Feature project: Shilling Bar & Brewery, Glasgow

A classically proportioned former bank building has been given a new lease of life in its transformation into a brewpub


Project Info

Client: Glendola Leisure
Design: Jestico + Whiles;
Size: 600 sq m
Duration: Four months


Words by: Emily Martin
Images by: James Harris

Glasgow has welcomed a new 160-seat brewpub to the city, seeing a former Commercial Bank of Scotland building transformed into the new space. The design, as delivered by Jestico + Whiles, strips back the old interior to reveal for the first time in decades the beautifully proportioned banking hall with magnificent coffered ceilings. Original features of the building, designed by architect James Miller and built in the Twenties, have been uncovered, discovered and cleaned for the Shilling Bar & Brewery.

The original high ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows of the bank building enable the space to be airy and brightly lit
The original high ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows of the bank building enable the space to be airy and brightly lit

Fluted marble columns now frame a glimpsed view to a wood-burning oven as well as more natural light coming into the space through the building’s original and now revealed full-height windows. It all forms part of a simple brief: to make the best brewpub in Glasgow. ‘We started with a rather brilliant building and then worked with the client on everything from the food and beverage offer to the menus and uniforms,’ explains James Dilley, head of hospitality and interior design at Jestico + Whiles. Using a narrative that draws on the site’s cultural, historical and geographical context, Jestico + Whiles says a major challenge for the project was creating a ‘coherent but subtle story’ for the new design, graphics and visual identity.

Right Jestico + Whiles was also involved with the graphic branding of the new offer
Right Jestico + Whiles was also involved with the graphic branding of the new offer

The resulting design scheme accommodates many local influences, including the history of brewing in Glasgow, the building’s bank – and its classical language – and ‘the overall Glaswegian context’. Graphics reference the traditional swirling ‘guilloche’ patterns printed on bank notes and include a purpose-made typeface called Brew. Visitors to the brewpub are met with a mural of a chained, majestic unicorn – the most resonant of Scotland’s heraldic symbols – that has been boldly applied to the panelling by local artist Gaz Mackay. 

A mural of a chained rearing unicorn – a Scottish heraldic symbol – has been applied to the wall at the entrance to greet visitors to the brewpub
A mural of a chained rearing unicorn – a Scottish heraldic symbol – has been applied to the wall at the entrance to greet visitors to the brewpub

A huge inset star embossed into the concrete floor signs the way to the bar, where huge copper vessels create a distinctive backdrop. ‘The craft beer offer is brought right to the front of the experience, while not being overwhelming,’ says Dilley. ‘As in most projects today, it all came down to communicating authenticity and provenance of the offer, which has worked very successfully here.’ In the basement, the original foot-thick steel vault doors lead to the lavatory facilities, tiled in black-and-white chequerboard while, hidden behind the strong room, a private space with a picture window provides views to the brew room.

Floor-to-ceiling windows flank the grand entrance to the new brewpub
Floor-to-ceiling windows flank the grand entrance to the new brewpub

The airy space is key to this interior design, but it came at a risk. ‘The big gamble was in the removal of an intrusive mezzanine that spoiled the exceptional proportions of the classical banking hall,’ says Dilley. ‘The significant loss of capacity was a concern, but the experience on entering the newly liberated space is a key driver in the success of Shilling.’ Jestico + Whiles also needed to overcome the problem of housing the brewing equipment, required to be on show and close to the bar to underline the place’s authenticity.

A private space features a picture window on to the brew room
A private space features a picture window on to the brew room

Careful positioning of the bar freed some previously obscured full-height windows, allowing sunlight to stream into the space. Combining natural light with the ‘simple, but theatrical’ lighting scheme has helped ensure a successful transformation to the space. Says Dilley of the project: ‘Our client has been great to work with as the motivation is to create unique destinations with a distinctive set of experiences’.

Key Suppliers

Flooring
Creation Flooring
Glasgow

Furniture
Koda Studios
Andy Thornton
LaPalma
Ambience Designs

Fabric
Southern Drapes
Clarke & Clarke
Digitex
Whistler Leather

Wallpaper
Tektura

Lighting
Buster + Punch
Atrium

Art
Gaz Mackay





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