Wasps Creative Industries C.I.C has completed a £2.1m transformation of South Block Studios located on the corner of King Street and Osborne Street in the heart of Glasgow’s Merchant City. Main contractors for the project were CBC Construction and the architect was Nord.
The 1902 Edwardian building is owned by Glasgow City Council and was previously used for three years as a temporary decant space for a number of arts organisations who have now relocated to Trongate 103. Before this, the building was only partially occupied.
Wasps previously occupied 1½ floors of the building and through this project has expanded and refurbished the existing building over a further 2½ floors – a total of 53,000 sq ft of floor space. Two floors will now be used for creative industry companies, in such fields as design and digital media. In total, there will be accommodation for 200 people in 96 studios. The two creative industries floors will be let on a commercial basis and any surplus funds earned will be gifted back to support charitable arts activity. Wasps Artists’ Studios – a charity that will be 35 years old next April – formed Wasps Creative Industries C.I.C. as a new trading subsidiary to carry out this development.
An important idea behind the project was to create ad hoc social spaces throughout the building in order to encourage interaction and joint working amongst the artists and designers who form the building’s community.
Nord Architects have worked with Wasps Creative Industries C.I.C to give each floor a distinctive presence. The first floor features bespoke design window seating with spaces for books to create informal libraries, whilst the second floor has small garden spaces to allow plants to grow internally, along with tiled areas for people to gather and sit. The third floor is styled with ambience of an art gallery, whilst the fourth floor also has a distinctive feel achieved by a simple black and white colour palette and extensive natural lighting through clerestory glazing. In addition, the refurbishment of the ground floor foyer has given the building a strong street presence.
Internal work comprised mainly the creation of new partitions and the rearrangement of internal accommodation. The building also previously lacked heating and adequate insulation, which has now been amended by repairs to the exterior walls. All the windows have also been repaired and re-seated.
External works has comprised creating an external roof terrace for the courtyard and the refurbishment of 454 timber sash windows, which was a significant element of the conservation of the building, together with re-roofing a large flat roof element with a new membrane roof deck.
The project utilised mainly traditional materials, including timber stud partitions, whilst the brick work and timber has been exposed, revealing the original cast iron structure of the building.
For more information on South Block Studios, visit www.southblock.co.uk