‘The better days’ called on politicians to recapture post-war optimism and put quality architecture and the built environment back at the heart of Scottish life.
The project was inspired by The Saltire Society’s 1944 publication 'Building Scotland' by Alan Reiach and Robert Hurd. The powerful and poetic Foreword to the publication, written by the then Secretary of State for Scotland Thomas Johnston, formed the main driver for the project.
'And in this beautiful land of ours, the free people who inhabit it, and who have paid such a high price for their freedom, will, in the better days that are to be, surely insist that the architecture of their buildings, public and private, shall be worthy of them’
Rt. Hon. Thomas Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland 1944.
Jude Barber worked with a group of female collaborators to create 129 individually hand-made, ceramic pieces containing words and architectural forms derived from the ‘Building Scotland’ publication. The ceramics were exhibited along with the letters in the Merchant City’s Briggait Project Space then gifted to each of Scotland’s newly elected MSPs.
The elected representatives at Holyrood were invited, via the gift and an associated letter, to consider the important role that architecture and design plays within our everyday lives.
The project was generously supported by The Saltire Society and selected for exhibition at The Briggait, Glasgow via WASPS summer programme.
The Briggait Gallery Spaces, Glasgow
Example letter sent to all 129 MSPs
Ceramics gifted to MSPs
Block drawings from 'Building Scotland'
Mapping using mixed media (ceramic paint, acetate and card) during 2015 Craft Residency at Cove Park.
My personal thoughts opinions regarding architecture and the built environment are motivated by an interest in politics, art and social history. I recently explored ideas in relation to place, craft and production and articulated my thoughts using a variety of hand drawings, maps and ceramic painting.
The processing of raw materials brought to Scotland from the Caribbean in the 18th Century led to an explosion in industry, including textiles, steel-working, ship-building, car manufacturing and sugar refinery. This époque significantly defined the fabric of Scotland’s towns and cities with foundries and mills producing world-renowned ironwork, stonework, and textiles.
At present, the architect is pushed towards mass production, ‘of the shelf products’ and process-driven building procurement. There is little space to integrate - or instigate - local production, materials or bespoke design in their development.
I developed my exploration into Scotland’s post-colonial/industrial past and what this might mean for contemporary architecture through maps/drawings that considered themes of production and place.
The Empire Cafe with Louise Welsh
The Empire Café was an exploration of Scotland’s relationship with the North Atlantic slave trade through coffee, sugar, tea, cotton, music, visual art, academic lectures, poetry, debate, workshops, historical walks, film and literature. The project was a temporary work via Collective Architecture forming part of the 2014 Culture Programme funded by Creative Scotland.
The Empire Cafe was initially conceived by Jude and Louise as a one-off event via Collective Architecture. Since 2014 all on-going projects are run via The Empire Cafe Trust.
The 2014 event, and associated working café, was based in the main hall and formerly redundant shop unit at the Briggait (home of the Merchant’s Steeple) in Glasgow’s Merchant City from 24th July - 1st August 2014.
The Empire Café served dishes developed through a series of outreach sessions delving into the history of trade between Scotland and the Empire. The changing daily menu prepared by community cooks from across Glasgow (with 25 people becoming fully trained in Food Hygiene), featured organic Scottish produce and fairly traded ingredients from other parts of the World.
The event attracted 4000 visitors over the course of the week and is just completing a series of eight events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. A new poetry anthology commissioned 18 new works by Scottish and Caribbean poets with poets presenting at the Café from Jamaica and Ghana (funded by The British Council). Their work featured on bespoke bone china (sourced as ‘seconds’ from Wedgewood) and laser cut tables (fabricated by MAKlab). A new laser cut plywood ceiling in the café space was derived from abstracted images of sugar cane.
During the event Glasgow City Council formally committed to mounting a permanent exhibit/memorial of some kind to Scotland's involvement in the Slave Trade. This also raised challenging political discussions regarding reparations and land ownership in Scotland involving Andy Wightman of 'Who owns Scotland' and ‘The Poor had No Lawyers’
In addition to the programme of events the visual artist Graham Fagen (representing Scotland in Venice 2015) produced a new film piece mixing a Burns poem with a Bob Marley song called 'War c/w I Murder Hate', Stanley Odd the Hip Hop Band wrote and performed a new song called 'Princes on the Pavement'.
