The Pyramid at Anderston
The Pyramid at Anderston is a landmark on the Glasgow skyline, both from the M8 and within the city and West End. Designed by Glasgow architects Honeyman, Jack and Robertson and completed in 1968, it was built as part of the post-war redevelopment of the Anderston area. There had been a church in Anderston since 1770 and a total of three churches in the area were demolished in the 1960s to make way for the M8; the proceeds funded the new Anderston Parish Church which became the Anderston Kelvingrove Parish Church in 1978, after amalgamating with Kelvingrove Church. The design vision was for a less-hierarchical church building, within a notable pyramid modernist design with brutalist traits and an extraordinary amount of community spaces – two large halls, classrooms, meeting spaces and offices as well as the main worship space. In 2019, following further re-development of the area and a significant decline in the congregation, the Church of Scotland sold the building which then entered its new life as The Pyramid.
The B-listed church was bought out for the community in 2019 as the 100th project to receive support from the Scottish Land Fund. Since 2019 it has been in the hands of the community-led Trust and was recognised as a Community Anchor Organisation by the Scottish Government last year. The Pyramid responded quickly to the Covid19 pandemic, with a fast-evolving programme; even during the most severe lockdowns, The Pyramid continued to operate, providing essential food, fuel, digital and welfare support, hand sanitiser and masks, along with wellbeing and recovery programmes, sports and exercise, community festivals and celebrations, music groups, online activities, a Summer of Play with over 100 sessions for local young people, community café and cooking, the establishment of new adult learning and ESOL programmes – and more. Many new networks, groups and activities have been created at The Pyramid during the pandemic, including a Green Spaces group, Women’s Integration Network, a Families Club, Wheel-Being and cycling programmes. Team Pyramid has grown from two part-time staff in August 2019 to a complement of five, with three new posts currently being appointed, and the Pyramid’s network of members, supporters and partners has grown exponentially.
Alongside this, the team embarked on a programme of major capital development, to conserve the building, redevelop the community spaces, improve accessibility and incorporate carbon reduction measures. In June 2020 they secured a £1.1 million award from the National Lottery Community Fund to undertake a phased programme of building improvements and renovation, with a new lift making the whole building accessible for the first time, concrete and roof repairs and the renovation of the kitchen and large hall. Despite the twin challenges of post-pandemic operation and exceptional increases in construction costs, work began on site in Autumn 2021. More funders, organisations and individuals have bought into The Pyramid’s rights-based vision for a community facility focused on wellbeing – the health, prosperity and quality of life of community members – and protecting and improving its environment. This has led to further support for the organisation to transform the large hall into a high spec sports hall, make heritage standard external repairs and create a new zero waste community shop and pantry.
Despite the pandemic and multi-year construction work, the Pyramid has been able continue to serve the community by carefully developing the construction to keep sections of the building open. Ongoing collaborations with local schools, housing authorities, other third sector organisations and others are producing a range of innovative programmes and projects, but The Pyramid is also home to the community’s celebrations, parties, events, gathering and groups such as Knit and Natter, community cinema, music groups, the community council, sports groups and more – it will always be somewhere to connect with others.
The work delivered to date is ambitious and wide ranging, attracting participants from throughout Glasgow, as well as the local community, all while the construction crews are onsite.
The Pyramid has demonstrated how far and fast progress can be made when a community takes control of an asset, is involved from the beginning and is the consideration for everything that happens in their space.
“What could be better for Anderston and Finnieston than to have their very own community-owned space?
“There are very limited social spaces in the area and it’s the kind of informal relationships, neighbour to neighbour, which are at the heart of our vision and hopes for the Pyramid… But it’s not just about the building, it’s really about the people who use the building. This is now their place, a place for them to connect, create and celebrate – a place to work together, a place to support others for whom life is tough and a place to share skills, hobbies and talents with each other to continue you make our community a brilliant place to live.”Tom Moffat, chair of the Pyramid at Anderston in 2019