Landmarks: Glasgow

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The Independent Culture
To compare a new pounds 15 m factory to the headquarters of the BBC is to go to completely opposite ends of the scale. But the Barr and Stroud factory in Glasgow, which won my firm a RIBA regional award this year, and the new White City headquarters for the BBC provide examples both of how things could be done and how they should not be done.

Norman Foster's superb design for the new TV centre was unfortunately rejected in favour of an entirely different approach which was partly to do with cost-cutting. Contractual arrangements introduced every conceivable impediment between the designers and the people who would actually use the building. The result is that instead of having something which reflects the BBC's national status, it just looks like any other corporate headquarters.

We tackled the Barr and Stroud building by understanding the client's true requirements. It's an opto-electronics factory in the inner ring of Glasgow on the River Clyde, a former shipbuilding area. The premises date back to the turn of the century. The outward expression was of a very tiered system of management. There were seven levels for dining which ran completely against the single status organisation the company wanted. The need for low costs suited our design idea, which was to put everything in a single unifying envelope. All the levels have now gone, so that management are included in the factory space. The different functions are accessed by a single internal street and the height allows for lots of natural light. It's an evocation of a classless society and something to be proud of.

Ted Nicklin is a director of Ryder Nicklin Partnership Ltd, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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