Listed Building

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Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NS 55553 62154
255553, 662154


Barry Gasson Architects, 1971-1983 (architects, Barry Gasson, Brit Andresen and John Meunier; project architect, Jack Wilson; structural engineer, Felix J Samuely; landscape consultant, Margaret Maxwell; contractor, Taylor Woodrow Construction.) Outstanding building in parkland setting at edge of woodland of Pollok Park, designed specifically to accommodate Sir William Burrell's vast internationally recognised collection of art and antiquities, including medieval and Renaissance period architectural fragments and rooms reconstructed from Hutton Castle (see Notes).

DESCRIPTION: 4-storey museum building including basement, ground floor, mezzanine and 2nd floor studios. Triangular-plan, pink sandstone and extensively glazed main section intersected to SW by rectangular-plan gable-ended pink sandstone entrance block and projecting square-plan glazed section to SE incorporating museum café. Building also includes lecture theatre, visiting scholars' flat, crèche, library, conservation studios, plant, receiving area and stores to basement.

Brick cavity wall construction clad with coursed smooth pink Locharbriggs sandstone; glazed curtain walling; stainless steel sheeting fixed to vertical timber boarding. Framing of reinforced concrete columns and beams combined with laminated timber columns and beams, galvanised mild-steel connectors; reinforced concrete floor slabs; reinforced concrete internal load bearing walls.

S (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: advanced blank gabled entrance block to far left incorporating carved sandstone shallow pointed 14th century arch and massive boarded oak and iron studded door; small rectangular windows to right return at 1st floor; cantilevered glazed walkway to left return (providing access to flat above). Long glazed range to right stepping down into terraced parkland, pink sandstone basement level with irregularly spaced rectangular openings. Projecting glazed café section to far right corner.

E (PARKLAND) ELEVATION: projecting glazed café section to far left corner. Long blank sandstone range to right, glazed and stainless steel sheeting at upper level.

N (WOODLAND) ELEVATION: extensive curtain wall; 3 pitched roofs breaking wallhead, terminating long skylights set on N-S axis ranging length of museum roof.

W ELEVATION: sunken curved goods entrance at basement level with underground parking area.

Double glazed aluminium casement and fixed windows; flat roofed in sections with plywood or tongued and grooved boarding covered with three-layered felt, stainless steel; sloping glazed roofs.

INTERIOR: original materials and plan largely unaltered, predominantly exposed coursed pink sandstone walls, polished and unpolished stone and concrete floors, laminated timber beams. Double-height entrance with glazed roof over reception and shop leading to glazed courtyard space with, red sandstone and limestone floor, 2 open stairs leading to mezzanine, all supported by circular concrete columns surrounded by reconstructed Hutton Castle rooms to N, E and S, off courtyard modern bi-partite openings to castle rooms. Hutton Castle rooms: re-sited fireplaces, linenfold panelling and stained glass panels from original castle (see Notes). 3-stage heraldic stone doorway (ex Hornby Castle) separating courtyard and link to N gallery range. Raked lecture theatre in centre of plan, and open plan double-height café to SE of plan at ground floor, accessed by substantial stone stair. Mostly double-height circulation space proceeding from courtyard around inner galleries set on N-S axis giving through-views to woodland beyond extensive N-facing glazed curtain wall. Extensive use of blonde timber boarded or framed glazed ceilings defined by laminated timber rafters. Bespoke glass object cases cantilevered and set within walls (others cases freestanding); architect-designed chairs and tables within gallery spaces. Mezzanine and 1st floor incorporating library, offices, former crèche, flat and purpose-built conservation studios with integrated services; boarded timber and glazed partition walls and ceilings throughout.

Statement of Special Interest

An outstanding bespoke museum commission of international importance, and an important example of Structuralist tendency in architecture in the second half of the 20th century, emphasising the user's experience and of a sense of place, and in particular, making the most of the interior and exterior interface with the surrounding landscape. The Burrell is a rare and significant post-war commission for a museum building in Scotland, devised as a megastructure, and is an influential example of a large public architectural commission in the UK. Important projects for galleries and museums have only appeared more recently in the 1990s with the conversion of existing buildings and extensions to existing institutions such Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art, or the National Museum of Scotland as prime examples.

The building is representative of later Modern architectural theory interested in personal responses to space, invoking a return to a human vernacular architecture rather than placing an emphasis on the façade. The Burrell Collection building could be described as an organic strand of traditionalism, taking cues from the 20th century Nordic tradition in architecture, however incorporating fragmented formalist elements.

