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Old June 13th, 2005, 12:40 PM   #1
escotregen
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Why Do They Hate Them?

Maybe a naive question this - but do other forum members experience a generalised opposition, at times amounting to almost hatred, of high-rise buildings among many Glaswegians? I'm sure it's true (if it is) of other UK cities, but my experience is mostly of Glasgow.

This thought was again prompted in my mind by some postings on another Forum. Essentially, all the contributors had an evident inbuilt assumption that high-rise residential blocks were all bad and unremittingly bad. No one challenged this assumption (me included). However, my experience in working for the old SSHA in the city in the 1980s was that 'multi-storeys' were popular with many of the most important people i.e. the ones who lived in them.

In one episode where we clever professional chaps thought up a scheme to 'relocate' aged tenants out of what we thought were unsuitable dwellings and into nice traditional low level flats (apartments). When we then consulted with the tenants (something that many local authorities to this day cannot do effectively) we discovered that the tenants did not want to be moved. They valued the high security of their blocks, the generous internal space and the views. Upgraded security services and on-call support services (that technical innovations had made feasible) were what the tenants wanted; and got.

I have recently visited some of the high-rise blocks that the GHA has now ear-marked for demolition. My impression is that most, perhaps all, of these blocks showed the signs of poor management and considerable under-investment over many decades. In other words the problems were little to do with the nature of high-rsie, more to do with post-construction management. The main systemic failure to do with the structures themselves, it seemed to me, lay in the brutal awful external designs. This scenario seems similar to the one depicted in the recent postings on the clearance and demolition of many ex-council houses in Glasgow.

I suspect that this dislike of high-rise residential blocks extends for many people to commercial structures. I myself do at times ask 'yes, but why there, it does not belong there'. One example is the South Lanarkshire HQ building in Hamilton. I think it's a superb example of it's type but wholly in the wrong setting - small town Scotland - and it was a core cause in the degradation of central Hamilton into a car-racing commuter doughnut.

So, do Glaswegians really hate high-rise developments?
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Old June 13th, 2005, 01:39 PM   #2
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Because its easy (and fun too!) to have something simple to blame for all the social problems in the city. Ask anybody in the street and they will blame concrete tower blocks in glasgow for everything from increased crime levels to our poor performance in 2006 world cup qualifying.

Good post - should get some good debate going here! while i think of a more grown up answer
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Old June 13th, 2005, 02:41 PM   #3
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think its true what the bango sez.

they are physical manifestations of post war social policy - they are emblematic of a new kind of Britain that was developed following 2 massive wars. they are easy ****** targets.

“totems of black magic - sinful stacks of human misery, towers of shite.

walking past stirlingfaulds (23 storeys of black-block hell) yesterday. In the sun trying to see beauty, trying to find something positive about the aesthetic, the tarmac carpark surroundings and the barbed wire fences and glittering broken glass . . . . everywhere.

internally, there are many lost souls - junkies, drunks, thugs . . only a few regular folk left, god help them.

I wondered; Did the designers, did the builders, the bricklayers, engineers, accountants and councillors know what they were doing? Can you imagine they did? Can you imagine they planned for all this misery?

I thought it must have been Sauron's legions in charge of development 25 years ago: orcs with rotting flesh laying brick upon brick, infusing the very structure with pain and suffering, the mortar thickened with human blood and children's tears, dog shit and phlegm.

The superstructure was surely topped off with a satanic ceremony, blessing the steel and concrete with negative spirits; weakness and addiction, hopelessness and disease. (Apparently, a similar ceremony occurred during the laying of foundations wherein a pensioner was garrotted and sunk into the freshly poured grey swill.)

Imagine the designers at their boards - plotting future uses for the rooms they’ve planned: “okay, this flat is for a gang of neds, drunk on El dorado and professional knife carriers to a man. Their dog is long dead and used as a stab cushion, and the girl crashed out on crack is used as . . . . .”

Next door? “A couple live happily together. They are sadists. They have a prisoner they like to torture. He is covered in lice but eats well . . . “

This is my favourite: the flat for two junkie parents are their 6 year old daughter; such thought and care given over to chemically-charged spatial ergonomics.

Hopefully junkie dad will not get into the habit of accidentally scalding his daughter with boiling water, like he did last week when he tripped on the kettle flex.

The architects did not intend for this to happen.

Honestly.”

