In 2008 Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd received a further commission from Connexity (Glasgow) Ltd to complete a Contextual Assessment Study for a landmark development (also by IRAL) at the southern end of the Merchant City in Glasgow.
The aim is to connect the area to the east, south and north by improving the surrounding urban areas and creating a new place at the southern edge of the Merchant City. This includes outline design proposals for a public art gallery, housing, bijou offices, retail and conference centre, hotel with its entrance from a new plaza, a linear park and an urban plinth showcasing public art. The development is envisaged to be mixed use, forming a natural continuation of the rich urban fabric that surrounds it, in keeping with the aims and values from the Merchant City Five Year Action Plan.
The study area is made up of five parts: St Enoch East, King’s Court, Paddy’s Market West, Paddy’s Market East, Linear Park and the Urban Plinth and the Clyde. All these parts suffer from low footfall and the area is identified as an opportunity for an iconic development strategically positioned to connect four different parts of Glasgow: the City, Merchant City, Glasgow East and the South Side.
The concept for St Enoch East seeks to activate the entire city block lying vacant as a consequence of the demolition of the St Enoch train station and the associated rail tracks in 1975. The resultant urban block is of substantial size with no traffic through routes, forming an ideal location for a generous new square surrounded by new mixed use development. The square would provide a new public space for the Merchant City and connect the City Centre with Glasgow Green. It will front onto Bridgegate and will face the new, smaller square at Paddy’s Market leading to the new linear park, contextualising the east façade of the Briggait. A grand public stair will lead to the new linear park and the urban plinth over the Clyde. The linear park will cross the bridge and connect to the south bank of the Clyde and the Citizens’ Theatre. This new park should enable local citizens to fully enjoy the new development and engage with its facilities.
King’s Court can be developed as a car park serving the new facilities at St Enoch East instead of the currently unsuccessful public space adjacent to the rail tracks.
Paddy’s Market has a vibrant history and is one of Glasgow’s long standing institutions. There is an appetite for contemporary outdoor markets and Paddy’s Market can easily be modernised into a new arts and crafts market. Two new public squares with associated facilities are suggested at both the north and south ends of the Shipbank Lane will encourage connections through to Glasgow Green. To the northeast a new bijou office block is proposed overlooking one of the new greens framing a natural progression from Paddy’s Market towards Glasgow Green. Consequently, the Magistrates’ Court is placed into a new public space context.