Gasson's Burrell Collection is a furthering of the 1958 concept for the Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art near Copenhagen by Jørgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert, which used a sequence of long narrow galleries ensuring that the exterior wooded setting remained intervisible with the museum objects, preserving a sense of immediacy between inside and outside. Aldo van Eyck's, Sonsbeek Sculpture Pavilion at Arnhem, 1966 (reconstructed at Kröller-Müller Museum 2006) espoused his renowned 'labyrinth clarity' by creating a sequence of events and encounters, with relatively little attention paid to the façade and this may have also influenced Barry Gasson Architects' concept of an unarticulated exterior for the Burrell, which demonstrates zones of glazing emerging from the heavier sandstone elevations, but here also includes references to early Christian architecture through the mock chapel entrance block. A 'muted historicism' is invoked with an overall result of 'self-effacing informality' (Calder).

The building provides an inspiring setting for Glasgow shipping magnate, Sir William Burrell's, vast collection of art and antiquities bequeathed to the City of Glasgow in 1944 under strict instruction that the collection be kept intact and housed at least 16 miles from the centre of Glasgow to ensure that the objects would not be contaminated by the city's industrial pollution. When Pollok House and its policies became available in the late 1960s, Burrell's trustees agreed to change the condition of the bequest and allow the collection to be located 3 miles from the centre of Glasgow in a generous parkland setting. The competition for the new museum building was launched in 1970 and Barry Gasson's practice was appointed in 1972. Gasson, Andresen and Meunier's design was distinguished from the other 241 entries by its positioning within Pollok Park nestled into the woodland at the edge of the open parkland, deliberately integrating the exterior with interior along the glazed north-facing wall. Construction began in 1978 and the building was opened officially by Queen Elizabeth in 1983. The project cost was £16,500,000.

Sir William Burrell (1861-1958) lived at 8 Great Western Terrace Glasgow and at Hutton Castle, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, Scottish Borders, from circa 1927 (purchased in 1916) until his death in 1958. The reconstructed Hutton Castle rooms include items from the hall, dining room and drawing room. Burrell's vast collection consisted of over 8,000 items and focused on late Gothic and early Renaissance Europe. The collection also contains outstanding examples of Chinese art, French and Dutch paintings, Islamic art and objects from ancient civilizations. Some of the architectural fragments included in the building came from 16th century Hornby Castle, Yorkshire.

Gordon Barry Gasson OBE, ARIBA, an English architect, studied at Birmingham University, Columbia University in New York and completed his MA at Cambridge University where he later taught. By 1970 he had formed a partnership with John Charles Christopher Meunier as Barry Gasson & John Meunier. The practice is credited with few commissions (Museum of Agriculture, Baghdad, 1975) concentrating almost exclusively on the Burrell Collection. In 1987 Gasson was practising under his own name with an office in Glasgow.

Brit Andresen RAIA (Australia) studied architecture at Trondheim University Norway qualifying as Sivil Arkitekt in 1969. She became a Registered Architect in Queensland, Australia and has taught architecture at the University of Cambridge, the Architectural Association and the School of Architecture and Urban Planning UCLA (Master of Architecture Program).

John Meunier ARIBA, AIA (US) studied at Liverpool, Harvard and Cambridge, and later taught at Cambridge from 1962 to 1976. Meunier moved to the United States in 1976 teaching successively at the University of Cincinnati and Arizona State University, also publishing widely on architectural education.



Dictionary of National Biography 1951-1960, pp161-3. The Burrell Collection, Information (1-3) (competition brief), 1971. Dean of Guild drawings, dated 5 November 1975, Glasgow Archives (1975/C/59). P Willis, New Architecture in Scotland (1977) pp15-16. 'Barry's Burrell Gallery', in Architects' Journal (19 October 1983). D Pearce, 'To Honour a Fine Building: Report of the RIBA critique and discussion of the Burrell Collection February 26th', RIBA Journal, Vol 92, no 4, (April 1985) p11 [B Gasson quoted]. E Williamson, A Riches and M Higgs, Glasgow: The Buildings of Scotland (1990), p616. B Calder 'Castles, Cows and Glasshouses: The Burrell Collection architectural competition' in Twentieth Century Architecture Vol 10, (2012) pp37-49. Dictionary of Scottish Architecture (accessed 2012). Additional information courtesy of Glasgow Life staff (2012).

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Printed: 19/04/2019 21:36