It is not on a regular basis that a Glasgow-based company of architects and surveyors is asked to design a Gurdwara (Sikh temple) but that is exactly what happened when CRGP Ltd were invited to discuss this with local Sikh leaders.
The first meetings took place when Glasgow’s director of education, Malcolm Green was disposing of schools that were lying empty. The South Side Sikh community believed that a redundant school property could be adapted to suit their purpose.
They were interested in Stanley Street School. However, a deal had been done on this property and by chance one of its occupants was CRGP Ltd. Malcolm Green suggested that this company may be able to help them with the design of a new Gurdwara.
The Sikh leaders decided that it would be better to acquire some land and build their own Gurdwara, which could be fitted out to their precise requirements. A site was bought that lies adjacent to the Tramway Theatre in Albert Drive, Pollokshields and planning permission was approved to build the Gurdwara.
Tom Crombie, director and architect with CRGP said: “For me it was the beginning of a process where I had to understand the Sikh religion and the dos and don’ts of their architecture.
“A Gurdwara must provide a prayer hall, in which the focal point is the holy book, and a community kitchen. In addition to this, a ‘bedroom’ must be provided for the overnight accommodation of the holy book. As it is not permitted to walk over the holy book the prayer hall has to be located on the topmost storey of the building. Traditionally a dome is provided over the dais on which the holy book is placed.”
Crombie and his team visited Southall where one of the leading Gurdwaras outside of India is located. They were introduced to the subtle differences that distinguishes the Sikh religion from any other.
“One other thing that we must attend to,” said Crombie, “is the sourcing of an extremely large flagpole, which acts as a local identification symbol for the temple. It is known as a nishan sahib and it represents the freedom of the Sikh religion. It is to be made of hexagonal steel and it is clothed in an orange-coloured material. The actual flag is triangular in shape and features the Khanda, which is the Sikh emblem.”
The total cost is expected to be in the region of £5m and ground preparations are about to commence. It is anticipated that the Gurdwara will be open in around 18 months.