June 2009

Since returning from holiday at the start of June I have been working on finishing another children’s house, preparing to start a community business centre in Aidrie and putting together 2 tenders for architects services.

The completed children’s house in Motherwell is the third we have completed for North Lanarkshire Council and are the result of over 5 years worth of work. The 4th is due for completion in Cumbernauld within the next month and I intend to write about the whole process once this is complete. The programme of work has been quite unique and there is not much written on this type of building in comparison to other types of residential ‘care’ buildings and interest has been shown by other councils looking to develop their own provision to meet the standards set by the Care Commission.

Activity Space, Chldren's House, Motherwell

Activity Space, Chldren's House, Motherwell

The tender process for putting a design team together is quite an involved process which is ,more often than not, unsuccessful unfortunately. We do win from time to time but the number we need to enter and the time involved in doing so is disproportionate, time consuming and costly. The process is largely architect led which means there is more time involved putting the right team together, gathering and collating all information and presenting this in a professional manner. No matter how often I try to standardise information to make this process quicker, questions are asked in different ways which means tailoring to suit each individual tender questionnaire.

This whole process is hugely flawed, dfficult for smaller practices to be succcessful, and quite often the tender process is only used through the neccesity of the client to meet funding regulations or legislation when they already know who they really want to work with, the result being, a lot of wasted time and effort from practices that can ill afford the cost in the current climate.

I managed to get up to Dundee to see Balgay Hill, a play by Simon Macallum . The play is an interweave of characters influenced by growing up in Dundee and by the life of local legend  Billy Mackenzie, singer in the Associates. A fascinating way to deal with subject like this without just presenting a biography, Mackenzie’s story is told through the experience of the characters including a Dundonian returning home after yeas in America, a younger student putting together a video for a college project and a teenager looking to make a career in the pop industry.

Labyrinth, Maggie's, Dundee

Labyrinth, Maggie's, Dundee

Took time to have a look at the Frank Ghery designed Maggie’c Centre in the grounds of Ninewell’s hospital. My second Ghery building in the space of a month, I much prefer this more modest building to the extravagant EMP in Seattle. The building sits at the edge of a hill overlooking Dundee and has the recent addition of a lanscaped garden by Arrabella Lennox-Boyd. There is some quite literal reference to Scottish architecture with a Broch like tower breaking through the waves of the roof, but the composition seems to work in creating a welcoming but peaceful building which is immaculately detailed.

Maggie's Dundee, by Frank Ghery

Maggie's Dundee, by Frank Ghery

Should have the results of the tenders I submitted during the next month so will hopefully have an upbeat post for July!

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