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The Traders Tavern

Tom Deacon


The Mackintosh School of Architecture,

Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, UK

‘The Barras Traders Tavern’ is a Trade Union for the Barras Market.


An organized association of workers & tradesman formed to protect and further the rights, interests and history of the Barras Market.


The Barras market in the east end of Glasgow has been part of the city’s fabric for almost a century, taking its name from the barrow stalls that were once ubiquitous in the area.


But weekend markets and stalls are much quieter than they were in decades past and the level of trading and take-up of stalls is substantially lower than it was ten years ago.


Visiting the Barras Market on a cold weekend, some traders are already shutting up at midday, peak time of footfall. The tradesman who are still open appear less concerned about selling but rather socialising with their fellow market traders. At some stalls it feels as if the traders are here just as much to socialise as they are to trade and sell. Feeling at the fringe of the city with little support from the council through advertising or infrastructure. Is it the cold winter weather affecting the Barras traders or are they loosing sight of the Market’s potential?


The Barras people would benefit from an establishment, which celebrates and protects their culture whilst opening out their unique history to visitors, year round.


The Barras traders Tavern follows the programme of a traditional trade union incorporating council meetings, a assembly hall, library, gallery, bar and chairman conveyors suite.

But in a Barras style the programme will focus around the running of a large public house, a building of urban exchange open to both the traders & visiting public.


Visitors and tradesman can celebrate the Barras market’s rich culture over a pint of beer, or learn about its history in the trader’s gallery and library. It will have the resources to hold council meetings and space for market selling.

Tom could you start by giving us an introduction about yourself, where you have studied, what stage you are in your architectural career/degree?


I am a stage 4 post-graduate student at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, part of Glasgow School of Art. Before moving to the Mackintosh I studied my undergraduate degree at Central Saint Martins College of Art in London. I have one more year of full time study left to complete.



Why did you decide to study architecture?


Before applying for universities I enrolled on an Art Foundation course, which exposed me to a broad range of art and design practices. I took lessons in life drawing and sculpture, graphic design and printmaking. It was only after testing all these disciplines that I felt most comfortable on the architecture track. Architecture seemed to compliment my interests in model making and drawing.

I am also a keen skateboarder so have always been attracted to urban environments. (I cringe when I say this) but skateboarding makes you look at the built environment in such an obverse way. You look at streets and building as something potentially ‘skateable’, this is directly in conflict with how we are supposed to use the city.

These experiences led me towards pursuing the study of architecture and applied for university. I would say my academic fascination in architecture has developed through study.

Your project is situated in The Barras Market Glasgow, what persuaded you to locate your project here?


The Barras Market in the east end of Glasgow is a century old flea market. A market originally set up for the working class people in Glasgow to make an income by selling and trading second hand goods.
The market has since developed in to a village of haphazard market hall sheds. Market traders sell everything from antiques and furniture to vintage porn on VHS!

There is an informality and rawness to the area and the people. The market has a wealth of history and imagery, an ideal place to spark research into an architectural project.

In the description of your project you speak of the demise of the Barra’s Market over the last 10 year’s why do you feel this has occurred?


The Barras Market has suffered to a decline in footfall in recent years and there are a number of factors that are responsible for its demise since it’s hey day. But mainly it is the lack of support from Glasgow City Council who have neglected the area and its people for so many years.

There is a need for an urban revamp in terms of new paving and restoration of the built area. Better transport links and signage from the city centre to entice more visitors to the market.

In addition, the market is only open during the weekends leaving the place a ghost town during the week. More needs to be done to ensure the Barras Market does not become a ghost town at the weekends too.

However, regeneration would have to be done carefully. Gentrification is not the answer to the Barras’s problems. But, support and uplift of the urbanity of the area would help remove some of these issues.

The project consists of a Trade Union something in which is not often associated with contemporary architecture, why did you decide to explore this architectural typology?

The typology is a result of the programming of the building. The brief of the project was to design a public building of urban exchange. I wanted to propose a building that represented the Barras traders to Glasgow and to the visiting public. A trade union facilitates the spaces for the Barras traders to organise and govern the market more effectively. Providing meeting spaces, council rooms and administration offices.

Existing typologies are often associated with masonic institutions, built in classical and decorative style, triumphant and grand in presence.

It was important that the building didn’t become a secretive masonic temple. The combination of Trade Union with the ‘Traders Tavern’ (or pub) is the mechanism for public exchange, allowing traders and visitors to mix together over a pint of beer, doors open.
In terms of style, the building uses an industrial aesthetic in keeping with the area’s context, perhaps in contrast to the grandeur of past trade union typologies.


You explored a number of collages during your design process, how did these aid the development of the scheme?


The collages were a way of conceptualising the programme of the building before I started designing. The collages explore mixing together the formal programme of a trade union with the informal elements of the Barras Market.

Pieces of the Barras Market such as the market halls, pubs and Barrolands music venue are infused together into a figurative building. The programme and elements of the collages became the starting point to designing the proposal. 

The way in which you present your drawings and particularly your renders are very unique, has anybody or anything in particular inspired your graphical style?


I would say that the work of Yannis Hlkiopoulos’s Brooklyn Co-op was an influence when setting the scene for the axonometric drawing.

In terms of my renders, they were a process of trial and error. I didn’t use any rendering software as these images don’t quite sit within reality.

However in terms of representing an industrial aesthetic I would often look back at the work of Artur Nesterenko’s thesis ‘Retrofitting the American Dream’ as well as built work by the architects Olson Kundig.

Could you provide our readers with an insight into your drawing process, do you use a particular software to produce your drawings?  

Could you provide our readers with an insight into your drawing process, do you use a particular software to produce your drawings?  


I always start by hand sketching ideas and details in my sketchbook. For this project I drew many iterations in plan and section before I began to model anything.

I then built a digital model in Rhino 3D. Once I had set up my views I exported both a raster and a rhino render from Rhino and applied textures to these images in Photoshop.

What are the 3 things you feel you have learnt by undertaking this project?


I learnt a great deal about Glaswegian pubs when designing this project. Analysing and recording their spatial elements before implementing ideas into my own project. Research was taken very seriously by drinking at Glasgow’s many watering holes!

Being new to Glasgow I have learnt a lot from this city and its people in contrast to my time spent in London.

Apart from programs and software I learnt a great deal from the students around me in this academic year. Talking to your friends in the studio is the best way to make design decisions.

If you could offer one piece of advice to our architecture student followers what would it be?

Architectural education is a long process use this time to explore the things you are really interested in be it drawing, modelling or writing, or opportunities such as travel and study visits.

Make sure to talk and share your ideas with your friends in the studio. You will learn just as much from the students as your tutors.

Finally, where can people find out more about you and your projects?


You can find more about me and my work on instagram, @tommdeacon and also on ISSUE, Thank you.

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