Despite my nightmarish thoughts yesterday, Personally, I think high rise has real potential in Glasgow and you are right Escotrogen to assume that many of those who live in high rise actually like them. In my experience, their opinions are under represented in the popular press.

Why?

Because it’s too difficult to present the truth in regards to the failure of housing policy, so it’s easier and more palatable to blame ‘hi-rise’.

Bingo Bango is pretty much bang on as far as I’m concerned.
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Old June 13th, 2005, 03:04 PM   #4
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taking carried away to new levels SI!... very funny though
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Old June 13th, 2005, 03:42 PM   #5
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thanks SI, love the garrotted pensioner.....LOL
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Old June 13th, 2005, 03:53 PM   #6
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Yes throughly amusing SI!

Seriously though escotregen has a good point here. I am a child of high rise and I loved living in them. I think in Glasgow the issue with high rise is a combination of pre and post construction management issues. To my mind it seems that pre construction choice was an issue i.e. you were plonked into a high rise whether you wanted to be there or not and that as part of the comprehensive redevelopment process whole communities were scattered to the four winds without anyone realising that this did have an impact on the pysche of a place. It was a very unitarian solution i.e. more about numbers housed and units generated than about less tangible issues. Post construction it is defintely down to management or lack of. Maintaining a high rise is inevitably expensive and I don't think this factored in in the rush to get these things built or if it was it would have been assumed that rental incomes would cover this and alas the Glaswegian economy post comprehensive redevelopment didn't support that.
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Old June 13th, 2005, 04:11 PM   #7
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Yep SI, total Hardcore post, but chillingly accurate.

'Tis true though: "Social problems? Blame it on the Commie Blocks. Thats where all the trouble makers come from......"


A lot of people hate highrise purely because the ones we have just now look shite. They dont even take into consideration the stuff that goes on inside them, just what they look like, and what the people that frequent them look like.

"No, I dont want to see another one of those things getting flung up - not when its going to be full of those people"


For many, hatred of High-rise is a very shallow, superficial thing.
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Old June 13th, 2005, 04:25 PM   #8
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thanks guys!

mind wanders/wonders on mondays.

actually escotregen v good pooint re Hamilton. I love that building but I never really considered the 'blast radius' effect it must have had on the town's reorganisation.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 01:15 AM   #9
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There is nothing intrinsically wrong or right with high rise, the public's antipathy to the form can be explained almost entirely by Britain's and particularly Glasgow's traumatic recent history (the remainder by well documented self serving NIMBY opinions which I wont trouble you with here).

It is easy to criticise with hindsight but, if you look logically at the post war development plans the potential for the outcome we are left with today could and SHOULD have been grasped. Was it malevolance? Probably not, but I do think there is sufficient ambiguity to prevent it being discounted.

Clearances, 1960's
The biggest sin as I see it was the clearances, Clearances. I don't accept as valid the argument that the council were simply trying to improve lives, were that so opinions in the community would have been heeded, sanitary and general remedial works could have been carried out, all at far lesser expense to the taxpayer. Glasgow city council were clearly working to a different gameplan (See Financing). Much is made, much is said of the Highland clearances. The landowning gentry evicting their tennants, ostensibly to improve the lives of those at the bottom of the social ladder. Sound familiar? Both periods saw the brutal ending of an era, the Scottish countryside and urban Glasgow, two sides of the same coin. One happened hundreds of years ago the perpetrators are widely vilified, of the other we hear little.

Clearances, 2005
The contrast with present clearance program is stark, despite what has been said previously the blocks being demolished are ALL half empty, occupied flats have high turn overs with migrant tenants or dossers. Yes, we get the sob story of the granny who's lived there all her life, but people VOTED to transfer to GHA, they are VOTING on individual demolitions, Exhibit A, the blocks in Anderston...
Quote:
In a high turnout of 81.5% of the tenants, 73.6% voted for the transfer to go ahead
http://www.sanctuary-housing.co.uk/news.asp

... a landslide in other words. THREE QUARTERS of the residents (on a high turn out, 20% obviously didn't care) voted to have their own homes demolished and these are the more desirable city centre flats, quite incredible remember obviously advantage lies with the "no" vote, most people don't like the upheaval and fear of change, but still a landslide. Does that tell you nothing? If (as I think should happen) the vote was open to surrounding home owners, the people who actually have to look at the damn things everyday on route to work, shops or whatever, these blocks would be dust already.

