The Glasshouse is an expression of a utopian ideal of place-transformation grounded in the realism of structure and programme. It consists of a greenhouse, market, kitchen and restaurant growing inside a clear tectonic framework, sitting on the stereotomic ‘bedrock’ of Leith, on the Edge of the city of Edinburgh, and the Firth of Forth. The building complex is a self-contained unit within the area, but one which roots itself in the history of both people and place, and acknowledges change, looking forward informed by new values of environmental awareness and community.
The project grew from thorough research of Leith and its rich industrial history, specifically looking at glass-making and the idea of local source and produce. The combination of physical and theoretical research created a thorough understanding of the topos, and therefore grounding for the ideals of the programmatic elements. For example, exploring the modern development of glass manufacture and glass-like alternatives – such as the ETFE – became culturally as well as physically appropriate. The name ‘The Glasshouse’ refers to the historical resonance of the place, but new materials are used to create the modern version of the functional transparency in structure.
These interstitial moments are important points bringing richness to the project – expressing the relationship between old and new, masonry and metal, solid and void, person and place. The typos – programmatic elements – relies heavily on an understanding of the environment created, and space pairs itself with appropriate existing and new structure. Ideas of sustainability; the project uses remaining built infrastructure, often as it is, to avoid creating new materials when they already exist, and also honour the physical soul of the building. In our normal talk, to be on the edge is ‘to be in a state of keen anticipation,’ which is embodied by this project, in what the architectural future may hold when the edge of existing buildings is fully and creatively considered. A sense of the Edge of Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth, the edge of history, the edge of the future: all meet in the Glasshouse; all seen and enjoyed within its shapes and vistas, its openings and enclosures.
In a precarious position; also, to be in a state of keen anticipation.’ The Oxford English Dictionary 2012 Edit