The café space – which lay empty for many years - was fully equipped with water and power and opened as a training space for Dear Green Coffee early 2015.
Merchant City Voices with Louise Welsh
Merchant City Voices is a series of sound installations formed in collaboration between author Louise Welsh and architect Jude Barber of Collective Architecture in association with Northern Light. The project, commissioned by Glasgow City Council, explores Glasgow’s involvement in the tobacco and sugar industries, and contemporary responses to the system of forced labour that it depended on - the transatlantic slave trade.
Glasgow’s location on the Clyde has shaped its development and led to its global significance as the Second City of the Empire. The project arose from a growing unease regarding the celebration of Glasgow’s Merchants’ fine buildings, without a wider appreciation of how these particular buildings were funded and produced. Seven sound installations have been formed within lanes, secondary streets and bridges along a notional journey connecting key buildings between George Square (Merchants’ House) and the Clydeside.
Key site locations were identified based on their association with the Slave Trade and Abolitionist movement. Each of the buildings and sites where the soundscapes are located were built with wealth generated by forced labour or associated with abolitionism. These include the Gallery of Modern Art (formerly the Cunningham Mansion), Tobacco Merchant’s House, former Virginia Galleries, City Halls, the Tron steeple, the Panopticon Theatre and the Clyde itself on the Calton Terrace footbridge overlooking Jamaica Street.
Louise Welsh wrote the seven pieces after much research. These draw on writings by Frederick Douglass - a freed slave - and also imagine the viewpoints of the city merchants, slaves and abolitionists. Examples include a role call of slaves owned by one Glasgow family, a conversation between female abolitionists and the chanting of Frederick Douglass’s call for the Free Church of Scotland to ‘Send back the Money’ gifted by slave owners.
All building owners and neighbours were contacted to discuss and obtain permission and power to each of the sites. A series of sound tests were carried out with sound and lighting company Northern Light to establish the optimum sound opportunities within particular sites and to ensure neighbours would not be irritated. The necessary permissions sought from Environmental Health, Planning and Heritage and Design. Professional actors, and students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland recorded the sound pieces during a series of intense and rewarding sessions. Sound and light company Northern Light expertly carried out the project’s technical design and installation.
Merchant City Voices provides a shared public experience within the streets of Glasgow’s Merchant City. It offers the opportunity for Glasgow and its citizens to be honest about the city’s involvement in the Slave Trade and to applaud and recognise those who campaigned for the abolition of slavery. The sound pieces and the physical environment work together to lead, follow or stop pedestrians as they pass through particular sites to create an urban soundscape that raises questions and adds to the city’s collective consciousness
Voices of Experience
Voices of Experience is an investigation into significant women who have made important contributions to architecture, design and the built environment in Scotland, particularly the later part of the twentieth century. The project aims to put women elders in the profession into the spotlight, as well as contemporary women.
Voices of experience was initiated by Jude Barber of Collective Architecture and Suzanne Ewing of EASLA - as part of the 2016 Architecture Fringe Programme - to consider how ideas of architectural role models might be re-calibrated through listening to experienced architects and others who have not been written into mainstream history and the public consciousness. Voices of Experience aims to dispel long held myths within the profession and encourage young practitioners, designers and makers within our built environment to access the experience and insight of previous generations. The project is ongoing and collaborative and is developing in partnership with Glasgow Women’s Library, Architecture Fringe 2017, Collective Architecture, ESALA and Panel.