Fact is these towers are an absolute disgrace that all Glaswegians should be ashamed of, ask anyone outside the city of their perceptions and commie blocks feature highly on any list. It's a perception that must be tackled if we are to boost our growing tourism industry. You may scoff, but Stalinist rows of slate grey municipal blocks punching the sky on a gloomy winters evening has got to depress anyone, even if only subconsciously. A lick of paint or tellytubby panneling isn't going to improve matters.

Economy
Another serious issue I have is that of damage done to the economy. Now you can't say that this was evil or malicious. But you can look at the facts of what happened, I take the Townhead Comprehensive redevelopment area as an example as I happen to have figures to hand.


http://www.theglasgowstory.com/image...%26amp%3Bl%3Dy
Quote:
The plan proposed to reduce the number of dwellings from 6,500 to 2,400, the population from 19,000 to 7,000, and the number of shops from 420 to 60.
What get's me every time is that this wasn't some unforeseen side effect THEY ACTUALLY PLANNED to reduce the number of shops and services (all of them must have been family run), reduce the number of homes (well built homes), reduce the population... all this from a council who's stated policy objective was to maintain the city's population, power and influence. A council who said the only way to maintain population was to build high rise, a fact proven to be a downright lie by the council's own statistics from at least as far back as 1970 and surely from inception.

Siting
Why not use old industrial lands in the photo above you can see College goods yard, a vast site derelict to this day. Why on Earth could the new towers not be situated there? You have to say such planning decisions were highly illogical, or rather more importantly, logical BUT APPLIED TO THE WRONG CITY. These schemes were dreamt up to replace war damaged housing stock in London, Liverpool, Coventry and in those cities made some degree of sense with the significant scale of war damage. Not so in Glasgow and yet these plans were imported word for word from England (Just like the "Garden city" plans before it), with no thought given to context. Clearly this was symptomatic of a deeper cultural/artistic/psychological and economic collapse going on within Glasgow. That our fall from grace could be so totally catastrophic and occur within such a few short decades is... I don't know. Just sad. Glasgow stopped being Glasgow, we were just any old place. Some planning decisions definately had some sort of political motivation to them. I can't think why Thomson villa's would be sacrificed to make way for deck access blocks, a form of housing recognised at the time to be in critically short supply. On the other hand, responding to accusasions on Hamilton town hall. I disagree. I be4lieve towers are suitable anywhere, I have no inherent opposition to a 20 storey tower (say) going up in a small village. In many ways the balls, shock of contrast would be exhilirating. The Utopian "tower in a park" modernist view would be realised at last. Subject to design, quality controls.

Financing
The financial arrangements that made redevelopment possible were highly dubious. No private sector investment, just massive state hand outs. "Free" money getting shovelled out from London... In a situation like that the culture was ripe for crackpot schemes. If someone offers you a wad of cash with insane stipulations that you MUST use it to build high rises or you wont get a penny.... what are you going to do? As the schemes got larger though and the council ever more desperate to be SEEN to be making an impact they mortgaged their future, OUR present on ever more maniacal plans. Until the recent GHA handover we were still paying interest on construction loans, you couldn't make this stuff up. Vast sums of money were splurged on these supposedly "economic" and "efficient" models, much was made of alleged cost savings from building higher, the true cost was hidden through layers of subsidy. Much vaunted prefabrication proved to be a false economy, despite being untested, unproven the technology was rolled out nationwide. The true cost of all this folly would become immediately apparent from the first tennants moving in.

Building standards
That buildings of such laughably poor quality should be thrown up is scandalous, from the cowboy builders, working to bad plans with lousy designs and poor quality materials. Priority given to haste and volume of construction

Social imbalance
To build nothing but one type of housing, socially rented flats, is going to cause problems. That ought to have been obvious. Glasgow was transformed from a city of home owners and private renters to a city dependant on the state. Is this the root of our present welfare culture? I believe so. When you concentrate your most deprived in a single building, you are inevitably going to create tensions. Now I appreciate that the full extent of the developing drugs epidemic through the sixties/seventies couldn't have been accurately predicted in the forties nor would the corresponding economic collapse have been foreseen. But even the most optimistic of those in such optimistic times must have given thought to problems of gangs, vandalism etc and designed around that. They didn't and that was and remains an unforgiveable failing,

Modernism
I have a problem with the whole modernist bandwagon that took off through the fifties and sixties, to have every architect and planner working to the same dogma, to a man working from the same principles... that's got to be worrying. Clearly every era has its signature and that's to be admired, but you need criticism for healthy innovation. Where were the dissenting voices? Everyone just keeled over and accepted the prevailing orthodoxy.


