The Grade 2-listed former court building for Glasgow is situated at the heart of the Merchant City, a conservation area and former merchant trade area of Glasgow. In 2001, after lying derelict for 15 years, Glasgow City Council opened the up the building for development through a design competition, with a strict brief that involved three elements:

  • Restoration of the building to its former splendour;
  • Creation of quality piazza to act as an appropriate setting for the restored building;
  • Introduction of a cultural element as part of the development

Persimmon City developments were successful in their design bid for the building which included new streetscape proposals, a central courtyard, a new home for the Scottish Youth Theatre, and dramatic roof gardens as part of the residential and retail development.

The streetscape works included a change to the Traffic Regulation Order to omit parking and improve pedestrian connectivity in response to Glasgow City Council’s policy on reduced traffic in the Merchant City and the centre of Glasgow. The use of a continuous and level granite floorscape has led to a pedestrian-friendly environment encouraging a street cafe society. Elegant granite benches and bold groups of Mop Maple trees have allowed flexibility in the use of the pavement areas.

The former Sheriff Court is a pivotal building in the connection from George Square in the centre of Glasgow to the Merchant City. The refurbishment of the building included a diagonal punctuation of the façade to encourage pedestrian flow through the building to emphasise this connectivity. The pedestrian route bridges the courtyard space below. The courtyard has been designed to be used as arrival, promenade and performance space by the Scottish Youth Theatre. The cool muted tones of the building façade are reflected in the high quality materials, brown and buff granite cubes, yellow ochre granite slabs and a performance space of marbled green granite. The promenade route from the Scottish Youth Theatre foyer and entrance is a sinuous curve leading to the performance space and set out using granite cubes and defined with stainless steel trims and dramatic uplighters. Polished stainless steel planters punctuate the curvilinear lines on rhythmic grid. The space has been designed to be viewed from above by the residential area and also the retail at ground floor level.

The roof gardens at level 4 and 5 of the building are designed to act as an antithesis of the formal streetscape proposals on the exterior of the building. The spaces are accessible and can be used for relaxing and socialising. Materials are again high quality granite slabs and cubes with crisp white granite trims and edges to the planters.

The project has acted as an enormous catalyst for development in the Merchant City, and the positive effect of the project on the immediate area and Glasgow itself, helping consolidate previous regeneration initiatives in the Merchant City and promoting Glasgow as a high quality and lively city to live in and visit.

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