Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The End Of The Road

The Glasgow skyline will never be the same again. Anyone who travels into Glasgow along the M8 westbound, or even more along the M80, will know what I'm talking about. The process, long signalled, of demolishing the Red Road flats began last week.


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In that satellite picture, the cluster of buildings in the middle is notable for the lengths of the shadows. Those are the Red Road flats. There are eight shadows: six of conventional tower blocks and two of triple-size "slab" blocks, wider than they are tall. When I say "conventional", these were the tallest residential buildings in Europe when they were built.

Well, one of the slab blocks is gone now.

The Red Road flats were built by Fairhurst back in 1967. The picture of the new flats on their site (see link) is one of very few that I've found showing all eight blocks (apart from the satellite picture above, and this one). Over the years since their construction, the Red Road flats have had their supporters and detractors, but the word "iconic" can undoubtedly be applied to them. When the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland selected 100 images of Scottish buildings and structures for an exhibition, Red Road was included (to the disgust of a commenter who noted that the Stones of Callanish had NOT made it into the exhibition). When an online vote was taken to find the most popular of the images, Red Road didn't win, but the top three might surprise you: they did me. All the hundred images are interesting and they're well worth a look.)

The flats have inspired various artworks over the years. The Andrea Arnold film is excellent if exceedingly depressing, and George Logan's photographic exhibition must have been fascinating. The Red Road Underground documentary is interesting, as are the other "People's History" projects here. I love the idea (see the Guardian link above) of a tightrope walker doing a Man On Wire-style crossing between two of the towers (even if the wind was too strong for him to complete the crossing). Personally I shall miss the blocks when they are all gone. I shall miss the comfortingly familiar way they loom over the M8. I shall mourn the passing of another evocative piece of 1960s architecture, and of one more thing gone which was uniquely Glaswegian.

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