#Postcards from the Old Victoria

Heres’s a few images from a recent commission by Sanctuary Housing Group to document elements of the sprawling, Old Victoria Hospital site as it finally closes a chapter on its life, prior to redevelopment and partial demolition. In someway the grandeur, character, and ambition for the hospital, its aspiration for the healthcare of the city’s people, epitomises Glasgow’s Victorian vision. Despite modernist 70’s repair work and later refurbishments, new laboratories, teaching facilities and wards added in raw concrete spirit, what grew from the competition winning design by Campbell Douglas & Sellars has reached the end of its working life, with the NHS’s recent sale of the site to Sanctuary Housing.

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Stripped and decommissioned of all its working functions, plaster peels from the walls and abandoned medical notepads hang from ward entrances; the building’s future in new hands. The site is characterised by its relationship to the adjacent Battlefield area of Glasgow, having  main public frontages both to Queens Park at the top of a sloping triangular site, and to Battlefield Cross, with wings of wards with distinct curved balconies and 70’s refurbishments lining the hill between, defined by ornate towers and cupolas that pierce the skyline.

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The site provides a great opportunity for redevelopment and despite the challenges in procurement these days and finding the right architect for the site, there are strong hopes that the developer in acknowledging both the potential for the building and its connection to the lives of many families and Glaswegians, will retain key elements beyond the only ( surprisingly ) listed entrance building, the one with the panther engraving and ornate heraldry.

With Queens Park and the increasingly popular areas of Battlefield, Shawlands and Mount Florida on its doorstep – it will be interesting to see how plans for new housing take shape, and are integrated into the site.

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More often photographing completed buildings, it was interesting to determine how to capture a building that will be significantly demolished and refurbished. With a relatively open brief I focused on elements of architectural interest with a hope that they highlight significant features, and perhaps lesser well known views… As with much of Glasgow, it is not until one takes the time to stop and look closely or look up that we truly appreciate these old buildings; it seemed right to convert some of the views to black and white which helps freeze the passage of time on this site’s story before it enters a new beginning. Maybe one day I’ll come back and buy a flat! Better get saving!
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