Until quite recently, new build hotels in Glasgow, had a production line, pattern book quality, where brass was class. Opportunities for "inexperienced" architects to design a hotel were also very rare, as the market was considered "specialist" and consequently restricted to a few chosen practices, who supposedly understood the demands of large hotel operators. A new international hotel in the city often followed a well tried design formula and consequently, would look as instantly recognisable as one in Birmingham, Berlin or Boston. Little was given to city context or, any emphasis placed on a
challenging design response consideration.
In 1996 however, The Glasgow Development Agency highlighted a shortfall of "top end of the market" hotel accommodation in the city, which still exists to cater for the booming city visitor and business markets and have encouraged developers to invest in new hotel projects, to meet this increasing demand.
In Glasgow and also in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, this rise in demand for hotel accommodation brought new opportunities for entrepreneurs, some who had never built a hotel but were willing to take a risk. Bringing work to some of the country's most talented architects. It has also resulted in a range of some of the most interesting and idiosyncratic new buildings currently being constructed in Scotland.
Bewleys Hotel: Glasgow
The conversion and extension of the former headquarters of Tennent Caledonian Brewery at 110 Bath Street, Glasgow, is the first UK hotel project for Irish developers Spanli, owners of the Bewleys franchise..
Although little known in Scotland, the Bewleys Hotel name is instantly recognised in Eire and particularly in Dublin, for providing comfortable budget accommodation to week day business users, young families with children and visiting tourists. Their business philosophy is " four star accommodation at three star prices" Rooms sizes are generous and the decor chosen to give a "home from home" feel.
Our brief was to provide Bewleys in Glasgow with an immediately recognisable "icon" building which would launch the Bewleys name in the UK and to provide 104 bedrooms, reception and space for a ground floor bar and restaurant. Bewleys themselves fitted out the bedrooms.
We have, fulfilled that brief and 110 Bath Street is immediately recognisable. Visible from key locations in the city, the building is provocative and intended to be so. Reactions to our design have been both very supportive and, at times detrimental.
Ranging from "big bold and beautiful" to "meretricious".
The controversy has had a positive effect though, with the hotel achieving almost 100% occupancy since opening in June 2000, to the delight of our clients.
We are now looking at designing Bewleys hotels in Nottingham and Manchester.
Radisson SAS: Glasgow
This new five star 250 bedroom hotel for London based developer MWB is currently being built in Argyle Street, Glasgow at a cost of £30m.
It will be operated by Radisson SAS and will be their first new-build project in Scotland.
A curved copper wall continues the street line of Argyle Street, one of Glasgow's oldest thoroughfares, and provides a dramatic frontage to the hotel. Copper is one of the Glasgow "native" and historic building materials, used here as a foil to the six floors of hotel accommodation. A naturally lit internal "street containing the reception, function suite, cafe and bar spaces runs between the copper wall and hotel accommodation. A special suite of twelve rooms cantilever over the street and extend through the copper wall to Argyle Street.
Previously neglected frontages on Robertson Street and Oswald Street are brought back to life with fine dini ng restaurants, bars and leisure uses.
Hotel bedrooms look out onto adjoining streets or into a private courtyard garden.
The project will be completed and occupied by Aug 2002.