Kelvingrove Bandstand and Amphitheatre


Building owner/client:

Glasgow Life

Architect or lead designer:

Page\Park Architects

Local Authority Area:


Nominating Body:

Glasgow Building Preservation Trust

Project Description

Kelvingrove Bandstand and Amphitheatre is a unique external performance venue sited within the designed landscape setting of Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow, making use of the natural topography for the terraces of the amphitheatre. The venue opened in 1924 to designs by the City of Glasgow Corporation but by the mid 1990’s the venue had fallen into disuse. Glasgow Building Preservation Trust appointed Page\Park Architects to lead a design team to refurbish the Category B listed venue to ensure a sustainable future for the Bandstand. A strategic brief was developed by the venue’s operator Glasgow Life to deliver a functional outdoor venue capable of hosting a wide range of events, and the proposals were developed with key stakeholders including Glasgow City Council and interested community groups, such as the Friends of Kelvingrove Park – who had long campaigned for the restoration of the Bandstand. Whilst the approach adopted was to conserve and repair wherever possible, some alterations were required to both the bandstand building and the amphitheatre terraces, as in its original form the venue was not compliant with today’s legislation for access and safety and would be difficult to license in terms of public entertainment. The alterations to the building and amphitheatre take recognition of the original architectural and historical significance, and the design proposals were influenced by the Conservation Management Plan independently prepared by Simpson and Brown Architects. This supported the extension of the bandstand building to the rear to provide appropriate dressing room and support accommodation, and provide space for a platform lift to access the stage. Original drawings and historic photographs informed the proposals. Building fabric repairs were discussed and agreed with Historic Scotland, and fortunately the building was in a better condition than had been assumed, allowing greater salvage and reuse of materials. The lost Glasgow Coat of Arms crest and brattishing on the stage canopy were replicated by an architectural pattern maker. The original loudspeaker horns on the stage canopy were refurbished for re-use as lighting. The modest new extensions at the rear of the bandstand do not block the open views east across the park, identified as being an original key design feature in the Conservation Management Plan. The works undertaken to the amphitheatre sought to preserve the character and line of the curving terraces, with the provision of cast-concrete bench seating to make the venue fully seated. Other adaptations made to improve safety and access included: additional stepped gangways; a cross aisle and making the entrance fully accessible. The bench seating to the front rows have been restored, retaining the original cast iron supports with new hardwood timber slats. During the works the contractor employed local apprenticeships and as part of the Heritage Lottery funding there were a variety of educational and participatory events open to the public. The venue enjoyed a successful opening season over the summer of 2014, including being a ‘live zone’ for the Commonwealth Games, staging various local community events and promoter led music and comedy performances.

Supporting Statement

The restoration of the Kelvingrove Bandstand is an exemplary conservation-led regeneration project. By combining community use, supporting the development of the arts and encouraging use of the parkland setting as a cultural venue – this project not only demonstrates conservation best practice, but also a holistic approach to regeneration. It was a challenge to develop proposals which met the community expectation to keep everything exactly the same along with the functional requirements of making the venue meet current regulations and offering sufficient facilities to support concert performances. The project proposals have understood the character of the original venue and its setting, what made this place special to the local community and have sensitively developed the alterations to enhance the offering and ensure the bandstand and amphitheatre remain relevant and appropriate for another generation’s use. The Bandstand is held with great affection in the hearts of the local community and consultations demonstrated that everyone was supportive of its refurbishment and re-use. The reopening of the bandstand is the culmination of decades-long community campaigning. The community feel a tremendous sense of ownership and cherish it as a community focal point in Kelvingrove Park. The bandstand plays host to many cultural and social activities which seek to strengthen that sense of community. As a venue, it brings investment in the local community with an increase in visitors attending events. From the initial opening, it was clear that the Bandstand was going to be popular. When in use, the bandstand draws people across the road and from the surrounding park to see what is going on. It always brings a smile to their face to see the building in use again, regardless of whether it is a professional concert or a community gathering. The detailed activity plan for the building to ensure engagement includes: the production of an audio visual record of archive material, the involvement of traditional skills apprenticeships in the construction project, the provision of schools resources and activities, programme of tours and talks, the production of interpretive banners and an event programme of performances. The venue was completed in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and became the focal point of Festival 2014 in the West End of the city, hosting a wide array of cultural activities and performances from all over the Commonwealth. The Bandstand was the venue for the finale of the West End Festival and was the key venue for the ‘Mela’. Local community groups and charities have utilised the bandstand at a discounted rate which has enabled Hillhead Primary School to host concerts and the RSPB to provide a community education presentation. The venue was then host to the inaugural ‘Magners Summer Nights’ series of evening concerts of popular music groups, each with a local connection. Afternoon events were held at the weekend including comedy acts and the event organisers are enthusiastic about holding future events including classical concerts and theatre productions.