Glasgow is about to embark upon one of its biggest ever programmes of building. Graham Caldwell and Lucy Ash look at nine of the developments that may change the face of the city.
Glasgow’s place in the natural order
of things has sadly diminished since
the days of the Empire Exhibition. Both the industrial revolution and
i the lean years of the late 205 and 305
exacted their toll on the city. The sprawling tenements built to accommodate the huge numbers of migrant workers became over-populated slums and when jobs disappeared in the pre-war years, swiftly became the stamping ground of fearsome razor gangs such as The Cumbie - originating in the Gorbals Cumberland Street — and Bridgeton‘s Billy Boys. At this point. Glasgow became a city with a bad reputation.
When Britain elected a Socialist government after the war, council house building got under way in earnest — something subsequent Conservative governments carried on. Glasgow, ofcourse, joined in; and this is where things started to go badly wrong. The city replaced inner-city deprivation with even worse outer-city deprivation. Glasgow rapidly became known — through schemes like Castlemilk and
I Easterhouse - as the centre of the
worst urban deprivation in Europe.
Something which remains true to day.
It now seems, however, that the widely held opinions about Glasgow are undergoing a change. The turning point was the adoption of the Miles Better campaign, under the auspices of ex-Lord Provost, Dr Michael Kelly. There were never any bones made about the fact that the campaign was anything other than a huge marketing exercise. The attitude was that ‘alright, Glasgow has its bad points — but it has lots of good ones too.’ When regarded as such, it cannot be viewed as anything other than a success. It changed a lot of minds. This was the first stage in
- the rise ofGlasgow.
The realisation by big business that the city was not. perhaps, as bad a place as they thought, together with the severe cutbacks in public spending, has led to a curious result. The District Council are desperate to get private money into the city to swell depleted coffers and private developers are falling over themselves to build there.
Even a casual visitor to the city cannot fail to notice that is impossible to walk 50 yards in any direction without coming across
some evidence of rebuilding. This, together with the publicity given to the Burrell Collection, the forthcoming Garden Festival and the success of the Miles Better Campaign has led some people to say that Glasgow is reclaiming her previous status.
This apparent rejuvenation has not been without its critics, however. Glass shopping malls, street theatres and bistros do not seem to fit the lifestyle of the average Glaswegian. Is Glasgow becoming too colour supplementish for her own good? The obvious answer to that is that public demand is moving increasingly in that direction, with consumer tastes becoming more sophisticated. In a reversal of their post-war policies, the council are concentrating on the inner-city areas, while the Drumchapels and Easterhouses continue to decay through lack ofspending. Central Glasgow is awash with private housing while the only proposed public sector housing planned is in the outlined scheme for Hutchesontown ‘E’, the future of which is far from certain.
Turning away from the negative side, there is plenty to get excited about in the ambitious plans for Glasgow. The huge Parkhead Forge Shopping/Leisure Complex is not being left to fend for itself, but is going to be served by a completely new traffic route, giving easy access from all over the Eastern central belt, as well as a new railway station.
Glasgow also seems to have learned her lesson of the past, in that she no longer demolishes willy-nilly to accommodate her plans.
But Glasgow is trying hard and great care is being taken to retain the Victorian splendour of such developments as the Merchant City and Prince’s Square.
It is easy to be sceptical of plans for Glasgow: they are too ambitious, they are out of character with the city and they take no notice of the needs of most of the community. These are all valid points, but any improvement to Glasgow and her reputation must be welcome. By the time some of the proposals here are complete — I say ‘some’ because it is virtually certain that not all of them will actually be built — Glasgow should be a much improved place. Success breeds success
The Briggail is about to undergo itslltth
metamorphosis since it was first built in the mid-seventeenth century. Originally a hospital, it then became a merchant's house which was replaced bya tenement. In 1894 this was turned into the Human", 11,.
building has kept its Renaissance ster steeple, .3
which merchants used to climb to scan the
Clyde for incoming ships. this ramous teature
is retained when the Briggait opens next march as a glass-covered shopping mall- Glasgow’s answer to Covent Garden.
the complex has been built by the architect’s co-operative. Assist. which has grown in prestige since it began with a group of Strathclyde students designing bathrooms in Goran. ‘We wanted to leave the existing structure much as it is, because it’sa smashing building and everybody likes it,’ says James Johnson olAssist's management committee. Some ieel thatthe prominent indoor pipes and ducts were inﬂuenced by Richard Rodgers’ lnslde-out Pompidou Centre style. but MrJohnson insists that they are the cheapest method at heating a large space and are ‘neither glorified nor disguised'. The £4 million
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4 The List 29 Nov — 12 Dec