Bat had anything like the style we introduced into
W. Glasgow style’s
The music’s good, but it’s the surroundings that really impress. Fiona Shepherd discovers that Glasgow still leads the way in club design. i
As The Tunnel prepares to celebrate its fifth birthday in a position every bit as high profile as when it opened its doors as Glasgow‘s first style club. there‘s l a new club on the block — orjust a few streets away anyway — which rivals The Tunnel in its imaginative use of its premises. Archaos opened with a flourish last week and hopes to establish its place midway between the popular appeal of The Tunnel and the music—first connoisseur element of The Arches.
Before heading to your choice of these three spacious establishments. you can limber up for an evening‘s gyrating in any number of stylish watering holes which have sprung up in Glasgow over the last few years — Maxaluna. Mojo and The Gate being the most recent additions to the ranks. The style- conscious punter who wants to have his bottled beer i and drink it in a rarified environment is spoilt for choice. yet none of these establishments appears to be struggling for custom.
‘People‘s perception of design and what is comfortable in terms of the environment they want to be in has changed dramatically.‘ says Ron McCulloch. who designed and now runs The Tunnel along with The Volcano. Maxaluna and Puppet Theatre restaurant. ‘Just look at the amount of style- led media that‘s available to people now. Glasgow‘s always been willing to accept new things. Edinburgh takes a bit of time to come round to it. although they do in time.‘
McCulloch and Colin Barr. the publican entrepreneur who originally conceived the idea of The Tunnel. are proud of the way the club raised the design stakes in the city. although they are not coy about revealing where their ideas came from. Barr explains that the idea for the ceiling-mounted pipes dispensing draught lager came from seeing an old lady in a kitchen using a spring-loaded plate rinser: ‘I had to come up with an idea to make draught beer fashionable again because. at that time. everyone was drinking American bottled lager. After that. everyone wanted a pint of what came out of the ceiling.‘
‘The Tunnel was the first time we went full-on with a contemporary design.‘ says McCulloch. ‘Until then a lot ofthe influence in discotheque design was drawn from America. particularly New York and Los Angeles. but during the mid-80s there was a big design revolution in Barcelona. Milan and Paris. There was nothing in London or elsewhere in the UK
The Tunnel. The only place of any consequence at that time was The Hacienda. Ben Kelly has done some really good work [including Bar 10 and DLC hairdressers in Glasgow]. He was quite minimalist and industrial in his feel. He used big flashes of colour which have been in vogue since then.‘
Five years on. and Glasgow‘s newest club Archaos boasts a design which is less to do with the details that are so important in The Tunnel (although the
‘We’re trying to create a club which is much more tull of movement and action than just a space where you go to listen
to music and dance . . . we’re trying to
make it much more theatre-Iike.’
seating booths for lounging round the danceﬂoor are a welcome innovation) and more to do with overall use of space to create a club which is spacious but still has the illusion of offering many different subsidiary zones.
London-based designer Keith Hobbs. whose current project is designing U2‘s hotel in Dublin, was given free rein to convert the premises: ‘We're trying to create a club which is much more full of movement and action than just a space where you go to listen to
Great expectations: Co-owner ot Glasgow’s newest and most cavernous nlghtclub, Mark Goldlnget
music and dance. You could argue that it‘s not a requirement if you look at how rave operates and you can do it in an aircraft hangar. but in an environment where you‘re trying to create more options for people. we're trying to make it much more theatre- like. We’ve taken out floors and levels to create mezzanines. so the design really revolves round the use of the volume of space. and added to that is this quite crude use of materials to give a hard-edged look.‘
The novelty of a new design soon wears off and McCulloch stresses the need for reinvention: ‘Our philosophy is that you don't stand still. There‘s no other fashion or music-led industry that would dream of trying to sustain interest over a five-year period without changing anything. I think clubs should reflect that.‘
The bottom line is that good design is only one part of the equation.
‘People are more discerning.‘ says Barr. whose forthcoming project. The Apartment. will cater for yet another market. ‘You can have a design. but you need to back it up. People are looking deeper into things and you‘ve really got to be on the ball today. If you don‘t do it. someone else will.‘
Arc/tans has just opened in Queen Street. Glasgow: The Tunnel celebrates its ﬁfth birthday on Sat 28.
g The List 20 Oct-2 Nov 1995 79