Govan Old Parish

Govan Old is a grade A listed church on the banks of the river Clyde in Govan near Glasgow. It is set within an ancient burial ground that dates from 500AD; the shape of which echoes an ancient ritual enclosure of a pre Christian religious site.




Govan Heritage Trust



This project forms an important part of regeneration plans for Govan. The redevelopment of Govan Old is named as a priority in the five-year regeneration strategy (2016-21) being delivered under the auspices of Central Govan Action Plan and which will draw funding from the Govan Cross Townscape Heritage Initiative & Conservation Area Renewal Scheme. The twin pillars of the proposal are, on one side, the creation of a museum and tourist attraction that draws visitor in large numbers to Govan and, on the other, the development of a property letting enterprise which owns and manages business space on the site and whose profits cover all running costs.
The church burial ground is a scheduled monument and cre­ates a landscape setting for a new extension to the church which allows for barrier free access throughout the building. The church itself will become the heritage centre with the 31 early medieval, Celtic and Viking Era hogback stones laid out in a new setting with interpretation, archive /classroom, per­formance space and community meeting spaces. A new se­ries of studio workspaces will complete a new church precinct to Govan making a setting for local festivals and events. The project is located within the Govan conservation area.

The audience will be international, national and local with Govan Old being part of Glasgow’s cultural circuit as well as a destination in its own right. The subject matter of the stones and the archaeological history of the place means that ed­ucation programmes are already in place with primary and secondary schools as well as Glasgow School of Art and Glasgow University. The project therefore has great reach having cultural, educational, community, event and business connections to the city and local community.

Sustainability will be achieved on different levels. At a financial level to make the centre function without reliance on grant subsidy and by the use of a river source heat pump and combined heating and power.

Through consulting with the Govan Heritage Trust and their multi-headed board we have designed a layered project that will create a sustainable equilibrium combining culture, edu­cation and local business. Consensus was achieved by work shopping the design proposals at various stages of feasibility before progressing to detailed design.

The Challenge

To transform the deconsecrated Grade A listed building and its surrounding burial ground into a self-sustaining and world-class visitor attraction, providing a fully accessible museum and venue space within the existing building as well as an adjacent new-build extension and separate studio building providing commercial space.

The Solution

Understanding the subject matter and the existing building has been critical in setting the basis for how the design has been developed across multiple phases spanning conservation and refurbishment, extension and new-build elements, with each being both interdependent as well as requiring to be considered as an individual piece.

The Outcome

Each area of the existing building and its grounds has been designed to maximise the usage of the building and enhance the setting of the Govan Stones whilst utilising energy-saving technologies such as a river source heat pump to ensure the sustainable future of the building.

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