Glasgow’s pitch for architectural glory puts people power at its heart. The bid outlines how the city plans to put the community back into community architecture, discovers Kathleen Morgan
lasgow‘s bid to become the City of
Architecture and Design I999 has been
shrouded in mystery since it was first
shortlisted. Whether the secrecy has been
down to clever public relations or sheer
disorganisation is unclear, but whatever the reason. the resulting blueprint for Glasgow‘s architectural future is serious stuff.
With community architecture at its core. Glasgow‘s bid smacks of democracy. its authors see it as an attempt to throw architecture into the public arena — and an end to the mentality which gave birth to Glasgow‘s sprawling 1950s peripheral council estates. lfthe bid gets past the cardboard cut out stage. it should humanise Glasgow‘s architectural landscape by asking the punters just what they want.
Throwing his weight behind the bid is Glasgow City Council leader Pat Lally. who swears his allegiance to community-led architecture. He believes tenant involvement in the city's architectural and design process is Glasgow‘s strength and hopes it will bag the 1999 title from under Edinburgh‘s nose.
As representative for Glasgow‘s Castlemilk. he has witnessed first-hand the work already underway to put the soul back into the city‘s housing estates. ‘lt‘s important to realise the impact architecture has on the lives ofordinary people.‘ he says. ‘ln Castlemilk there are groups of tenants involved in the design process for new-built and refurbished housing stock. That's crucial to Glasgow‘s approach to these matters.‘
This approach is not simply about people larnbasting new buildings springing up in their
Beidvale Housing Association, Duke Street
Much oi Glasgow's most interesting architectural work is being undertaken by architects working ior housing associations. This scheme in Glasgow’s East End demonstrates how good quality social housing can be integrated within an existing urban setting without resorting to imitation or pastiche.
The almost unyielding quality oi the Duke Street iacade ls lightened by simple devices Ike the recessed brick coursing. 0n the south- iaclng courtyard elevation, large windows allow light to ilood into the open-plan living spaces. This scheme is reminiscent in spirit oi the best oi Glasgow‘s past architectural achievements, in terms oi its conviction, coniidence and sensitivity to detail. Architects: Elder and cannon.
(Ian Glluan runs his own architectural practice and is a part-time tutor at Strathclyde
backyard — but a way ofenabling ordinary folk to help decide from the outset what gets built. where and how. Lally believes the city planners have learned difficult lessons from architectural disasters like the Gorbals‘ infamous Queen Elizabeth Square. Built on the foundations of hope and demolished in a cloud of disgrace last year. Sir Basil Spence‘s award—winning high rise blocks proved a thorn in the city council‘s side — one which it is ﬁnding difficult to shake off.
‘There were architectural disasters.‘ admits Lally. ‘ln the 50s and 60s architecture was not something any city could be proud of. It didn‘t meet the living needs of the community or the aesthetic needs of the city.’
Heading Glasgow‘s bid is the city's director of planning Mike Hayes. who coincidently worked in Liverpool until last year, helping the third shortlisted city shape its bid. ‘We can only look forward. not back.‘ he says philosophically. ‘People have learned hard lessons.’
Looking at Edinburgh‘s increasingly healthy record in creating modern public buildings, Hayes is not downheaned — he believes community involvement in shaping Glasgow‘s landscape is as important. ‘Edinburgh's got a lot of public buildings coming off — it just happens they have a lot of money to spend.‘ he says. ‘lf it was just about that l don‘t think we would be in there.‘
Housing associations all over Glasgow are leading the way in community architecture and have been doing so quietly for years, says Fraser Stewart. director ofthe New Gorbels Housing Association. He has been involved in a working group which helped shape the city’s final bid. The five-year—old housing association is part of a wide-scale regeneration
Greek Thomson’s church on St Vincent Street: one oi the several buildings that could be renovated ii Glasgow wins.
Two Max Building, Gorbals
In the process at becoming a post-industrial city, Glasgow has a legacy oi many ilne Industrial and warehouse buildings under threat oi demolition. The potential oi these buildings to be adapted ior imaginative mixed useage or low cost apartments based on llew York loit- style apartments is both enormous and under- expioited. .
Scotland’s oldest cast iron mill building, the Two Max was until recently in danger oi ialllng into irreversible disrepair. It is now being renovated and converted Into ottlces and studios - part at the large-scale process oi regeneration in the Gorbals. Architect: Richardson Associates. (Ian Gilzean)
12m List 1—14 July 1994