In 2016, the first Voices of Experience event took place at the Glasgow Women’s Library as part of their Autumn Programme of Events. In advance of the event, four ‘pairs’ of experienced and recently qualified architects walked and talked within sites where they had previously lived and worked. Sites included Cumbernauld New Town, Linlithgow Burgh Halls, Port of Leith and North Glasgow. The architects who took part were Margaret Richards, Anne Duff, Dorothy Bell, Fiona Sinclair and Mairi Laverty, Nicola McLachlan, Emma Fairhurst and Cathy Houston of Collective Architecture. At the event, the architects and audience were invited to listen and discuss the issues raised within a series of short, pre-recorded conversations between the architects during their site visits over afternoon tea.
In 2017, the Voices of Experience Team aim to further develop their investigations to Planning, Engineering and Design. The project will initiate a call for text, material and information to be included within the archive and collection at the Glasgow Women’s Library
Sugar Cane Ceiling
Temporary ceiling installed as part of The Empire Cafe. Based on the premise of typical 600 x 600mm 'off the shelf' ceiling grids/tiles but with bespoke CNC pattern. Pattern was derived from image of sugar cane as viewed under the microscope in reference to Glasgow's links to trans-atlantic trading with the sugar plantations in the Caribbean.
GLAS was a design cooperative of architects, teachers and writers who worked together for a period of 5 years to explore and criticise the production of our built environment.
GLAS was organised around the political principles of temporary existence and collective self-management and ownership of assets and ideas.
GLAS disseminated its ideas through publications, political actions, public lectures, design competitions and workshops. Its publication GLASpaper was distributed freely. It documented the work of GLAS and gave a voice to community groups struggling to preserve local services and transform their environment.
glaspaper – critical writings on architecture and space ISSN 1476-3206
Quarterly Journal published by G.L.A.S.
issue 01, September 2001, Urban Cabaret
issue 02, Winter 2001/2002, Transport & Movement
issue 03, Spring 2002, Production
issue 04, Summer 2002, Learning & Education
issue 05/06, Spring 2003, A -Z to War
issue 07, Autumn 2003, Unser Berlin - Our Berlin
issue 08, Summer 2004, Spaces of Labour
issue 09, Spring 2005, From the Edge
issue 10, April 2007, GLASmanual
Come into the Clinics GLASpaper02
Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space (GLAS) was an award winning cooperative venture that produced exhibitions, educational programmes, pamphlets, newspapers and exhibitions .
GLAS was established to re-imagine alternative ways of producing buildings and cities. Social and economic injustice manifests itself spacially –urban poverty, intrusive use of surveillance and the relentless privatisation of the built environment. Architects typically accept and work around these spatial inequalities – GLAS proposed an alternative to this way of working.
G.L.A.S grew out of a design studio run by Dr. Jonathan Charley at the architecture department at the University of Strathclyde between 2001-2006.
In 2004, GLAS won the inaugural Scottish National Achievement Award for Architecture.
Cove Park Residency 2015
Selected for Supported Craft Residency in Cove Park 2015. http://covepark.org
My time at Cove Park provided mental and physical space to focus on key areas of my practice.
I was able to further develop my exploration into Scotland’s post-colonial/industrial past and what this might mean for architecture and production in the 21st century. I made positive progress within this far-reaching line of investigation during my residency and continued my explorations through reading, drawing and painting.
Board game developed for Masters thesis at the Architecture Department of the University of Strathclyde.
Bug and bird totem pole
This modest educational project forms part of a wider Glasgow City Council ‘Stalled Spaces’ Initiative for a little gap site within the inner city, tenemental area of Pollokshields, Glasgow. Ongoing landscape improvements are being carried out incrementally by the local community, as and when funds become available.
A tower for wildlife habitat heralds the beginning of landscape improvements by the local community. This takes the form of a ‘totem pole’ to host slugs, snails and beetles at ground level, butterflies and spiders above, with various small nesting birds in bird boxes between 2m-4m. The timber boxes were laser etched, then charred to provide protection and a monolithic aesthetic quality. The totem pole design was developed by architect and digital fabrication company in association the Eco Groups at two local primary schools and takes particular nesting/habitat requirements into consideration. The total budget of £2,200 was funded by Glasgow City Council Stalled Spaces Programme, Central Scotland Green Network Community Projects Fund and Area Committee Funding.