------------------

As for the present situation, I do believe that architects and planners have transformed their profession over the past twenty years. No longer are they subservient to the state, shackled by ideology. Small indigenous practices are springing up good work is being done. I think this transformation will take time to feed into the public consciousness though, the trauma's of the past are still too raw, visible, personal and recent to be quickly or easily forgotten (and nor should they be).

Recent development has been small scale, a new build here an incision there a glimpse from the corner of the eye. It won't be till we begin to build our own quality large scale projects that the public's imagination can be caught. Today in 2005 the average Glaswegian doesn't know what a good quality tower looks like. They'll be awed by trips to the ESB or Chrysler, but regard them as foreign/alien. We've created an inferiority complex for ourselves that can only be broken by action. When the scaffolding is peeled off Elphinstone, Glasgow Harbour phase 2 who knows maybe even Cheapside we wont be looking at new towers. We'll be looking at a different city, a changed city, a new Glasgow with a new psyche. A Glasgow as radically altered as the one of the sixties, this time we might just get it right.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 07:25 AM   #10
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Because 99% of them in Britain before the 90s are god damn bleedin' ugly.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 12:14 PM   #11
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yeah and since the nineties, it's sitting at around 98%.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #12
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It's striking how the various excellent postings on this have mostly sought to place the 'High Rise' in a wider context re, Bingo Banjo on the British need for scapegoats, gweilo on procurement and investment realities, space_invader on... what was he on? The most discursive and expansive was gleegieboy's and that means of course it's most prone to carping and qualifying - of which I will now do my bit. But first I have to acknowledge it was a masteful stab at contextualising the whole issue.

As for qualifications: Perhaps the concept of 'Clearances' is too simplistic; the politicians were following a huge groundswell of populist 'something must be' growing since the 1920s at least. I can recall growing in a post war clearances Glasgow where the neighbours were all looking forward and 'waitin fur ma new hoose'. One of the reasons for the end of the old Progressives Party in Glasgow was that they were quite open and honest about not being wedded to the mantra of large scale public housing building of the type that was being produced. I suggest the comparison with the Highland 'Clearances' is fitting - because that too is a distinctly skewed interpretation of Scottish history; now being seriously questioned by the revisionists (what - many Highlanders and Islanders showed enterprise and voted with their feet to get out of subsistence poverty and leave the land!... oh no we cannae hive that kind of talk! naw, naw they wir awe victims!)

Clearances Mx11 The stock transfer ballot was well manipulated long before and then during the ballot; hence the huge majority in favour. The Council over the preceeding 2 to 3 years gradually had denuded funding and resourcing of the legitimate tenants' representative networks. All that was left by the ballot was a frankly risible rump of under-resourced and mis-targeting individuals who were incapable of any truly representative action. Moreover, the tenants at the ballot were presented with one choice "you either vote for transfer and all the promised benefits or you get stuck with your crappy housing and rising rents for the entire future". That is factual; I interviewed several politicians and senior staff in the city and the Executive for journals at the time, and when asked what is plan B if the ballot fails? they all replied there is no plan B -there is no need for an alternative- funny how they all knew that.

Meantime the Council Housing staff got to know of the generous salaries and benefits they would enjoy in the long-tern in the Housing Association world and decided to drop their opposition and run with the money (but the're kicking themselves now). The Neighbourhood Forums were the bodies charged (and funded) with the job of scrutinising the transfer proposals for veracity and sustainability. Then they were offered the option of converting themselves into Local Hosuing Organisations that would get to manage the stock on an agency basis for the GHA... only of course if the ballot went in favour. Hey Presto! the Forums decided that was for them and overwhelmingly started to promote the transfer in all but name and accountable openess (It was suggested to me that if there had been a credible tenants movement still in place they might have been able to have raised an action for Judicial Review on this). Anyway that's enough on that for now.

Siting I think I'm agreeing rather than carping on this. There was some sort of grandstanding politics going on. The Council were aware in the 50s of the Scottish Office wish to 'empty' Glasgow. The race for High Rise was one way the Council saw as retaining (trapping) the population alongside the already sprawling perimeter schemes. It was a rolling disaster inthat the Scottish Office went ahead with the New Towns and emptied much of Glasgow's population anyway. One result was acceleration of the decline of the Glasgow economy as mentioned by gweilo.

