fully reinforced concrete buildings - The Lion Chambers in Glasgow. There has to be more attention paid to historic concrete to ensure 20th century construction is not forgotten or poorly conserved. The project highlighted that concrete construction is especially hard to conserve - most historic concrete buildings follow a similar repair model as would more modern concrete construction but this approach rarely appreciates the authenticity of the original historic fabric. The project also highlighted the problems there are with the conservation of listed buildings when the economic viability of potential re-use is the determining factor on whether the project can go ahead. Finding ways in which buildings of significance such as The Lion Chambers can be saved is something I am very passionate about and this course has given me the valuable knowledge and theory that I can apply to my new career and hopefully solve many conservation dilemmas that will continue to be an issue as our built heritage stock grows older.