functionalist credo. ‘It points to the past, but also to the present and I think the future.’
Paterson’s aptitude for making historical links surfaces again in another work, We Fall in Patterns too Quickly, which was inspired by a photograph of a pile of discarded architectural models in Denys Lasdun’s office. Lasdun was closely involved in the lCA during the early 50s and was one of the main supporters of the Independent Group of artists and designers including Eduardo Paolozzi. Victor Pasmore, Peter Smithson and Nigel Henderson. Critic Reyner Banham dubbed their approach ‘the new bmtalism’. What Paterson’s work does so ingeniously is to look at the ways in which brutalist design could still be considered beautiful or even spiritual. He re- endows the post-war rebuilding project with utopian possibilities.
Paterson’s interest in urban architecture grew in tandem with his skateboarding activities, which he credits with giving him ‘a slightly different approach to cities’. The possibilities a skateboarder sees in a building may be invisible to others, as Glasgow’s skaters discovered when one of their favourite spots, Bath Street banks, was demolished a couple of years ago.
Paterson is interested in specific types of architecture, what French writer George Perec called, ‘the uninhabitable: the architecture of contempt or display, the vainglorious mediocrity of tower blocks, thousands of rabbit hutches piled one above the other. the cut price ostentation of company headquarters.’ On travels through Europe and America, Paterson tracked the work of the architects who rebuilt the post-war cities, and
then traced how the ideas of Le ‘I am Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe of
were translated by paler imitators
back in Blighty. architeCture ‘l have a sort of morbid curiosity because of
about the origins of these forms,’ he
says. ‘Le Corbusier introduced the terrible results doctrine that architecture directly in Scotland,
affects behaviour, and then that was
co-opted by other architects in ways
that changed people’s lives negatively. I am gripped by this kind of architecture because of the terrible results of Le Corbusier- inﬂuenced 60s and 70s architecture in Scotland.’
Examples of failed modernist architecture were not difficult for the artist to ﬁnd in his home town, from Basil Spence’s intractany damp Hutcheson ﬂats, that were finally demolished in I993. to the abandoned Anderston complex near Glasgow city centre which forms the basis of his latest work. ‘lt was built by Colonel Richard Seifert, who was also responsible for Centrepoint in London.’ says Paterson. ‘l’ve always been interested in Anderston because it was never really successful. At one time there was a bus station beneath it, and there was the idea of total lifestyle, that your ﬂat, shops and transport were all connected. But it didn’t work because people don’t want to live in little pods.’
For the Glasgow leg of the Beck’s Future’s tour, Paterson will be making a wall painting based on a concrete and reinforced glass stairwell from Seifert’s doomed development. It’s the most recent in his Sunlit Emergency Exit series which has previously invoked stairwells seen in Switzerland and France.
The sunlight is important, and so is the idea of the exit. Like Lubetkin, Paterson is not really a fonn-follows-function kind of guy. His work is always addressing the ways in which a structure could exceed or confound expectations. ‘I want to point out a meaning that is not immediately apparent,’ he says.
Although his work is meticulously researched and engaged with social politics, it is also very beautiful. There is no graffiti, broken glass or dubious damp pools on these stairwells: they are composed of clean lines, hard edges and beautiful bright colours. Paterson . knows his history, but his work somehow eludes the clutch of the H“ past. His cities are reimagined in sunlight, still full of possibilities.
Beck’s Futures 2002 is at CCA, Glasgow from Sat 3 Aug-Sun 22 Sep.
1-8 Aug 2002 THE LIST 9