Commercial property: Glasgow factory back in style

The Garment Factory, a refurbishment of a Glasgow office building which has announced the letting of its top two floors this week, is an interesting proposition.

The Garment Factory building, in Glasgow's Merchant City
The Garment Factory building, in Glasgow's Merchant City

The B-listed building, designed in 1897, is located at the corner of Ingram Street and Montrose Street in the Merchant City, and will provide 47,382sq ft of office and leisure space over six floors when complete.

The refurbishment project involves combining the restoration of the original features, including exposed ceilings, steel and brickwork, wooden flooring and ornate staircases, with the introduction of contemporary finishes.

It is being undertaken by a team which includes lead contractor ISG, project manager PMP and architect Morgan McDonnell Architecture for developer Castleforge Partners.

An artist's impression of the completed top floor, let to Threesixty Architecture

Guy Morgan of Morgan McDonnell Architecture says: “The building has gone full circle. When we first got involved we dug out the archive drawings from when it was developed by Campbell’s back at the turn of the [20th] century and the original floor plates were very open.”

As its name suggests, the building housed a textile business and was originally part warehouse, part factory and part offices.

As such it offers some interesting spaces which provide more than run-of-the-mill office space.

Lighting would have been of paramount importance because of the nature of the textile business and one of the great advantages of the design of the building is that it lets in natural light on all three sides.

An artist's impression of the completed top floor, let to Threesixty Architecture

However, over the years, the original ideas had been obscured.

Morgan says: “When Campbells sold the building, the council took it on and over a period of time it was subdivided again and again, layers of cellular changes were made.

“What we have done is effectively peeled back those layers and in terms of the floorplate, taken back to the original intention of the building with incredible open-plan spaces with lots of daylight. ”

Rachael Pittaway from Castleforge Partners, says interest in relocating to the building has come from both creative and corporate tech-based companies.

Architectural practice Threesixty Architecture and digital services provider Incremental Group have been confirmed as the first occupiers.

Pittaway says: “It is hard to find floor plates of this size in the Merchant City so that is a real attraction.

“Larger occupiers with 50 plus staff tend to base themselves in the city centre’s more traditional offices, but each floor at the Garment Factory will house 90 to 100 employees so it is something of a unique proposition in the area.”

Threesixty Architecture is taking the Garment Factory’s entire 8,374sq ft top floor on a five year lease.

The firm will benefit from one of the key listed features in the building, the north light serrated factory roof.

Morgan says: “It is designed so you don’t get any direct sunlight but the whole space is bright.

“We have completely overhauled the roof, re-slated it, insulated the building and all the original sash and case windows have been refurbished.”

While revealed features include the cast iron columns and beams there is also a practical reason for letting the original architecture shine too.

“It is to let the building breathe again,” says Morgan. “It is naturally ventilated with a chimney creating a stack effect so there is a green element to sticking with the original design.”