Top3Tuesday: Jude Barber

Jude Barber is a Scottish architect and director at Collective Architecture.  The 40-strong, employee owned studio has offices in both Glasgow and Edinburgh. Collective Architecture specialises in arts and culture, housing, shared community facilities and conservation.
In parallel with her studio practice, Jude has undertaken several close collaborations with local organisations, activists, artists and writers.  She was co-director of the award-winning Empire Café with writer Louise Welsh during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Jude recently exhibited ‘The Better Days’ solo exhibition at the Briggait Gallery Spaces, Glasgow during the 2016 Archi-Fringe programme.

Barber previously worked with Reiach and Hall Architects and Malcolm Fraser Architects in Edinburgh, Dominique Perrault Architects in Paris and was a founding member of GLAS Co-operative (Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space).  She is an external examiner at the Department of Architecture at The University of Sheffield, a Board member of the Glasgow Women’s Library, has written for several architectural publications and is former Convenor of the Saltire Society Housing Design Awards (2000-2016).

Jude kicks off our 2017 Top3Tuesday series with a rich variety of inspirations and activities.

3The Architecture Fringe

Architecture Fringe

I was fortunate to take part in last year’s 2016 Architecture Fringe. It was a grass roots programme of events that took place around Scotland during the Year of Architecture, Design and Innovation.  The Fringe filed an important gap in the discourse surrounding our built environment and offered a welcome – and essential – alternative to more established events and organisations.  I was thoroughly enthused by the Architecture Fringe process – particularly the early, informal group discussions that took place.  There was an optimism and energy that was as important as the programme itself.  For the event I created a project called ‘The Better Days’ in association with The Saltire Society and an event called ‘Voices of Experience’ at the Glasgow Women’s Library in association with colleagues at Collective Architecture and Suzanne Ewing ESALA. The wide-ranging programme was textured, critical, observant and playful.  It provided space and time to reflect, challenge and imagine.

2National Health Service Leaflet

The National Health Service was established in Britain on July 5th 1948, as one of the major social reforms following the Second World War.  Its founding principles were to provide comprehensive, universal and free healthcare at the point of delivery.  I am continually struck by the simplicity, bravery and clarity of the NHS leaflet that was issued to all residents.  The opening message states ‘Everyone – rich or poor, man, women or child – can use it (the new National Health Service) or any part of it.  There are no charges, except for a few special items. There are no insurance qualifications.  But is it not a ‘charity’.  You are all paying for it, mainly as taxpayers, and it will relieve your money worries in time of illness’.  This leaflet – and its message – is a constant reminder to me of a hopeful, generous and courageous period in our history.  Brave ideas can become reality.

1The Royal Commonwealth Pool by RMJM (1970)

When I was a lot younger and fitter I used to compete in swimming competitions.  I spent a huge amount of time with my fellow team members and coaches touring around Scotland’s towns and cities at the weekends.  We’d literally spend days in pools and sports centres.  The pool that always struck me the most was the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.  It sits against the backdrop of Holyrood Park and the volcanic mound known as Arthur’s Seat.  As a young person from the North of Scotland I thought the building was simply beautiful and it was wonderful to compete there.  The natural light used to beam into the space and filter through the water as you swam.  It wasn’t until I studied architecture that I realised this was an internationally renowned building by the modernist architects RMJM.  Even today it evokes strong memories and, in my opinion, still stands out as one of Scotland’s seminal civic buildings.