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Learning from Glas Vegas: The venue

Maybe it is raining But the spirit of the North can’t be dampened

You know how we’re all jealous of Mediterranean cultures because of the fantastic townscapes you find in that part of the world? The evening promenades? The easy urban living? The cafés, the sunsets, the piazzas … Great. But it’s even better here - though sometimes we forget. Let the South be jealous of the North this time. Let’s make them jealous of the fun we have within our own bold townscapes.

Yeah. Let’s make them jealous: of our crisp autumn nights and the comfort of looking out from warm indoors to the frosty streets outside; of the rosy glow on everyone’s faces, that look you get when you go from cold to hot …the fireplace crackling and popping; sparks from the logs and embers. Ahh yes. This is the north. It’s dark and cold - and we love it here.

Maybe it’s raining. It probably is. The pavements and roads are mirror-wet. You can see the traffic lights reflected on the tarmac, a stone-carved statue in a puddle. A taxi sign reflected in a misted window. Shop-front displays from the top of a bus, all fuzzy and bright, like Spielberg’s Close Encounters.It’s beautiful. It’s Northern. Ancient. Futuristic. Who needs la passeggiata?

This charrette is about modifying the urban landscape of Glasgow’s Merchant City and the Calton, with sensitive townscape design and lighting to create a night-time and winter landscape that is joyful, intriguing, magical, grand.

Maybe your ideas are seasonal, using lighting ideas and urban design that responds to the time of year.

Many years ago I wandered through the city of Glasgow, going home one evening, and was struck by what I saw in the ground: the glass blocks over the cellars on Sauchiehall Street, and elsewhere too, had been subtly changed. Some had lights fitted below, they changed colour, intensity, and throbbed to their own beat.Others had strange items within them - I remember some glass blocks had been replaced with resin-filled tubs encasing wasps - really! What the hell was that? Strange things, but it made the city sing … Glasgow was the place to be, why bother with anywhere else?

It’s all about looking, lingering, holding your attention and changing the way you see. Who needs warm summer nights, when you live in a winter wonderland?

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