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The Burrell Collection, Glasgow

Words:
RIAS Jury

The insertion of a central atrium in the Category-A listed Burrell Collection by John McAslan + Partners transformed the building, helped improve its environmental performance and won it a 2024 RIAS Award

The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow

2024 RIAS Regional Award

The Burrell Collection, Glasgow
John McAslan + Partners for Glasgow Life 
Contract value: £34.1m (main contract) 
GIA: 15000 m
Cost per m2: £2,273 (main contract)

The Burrell Collection is a Category-A listed building of international significance housing over 9,000 works of art. Located in Glasgow’s Pollok Park, the building first opened in 1983 to critical acclaim. Drawing its inspiration from Scandinavian architecture, the original design demonstrated a strong and deliberate approach to materiality, to the museum promenade and to its parkland context.

Faced with dwindling visitor numbers, client Glasgow Life commissioned architect John McAslan + Partners to refurbish the heritage building in order to attract a larger and more diverse group of visitors. The brief included re-ordering the interiors, undertaking necessary and substantial repairs and improving its environmental performance.

  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
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The most significant architectural alteration was to open up the centre of the building, and this has been done to great effect. The original building promoted a linear promenade route around the perimeter of the plan and located the darker spaces at the centre, including a purpose-built lecture theatre. As this resource was no longer required, John McAslan + Partners replaced it with a void to create a three-storey atrium at the heart of the building. This strategic change unlocks additional floors for public use and draws the building together in a more open way by allowing visitors to directly cross the building. This new space is considered, delightful and dynamic, and offers visitors a new area in which to orientate themselves.

The detailing of the refurbishment has been accomplished to a high level. Careful consideration has been given to every aspect of the design in order to work with the existing building’s language and material palette. The treatment of the external fabric, for example, respects the aesthetic considerations of the original design while cleverly improving the performance of the thermal envelope, reducing solar glare and enabling the carefully controlled gallery conditions inside to be achieved in a more sustainable way.

  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Hufton + Crow
  • The Burrell Collection. Credit: Dylan Nardini
    The Burrell Collection. Credit: Dylan Nardini
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The vision of the client has been remarkable and exemplary. Throughout the process, and in conjunction with the design team, Glasgow Life engaged with the local community to ensure that the project remained closely connected to the hearts of Glaswegians while also attracting new visitors from further afield.

In summary, the refurbishment is a considerate and bold reimagining of the Burrell Collection. By successfully synthesising careful repair and an exemplary retrofit, it has enabled wider access to this seminal late-20th century building, allowing visitors to engage with more of the Burrell’s important collections for generations to come.

See the rest of the RIAS winners hereAnd all the RIBA Regional Awards here

Credits

Contractor Kier Scotland
Structural engineer Narro
Environmental/M&E engineer Atelier Ten
Quantity surveyor/cost consultant/project management Gardiner & Theobald
Landscape architect/conservation John McAslan + Partners
Façade consultant Arup Facades 
Access consultant David Bonnett Associates
Fire engineering/sustainability consultant Atelier 10 
Principal designer Gardiner and Theobald 
Exhibition design Event Communications 
IT/AV and digital content Glasgow Life

Credit: John McAslan + Partners
Credit: John McAslan + Partners
Credit: John McAslan + Partners
Credit: John McAslan + Partners
Credit: John McAslan + Partners
Credit: John McAslan + Partners

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