The Practice was delighted to be asked by Gareth Hoskins Architects to work with them on 'A Gathering Space', Scotland's first purpose-built exhibition space at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2008. Gareth Hoskins won the prestigious competition run by the Lighthouse Centre for Architecture and Design in Glasgow, beating over 50 other firms. The pavilion is a set of slightly twisting stairs/seats rising to a seven metre high platform providing elevated views over the Grand Canal. Inside the stairs is a space for hosting events. The building is made from TGI joists clad in Sterling Board, forming the steps onto timber frame walls and a cranked timber beam formed from four timber-strand beams spanning the exhibition space. The exterior of the structure is clad in Scottish larch. There were a number of engineering challenges caused by the low bearing allowable on the piazza and the overall stability of a structure that was to accommodate 100 people on the steps.
The exhibition stands near Santiago Calatrava's new bridge over the Grand Canal. Most of the £100,000 funding came from the Scottish Government, however the Marquess of Bute also donated £25,000 to the project. The pavilion was very well received in Venice and there was extensive exposure in the architectural press including The Herald, Building Design, Blueprint and The Financial Times, amongst others. David Narro attended the opening event and some of the other talks and events held in it over the first weekend of the Biennale.