Financing with free money from Central Govt (of all parties; it was the Tories under MacMillan who really got the giant scale public house building programme under way). Well yes but, back in Glasgow the Councillors went for dirt cheap rents along with the dirt cheap standards of building. There was nothing 'hidden' about this unsustainable policy... it was just old style municipal politics with an attitide of 'central govt and the taxpayer will have to pay to make it all better in the end anyway - tough on the working class meantime'.

Non-subservient Architects? I don't buy that for a minute. The non-subservient ones are marginal, as they always have been. The only thing that's changed is that public money for the giant schemes are not there. Small scale is not an answer to everything- some of the much-vaunted housing associations have produced boring nasty 'small' schemes; sometimes in locations that we should no longer be building houses in. Worryingly, there is now a retro trend in England based on psuedo market theory. This entails the wholesale clearance of run down residential areas that are categorised as 'unlettable' or 'unacceptable for modern needs' and that must be cleared and transformed (sounds familiar?). Architecs are jsut as much in the vanguard of this retro disaster as they were in the old public housing programmes.

All-in-all, despite my carping, I agree with gleegieboy's overall view that the High Rise thing is all more to do with Glasgow's traumatic recent history... and it's not the only city in that position.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 06:34 PM   #13
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Low-life will still be low-life regardless of where it lives.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 07:26 PM   #14
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my thoughts above are a response to walking through stirlingfaulds@laurieston every day for the past 2 and half years - the nearest high rise to me and a good example of why people hate highrise in general. And there are many sad stories associated with the two blocks.

There really was someone kept within and tortured over a lengthy period before being ejected out the window. There really are gangs of drunken drugged up youths who squat some of the flats. And the junkie/flex anecdote?: inspired by what i saw one day in nearby kwik save: a three year old guiding his mum and dad round a supermarket, looking out for them and collecting all the food while mum and dad grunted and blinked occasiionally. Seriously.

The sacrifical pensioner routine was obviosly based on the events which took place during the construction of Malcom Fraser's poetry centre - a horrid affair!

Stirlingfaulds is staggeringly badly designed as is the surrounding landscape. For a brief moment i wondered: did the designers actually want it this way?

It may be a fictional response - but its still a rational response to the initial posit.

@Gleegie:

architects follow money. as esco sez above, the state is no longer the client it once was.

Also your modernism comment, while interesting in relation to 50s/60s architects, it could equally be applied to today's architects. I see very little variation in design or aesthetic approach to the vast majority of newbuilds in Scotland. And the problem for me is that any ideology associated with the scheme usually feels tacked on, retrofitted.

again - you want to blame designers for not designing around gangs and vandals? I'm glad they didn't to be honest. Today's culture of control and excessive safety (characterised by ungainly perimiter fencing at the edges of crossing points in the city and the wealth of cctvs) has seriously hindered the development of pleasant environments for us all to share. Perhaps I'll concede that some designs of housing in post war years actively encouraged anti-social behaviour.

However we should not be designing environments that place prevention of anti-social behaviour at the top of the brief.

not sure about yer comments re garden city importation from england. Gweilo, second opinion?

And deck access for greek thompson? issue was not aesthetics, issue was this: deck access has indoor toilets. greek thompson did not. (well, he personally probably had about three indoor toilets but ye ken whit ah mean) Also, the ideas were not really an english one - more a dilution of the emerging international approach that had sprung from European-seeded modernism.

@Escotregen: why did you ask?

You seem to know already . . . .

Man - we are the best city in the ****** world you lot!
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Old June 14th, 2005, 08:16 PM   #15
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Not being able to experience first hand the era I am trying to describe places me, naturally, at a disadvantage. As no votes were cast (rigged or other), the precise condition of the public mood is difficult to put. I don't question an initial enthusiasm in the forties, but with bulldozers moving in and the blocks starting to rise public opinion was only going one way. Certainly upon achieving their new home's complete with kitchen, bathroom etc all for "free" anybody would be ecstatic. But from heady optimism of the forties, to abject ruin in the seventies... you don't need me to join the dots. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said "Something had to be done". Clearly Something did have to be done, it is surely however an illogical leap to jump from Something has to be done to We must have comprehensive redevelopment! I don't know who the Progressive party were, but it was surely a failure on their part to forcefully put their own alternative plans. To give people an alternative ie yes build new towers but less and better of them whilst refurbishing the better of the existing stock. If a sane and rational alternative had been offered, people would surely have warmed to it? I do actually agree with the revisionists on the Clearances, I think the fundamental difference though is that the Highlanders bettered themselves, Glaswegian evictees did not. This in spite of the fact that the Highlanders had absolutely nothing and the Glaswegians were given everything on a plate. Or is that because of?

