Reminiscence of Remnants

Reminiscence of Remnants

Huiran Cho


The waste crisis is imminent and thus calls for a paradigm shift in domestic behaviour, manufacturing, and the construction industry – from ‘building anew’ to ‘adaptive reuse’. Through the lens of material culture, waste serves its purpose until ultimately discarded. It constantly interacts with our daily lives and maintains its unique connection with the surroundings. Sir John Maxwell School is one of the derelict heritage buildings that are ruined and perceived as colossal junk within the local community despite its connoted local reminiscence. This project focuses on the potential to repurpose the place for the future generation and to investigate tangible ways to preserve reminiscence associated with the abandoned local heritage in Glasgow.



Tangible remnants, including gable structures, handrails and construction wastes, are salvaged after the demolition. Despite losing their initial architectural functions, these fragments harbour the potential to be repurposed as novel interior elements, all while retaining their inherent spirits associated with reminiscences of the school. In tandem with symbolic traces, there are also reminiscent colours from the past atmosphere of the school. Its vibrant atmosphere was carefully interwoven with a palette of colour languages, contrasting the red sandstone of the external walls.



The “Speur Chair” embodies a significant symbol of collective memory. Its wooden frame, adorned with patterned fabric, integrates discarded materials from the heritage building and the local area. Its structure is crafted by reusing wooden knee braces from the school’s demolition. Drawing inspiration from both the unique shape of these braces and the school’s identity as a ‘skylight school’, the chair is carefully designed to connect users with recollections of their heritage physically. This design offers them a natural sky-viewing experience while seated. Moreover, the chair’s name, “Speur,” meaning ‘sky’ in Scottish Gaelic, carries the added layer of the school’s historical significance as the first Gaelic unit in Glasgow. In the detail of the chair, there is reminiscent patterned fabric inspired by Victorian architectural decorations that have been demolished from a school’s interior. While the pattern concept employs ‘weave’ as its design language, it also signifies the intriguing history of weaving in Pollokshaws. Beyond merely encapsulating the school’s memories, the chair forges meaningful connections with Pollokshaws, thus accumulating historical narratives of the local area.



The ‘Reminiscence of Remnants’ is the main programme that invites the community to Sir John Maxwell School. This furniture-making workshop aims to re-establish the cultural bond between the heritage building and the local community through participatory engagements. Participants work together and learn from each other to build ‘Speur chairs’ using reclaimed local materials. This very initiative provides opportunities to foster craft skills by embracing the legacy of the heritage – collaborative learning. Throughout the workshop, people will encounter various hidden stories behind Sir John Maxwell School; how it has been connected to the local history, language, and community. This journey of finding the significance inherent in discarded materials will leave a meaningful trace in the local area, thereby preserving the cultural heritage and the local reminiscence.




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