THEY REQUIRE CLIENTS BUOYED WITH PUBLIC MONEY AND BEYOND REPROACH
When Tate Modern opened its doors Jonathan Glancey described the contrasting fortunes of the power stations at Bankside and Battersea as emblematic of British politics. The former's triumphant resuscitation was the ultimate symbol of New Labour's cultural enlightenment, while the latter's steady decay was symptomatic of the philistine sterility of the Thatcher years.
Portraying New Labour as a champion of the arts now seems as quaintly nostalgic as the photograph of Thatcher driving a JCB round Battersea Power Station in an endorsement of Sir John Broome's plans to turn Gilbert Scott's masterpiece into London's own Alton Towers.
Yet Glancey's analogy remains partially true.
Still derelict, Battersea Power Station - like St Peter's Seminary at Cardross (pages 27-41) - stands as a defiant reminder of the limitations of market economics. Buildings such as these prove resistant to change not only because of their size, but because of their popularity. In 1939, the AJ polled celebrities about their favourite buildings.
Battersea came second. Its popularity has only increased. Cardross was recently voted the building that architects would most like to see restored.
The watchfulness of these buildings' devotees guards against the quiet acts of architectural vandalism which ease the transition from Brutalist masterpiece to capitalist cash cow.
They require clients who are deemed beyond reproach, buoyed with public money and armed with a moral mandate to introduce change.
While it's hard to identify such a client for Cardross, there is a clear precedent for the regeneration of a large power station on the banks of the Thames. Sadly the association between the Tate and Scott's architecture is so strong it is hard to imagine any other cultural institution showing an interest in Battersea. And the Tate is far too busy desecrating its own Scott masterpiece with a deconstructed pyramid.