I don't doubt that government did all in it's power to get the result it wanted. I agree with those aims, but the methods have provided an open goal for Rosie Kane and the rest. Moreover it was unnecessary, an open election would have wielded the same reult. There have been no large scale demonstrations, no rebellions, no groundswell of public opinion. Just minority interests here and there. Could it be the NO camp lost because they lost the argument? Help ma boab! The council housing staff can like it or lump it, they do what they're paid to do.

I have heard this many times before, that is that central government regarded Glasgow as too powerful and a deliberate strategy was concocted to strangle and dismember it. Am I alone in finding that criminal? In a competitive global economy we dismantled our strongest assets because... they were too good.

I feel strongly about this so am prepared to use strong language. If we can agree that the schemes were wrong, then everyone who was a party to that has to shoulder the blame. This includes architects.

When you have badly lit underpasses, blank walls, narrow passages, blind spots, you create a breeding ground of crime. That's just common sense (or should have been). I don't see what the issue is with CCTV. Tenement districts had lower crime rates because you had nowhere to run or hide, 4 storey walls of human CCTV cameras up and down the street. Gated communities, obtrusive and obstructive fencing walls are an issue though. These are syptoms of failed design though, not good design in and of themselves.

If you look at the inter war suburbs they are clearly modelled on the English style of cottage housing, garden front and back. My point was we aped these designs and didn't come up with our own solution for our own problems.

I don't understand the toilet hypothesis.
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Old June 14th, 2005, 11:15 PM   #16
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gleegieboy you're right about there being no automatic link between 'Something had to be done' and 'What was done' i.e. Comprehensive Redevelopment... mind you it was even worse because through much of the 50s and 60s for inner Glasgow it was Comprehensive demolition full stop. I'm supposed to be a rationalist so I have to accept your point about surely the people would have opted for a better alternative if it had been offered. The point being of course that in most UK cities, but especially Glasgow, the dominant political party had no ambition or interest in offering a better alternative.

The Progressive Party was an interesting phase in Glasgow's political history. Many would describe them as simply rebranded Tories who realised that Tories in post WW2 Glasgow just weren't getting elected. I think in fairness they did try hard. One little-known fact is that when they were in power in the early 1950s they actually instigated a policy whereby houses in the Merylee housing scheme (then being built) were offered for sale rather than rent. It proved popular with buyers. However, the Glasgow electorate (who we are both trying to assume would opt for 'better alternatives') were easily persuaded that the Merylee initiative was warning of the great dangers if you voted Progressive and the rest was... well, history.

On the stock transfer I don't see that the NO campaign 'lost the argument' because there was no argument - just a very expensive and professional run pro-transfer promotional campaign supported at arms length by the Council and funded from the Scottish Executive. There was no effective articulation of any alternative voice; just a few silly-in-a-valiant-way incidents.

space_invader I thought your depiction was good and not at all far removed from some of the real life scenarios. However, I think I could maybe have had a stab at an equal depiction of some gilded little High Rise corners where residents do seem to live in a 'real community in the sky' and do human wee things like put carpets down in the corridors. As for me seeming to already know, so why did I ask the question? Ok you rumbled me, I did think that most Glaswegians have an intense dislike of High Rise... I just wanted to find out if this is the experience of others... it's a fair cop gov I was making presumptions about peoples' presumptions
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Old June 15th, 2005, 04:06 AM   #17
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Old June 15th, 2005, 01:36 PM   #18
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For the record - I believe high rise living can be suitable, comfortable, desirable.

Gleegie - deck access toilets thompson - I got mixed up - I thought you were drawing a distinction between modernist flats and the tenement flats that they replaced. Sorry!

Esco - I'm glad you did ask.

