Glasgow School of Art students share vision for New Lanark’s future

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New Lanark will take centre stage in the Glasgow School of Art degree show this month.

For a unique project by Stage 2 architecture students will be in the spotlight at the annual showcase.

Earlier this year, the students presented their visions of the World Heritage Site’s future to the Trustees, who were greatly impressed.

Now, those visions will be given a far wider audience at the degree show at the Bourdon Building in Garnethill from June 1 to 9.

The exhibition will also include work by students on stages 3, 4 and 5 of the architecture programme.

Jane Masters, a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture at The Glasgow School of Art, is now New Lanark Trust’s heritage manager.

She supported the Studio from the outset and attended the final reviews.

Jane said: “The trust was delighted to work in partnership with the Stage 2 students on their ‘live / work’ project.

“As the trust enters the delivery phase of its new World Heritage Site Management Plan, 2019-2023, it is wonderful for us to see the potential, both real and speculative, which others see in the site.

“The trust has always aimed to run New Lanark as a living and working village, and not merely as a museum dedicated to the past.

“So a project like this, which takes the historic ethos of the site, and applies it to 21st century issues, is food for thought for the future of the village.”

The students were asked to reflect on Robert Owen’s legacy within contemporary social and economic conditions and to speculate about new forms of living and working in the World Heritage Site.

Their innovative responses ranged widely in terms of activities proposed and architectural resolution.

One student proposed living and working spaces should be merged to offer accommodation for art and craft activities.

Another suggested supporting gardening as a convivial activity for an inclusive intergenerational community in projects located on the path to the Falls of Clyde. Bringing together orphan refugees and their carers in a vertical garden village was a further proposition.

Projects also explored the potential of bringing together specialist manufacturing activities into new forms of live/work and leisure pursuits to enjoy New Lanark and the Clyde scenic landscape, or to harness local clay natural resources for the craft production of bricks.

Sally Stewart, head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture, said: “The New Lanark Studio was an excellent project to stretch our Stage 2 students.

“They were encouraged to develop innovative propositions but had to make sure this was within both the philosophical and historical context.

“New Lanark was used by Robert Owen as a ground-breaking experiment in social, moral, educational and workplace reform.

“Today it is one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites.

“Our students were asked to take all that into account.”

Some of the work from the New Lanark Studio will also be on show as part of a major exhibition at New Lanark in the autumn.

As previously reported, Historic Environment Scotland will bring its touring photography exhibition, Industry and Aesthetics, to the visitor attraction from September 14 to October 27.

It aims to explore people’s emotional responses to pictures of abandoned industrial spaces.

However, the team at New Lanark also saw a chance to shine a spotlight on the village’s changing fortunes.

So the HES display will form part of a larger exhibition, Snapshots of a Lost World: the Decline of Scottish Industry.

Historic images from the New Lanark archive will show the abandoned industrial landscape from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Contemporary pictures submitted by visitors as part of a summer photography competition will then be used to show the opportunities these abandoned spaces present.

And the students’ visions for New Lanark’s future will also be showcased.

Helen Martin, the collections and exhibitions officer, said: “As well as a journey through New Lanark’s past and present, visitors will also get a glimpse into its potential future thanks to the Glasgow School of Art project.”

Entry to the Snapshots exhibition will be free.

But if you can’t wait until then, entry to the degree show this month is also free.

For more details visit the website www.gsa.ac.uk/life/gsa-events/events/d/degree-show-2019.