Initial concept designs for the redevelopment of Perth City Hall were unveiled today at a public exhibition.
Perth & Kinross Council is working with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) to manage the process of choosing from a shortlist of five major architects to work on the project.
The shortlisted architects Austin-Smith:Lord and MVRDV; Hoskins Architects; LDN; Mecanoo; and Richard Murphy Architects have now each submitted their designs for the exhibition.
Austin-Smith:Lord and MVRDV
Submission: “We love the old building – so let’s keep the best historic features and open up the box to welcome everybody to Perth’s Living Room. Perth City Hall (PCH) is contained by (and contains) a series of urban rooms. PCH and St John’s Kirk sit within a large urban space accessed via historic vennels and streets. Within the main hall is the Art Mixer – a super flexible exhibit space. In combination these interlinked boxes create the City’s Living Room.
“The Panoramic Roof Garden and all level of the building are accessed by a loop route; grand stair and scenic lift which reveal themselves to the street and the city. The loop creates a civic circuit from street to roof-top garden and back; either the culmination of the cultural visit or a destination in its own right.”
Submission: “The project looks beyond the building to create a safe, welcoming, and attractive environment that will encourage locals and visitors to enter Perth City Hall, as well as, reinvigorating the surrounding streets and vennels, while respecting the setting of the category A listed St John’s Kirk.
“A new raised plinth, with ramps and steps provides a welcoming entrance to Perth City Hall with greater visual presence. The New Market Cross memorial will be relocated to open up an appropriately generous and direct approach from St John’s Shopping Centre and King Edward Street.”
Submission: “The composition of the ancient St John’s Kirk, the City Hall and Perth’s historic street pattern, including its vennels, should result in an urban space of world-class but its current state is rather underwhelming and the overall effect is less than the sum of its parts. Vehicular traffic routes will be re-organised to create a servicing zone along the north side of the City Hall and reduce the road between it and the shopping centre.
“A series of new exhibition plinths will be created along the south side of the City Hall to link St John and King Edward Streets and extend the “front door” of the City Hall into the public realm. These plinths will delineate the edge of a raised plinth along the sunny south side of the City Hall which can be used by the street level café operators along South Street. One of the plinths will be on axis with Fleshers Vennel and the concept is that they will be used for changing displays and visual attractors from surrounding streets to the City Hall precinct.
“The levels of the piazza in front of St John’s Kirk will be adjusted to improve the setting of St John and provide level access into the new City Hall Entrance. Surface finishes will extend through the glass entrance screen into the City Hall to extend the public realm visually into the heart of the building.”
Submission: “The project endeavours to create a new gateway to Perth; to its history and its pride. Perth City Hall has been under a ‘dust blanket’ for many years however its grandeur and resonance within the hearts and minds of the community has meant that it has not been forgotten.
“Our scheme proposal aims to re-activate Perth City Hall by a number of ‘light touch’ interventions that open the building up to the public realm at ground level (The Vennel and the café/bar) and provide a flexible platform in which to best display Perth and Kinross Council’s permanent and temporary collections.
“The design is about transparency, permeability, accessibility and creating an interactive environment for all.”
Richard Murphy Architects
Submission: “We are very conscious of the recent controversy regarding the potential demolition of the former Perth City Hall. Many residents have very happy memories of the building and we recognise that it forms a very strong and familiar landmark in the city centre.
“Nonetheless, we think the building needs radical surgery not just internally to transform it from a concert hall to a museum and gallery, but also to make the new function of the museum evident from the outside.
“Currently the building is a mysterious (and slightly forbidding) box. There are no views of what happens on the inside from the outside. We want to change that so as to invite the public across the threshold.
“The most architecturally elaborate parts of the exterior are the western entrance elevation and the four corners of the building. The rear elevation and the central sections of the side elevations are less important. Internally we believe that the two main staircases and the plastered vault to the main hall are the most significant elements.
“The main entrance will remain on King Edward St but our first move is to make a secondary entrance opposite St John’s Kirk and to place the café and shop there.
“Next we would lower the ground floor of the entire building to be at the same level as the surrounding streets to make the whole building accessible to all.
“Our most radical move would be to remove the central part of the north elevation, insert a giant steel beam and rebuild the cornice and parapet but otherwise replace all the stone work with glass wall.”
BAM Construction was appointed by hub East Central Scotland to redevelop the building earlier this month.
The final decision on the design will be made in the summer, with construction expected to begin in 2019.