Anyway, t'other day, walking past Safeway, Anniesland Cross and a lovely wee lady, blue rinse and a shopping trolley full of Mr. Kiplings cakes (bakewell slices dominating the mix) stopped me, her brolley poking into my chest.

“Son, son,” she said, “won’t ye come wi me for a while - I’m havin a bonnie wee party on the top floor o yon tower! You can call me Annie by the way.”

What could i do apart from . . . go to the party. Always liked the building - from the outside anyway.

The tiny lady led the way. The route is unimportant. The destination is all.

Top floor. A carpeted hall welcomes us both. Scented wallpaper (summer fruits?) tickles my nosebuds. A stunning chandelier hangs in the middle of the corridor. Made from salt and handcrafted by the old polish guy on level 7, it tinkles and glitters.

“We like to make an effort, brighten the place up a bit” said the old senga doll gripping my hand, the chandelier’s hypnotic chime accompanying her soothing words. She’s such a lovely old thing you know!

Shit! I trip over a rubber plant and spill earth on to the carpet - on closer inspection i realise it’s a real beauty - the carpet that is - hand woven, probably sixteenth century, and hailing from the holy city of Isfahan, now in present day Iran.

“Aye son” said the old doll. “You’d be right tae think that’s a wee bit special. Safavid Dynasty so it is. But dinnae fuss with the soil - nae harm done.”

I smell home-cooking. I can hear music in the background. but it sounds like . . . Metallica?

We’ve arrived.

The door frame into annie’s flat is exquisitely carved. Scenes of human joy (children clasping lambs to their breasts, little boys and girls skipping alongside their parents, a family picnic, Joe Jordan’s toothless smile after scoring a crucial goal for Scotland - you know the kind of thing) But then so are all the door frames on this floor. They really have made an effort here, you think to yourself.

“That wis wee jeanie the daftie who carved yon frame, son. She’s blind by the way.”

I’ll believe anything now. This place is rather amazing. On entering Annie's flat, packed full with her pals and neighbours - “Hello son - take a seat!” - I notice the ceiling has been beautifully plastered. Layers express its surface, a topsy-turvy landscape, gentle crests and curves, like icing on a cake, like the smoothest sand on the whitest of beaches -- but upside down. Then I remember - I saw a ceiling like this in Barcelona - one of Gaudi’s numbers.

“Aye. You’re no wrang. Gaudi wis the inspiration” Annie pipes, as if reading my mind. “Bakewell slice?”

I take the cake and look around. Place is packed full of treasure and full of oldies and I’m sick of ‘wee annie’ now. I’ve had my cake and eaten it and now it’s time tae get busy.

I casually pull out my blade and hold it to Annie's chops. I tell her to clear the room and sort a suitcase for the loot I’m going to grab. “Son, son, whit’re ye daein! dinnae be daft! You don’t know whit ye’ve goat yersel intae!”

A grey wall of flesh encircles me. They may be in their 80’s but these punters look more than a bit menacing. Metallica's thunderous roar is now thew soundtrack to events, the gentle tinkle of the salt chandeliers just a distant dream-like memory. That bakewell slice tasted . . . ....funny. My head spins.

I drop my knife and Annie steps back and then forward again: “So son, you were gonnae pure slash me tae ribbons and an steal ma joe jordan door frame weren’t ye, ya wee scum baw!?!?!?” she spits.

“Annie - yer a smart cookie alright!” is what I say. What else could I say?

She grab the ceremonial samurai sword that hangs from the wall behind me. I am forced to kneel down as Annie wields the antique killing device which moments before had been no more than a beautiful compliment to the room’s decor.

I await my fate.

Metallica is bursting my ear drums. Annie’s about to chop ma head off. But then:

“Son - get oot o here. yer a wee fanny. Yer no even worth it.”

“AN YE KNOW **** AW ABOOT HIGH RISES!”

At this comment all the old yins burst into laughter, and i realise i really do know **** all about high rise living.

Well apart from what I’ve read in Trainspotting, anyway.

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Old June 15th, 2005, 02:46 PM   #19
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Awesome, S.I.

Awesome. You wrote that yourself? Or is it straight from the Trainspotting Novel?

This is by far the most intelligible thread I have read on Skyscrapercity so far. I just wish I was clever enough to put something worthwhile into the discussion myself....
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Old June 15th, 2005, 03:47 PM   #20
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S_I see that's one of those wee Communities in the Sky I was talking about... I think that one was in Collina Street
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