Situated on Main Street, Neilston, ‘The Bank’ has operated as a community centre for just over a year. Formerly owned by the Clydesdale bank, the blonde sandstone building currently facilitates a community cafe, small business offices and a variety of flexible spaces for clubs, classes and events.
The subject of our appointment by the Neilston Development Trust is to upgrade the building, integrating accessibility to the upper office level and reorganizing and extending the ground floor to offer flexible spaces and form a relationship to the garden and street outside. Through doing so we intend to reinstate original features, provide better toilet and kitchen facilities and improve the environmental performance of the building.
In response to the original building and adjacent cottages, we have designed a modest side extension that reflects the form and scale of the cottages, providing much improved access to the upper offices. A single storey glass box provides the entrance and adopts the level of the existing stringcourse of the building. Currently the upper floor is accessed ‘through the back’ of the cafe with no lift provision.
A single storey ‘lean-to’ extension to the rear together with a new ‘bay window’ to the front street provides connection to the outside. At the front a new bay window, open and welcoming, is appropriate to the now established community use. The proposed rear ‘lean-to’ extension unifies the current fragmented elevation with one simple line. The once ‘left-over’ back parking area will be seen as a garden accessible from the café, however can double as parking when required. Screens of high quality timber windows from floor to ceiling provide maximum transparency and offer a welcome open front to the bank encouraging the community to visit. The structures of the new foyer, bay window and curved rear extension are created using delicate crafted galvanized steel frames.
The front elevation of the building is disconnected from the street at present with haphazard planting, patched tarmac, walls and a concrete ramp. The proposal seeks to remove layers of barriers and resolve the forecourt area with a simple stonewall that forms an edge to a new ramp, steps and planter which retains one of the existing small trees. The new position of this wall, reconfigured to be parallel to the building, will provide a more generous access off of the pavement, yet appear to be more open at the building front entrance. This can happen due to the level change happening sooner in the entrance sequence.
This design seeks to add sparkle for the users, value for the future and functionality to the existing quality fabric of the bank.