Robert Wakeham's Comments
Let's hope that good design can prevail - but only the people of Glasgow can 'clean the stables' of cynical, self-serving politicians. Glasgow deserves miles better.
Comment on: What a week for Glasgow
21% of city centre shops empty, but meanwhile plans to double the size of the city centre Buchanan Galleries retail centre are forging ahead, including the provision of 1700 parking spaces and £80m of 'public realm improvements' funded by the city council, who see the project as a key to regeneration in this area of the city centre. Meanwhile, the 'public realm' in other areas of the city centre - some already the subject of past improvement - is left to degenerate. It just doesn't add up.
In favouring Entry 6 the disreputable Mr Matheson showed scant regard for the historic qualities of George Square, let alone for the informed opinions and advice of the distinguished jury. Perhaps his greatest contempt is for the people of Glasgow.
Perhaps, before any more moves to start tinkering with George Square, it might be a good idea to repair the damage caused by gross neglect - and botched reinstatement after street excavations - of all the fine Caithness flag and Brazilian granite paving in the city centre. This was installed, with great fanfare, in a makeover associated with the 'City of Culture' and previous 'Glasgow's miles better' initiatives. There is also the question of the extensive city centre pavements that never 'got the treatment' and are spectacularly neglected, as well as the quite astonishingly squalid back streets in the city centre. And the more recent installation of pavement-blocking advertising panels further indicates a very real lack of civic integrity in favour of superficial gesture. 'Public participation' will require wholesale reform of the city council, if it is to have any meaning.
Surely the arched structure depicted in Entry 4 - apparently of considerable size and mass - would be far too prominent and over-scale in the setting of the square? But this is a minor point in the context of the sheer awfulness of the recent government of the city of Glasgow, and this bungled competition is just one aspect of the problem.
At the time of the 'miles better' and 'city of culture' campaigns some (but far from all) of the city centre streetscape was overhauled, with prominent use of fine Caithness flags and Brazilian granite setts. There has been considerable wear and tear, with flags left damaged and broken by vehicles and cack-handed 'restoration' of areas after excavation. No sign of reasonable care in maintenance. Some of the central streets - let alone the spectacularly sleazy back alleys - were never given the 'treatment'. More recently large advertising panels have been installed on many pavements, obstructing pedestrian movement and creating hazards for the disabled, blind and infirm. Meanwhile the city council has been led by people who've proved themselves devoid of integrity. 'All fur coat and no knickers' could be a fit description - and it's a rat-eaten fur coat.
The history of this - and the previous competition - just reinforces the impression created by the historic whiff of cronyism and corruption in this council, that the citizens of Glasgow deserve far better.
'Engineering hub' sounds suspiciously like 'engineering ghetto' - since when has architecture (in the developed world) been classified as engineering, and is it part of a university's function to encourage polarisation of disciplines? What sort of an investment programme actually degrades the quality of accommodation - investment in empire building?
Comment on: Niall McLaughlin scoops King’s Cross gold
Surely whoever's responsible for making this work structurally also deserves credit.
Comment on: RMJM's UK companies go under
I wonder what the 120 employees think, and whether the reported removal of computers from the London office by bailiffs has affected their work?
Comment on: vHH completes another nature reserve scheme
Am I alone in lamenting the days when practices - especially ones as good as this - were known by their real names (regardless of whether the founders still played an active part) rather than just by initials?
'Oligarchs rule' might seem excessively cynical, but hasn't this been true?
Off with her head! / Prison -The Tower / Botany Bay.
Comment on: Lego Games - the Olympic park in mini-bricks
Is it just me or does the Orbit bear a passing resemblance to someone's entrails? - no offence to Warren Elsmore, he seems to have done an excellent job of capturing the character of the Olympic structures.
Good for Angela - I wonder what would happen if the RIBA ran a members-only survey (with the widest possible publicity) to rank the Olympic buildings in order of merit? Hanging, drawing and quartering, or despatch to a slave labour camp to build the new airport on Rainham marshes?
And how does the architect propose that the floor is cleaned - an irrelevant detail?
Comment on: Sturgis unveils Reading tower plans
Comment on: Union Terrace Gardens faces new threat
Surely, if Peacock Arts and Brisac Gonzales are still prepared to deal with not just the new Aberdeen city council but also a local population that seems to be deeply divided, then the ideal outcome would be to resurrect what was clearly an excellent project. It's time for Sir Ian to swallow his pride, stop leading ACSEF by the snout, accept that Aberdeen's not some post-communist central Asian thug-state blowing its wealth on monuments to the great and the greedy, and put his very substantial reputation - and money if necessary - behind the proposals that promised to deliver much needed arts facilities while showing genuine respect for the character of the gardens. Proposals that won the original competition, and the vote of the people. If Sir Ian has been persuaded that the key to reviving the truly crummy state of Union Street is the replacement of Union Terrace Gardens by a fragmented building of sub-Hadid style (sorry Zaha, no insult intended) that has only its stone in common with its setting, he's been had. For my money the key to the problems in the city centre are traffic management - you've only got to walk up from the station into the city centre to see how traffic engineering in decades gone by has shown scant regard for the quality of life in the city, and if Sir Ian wants a really effective legacy he could promote an international ideas competition to sort out the traffic and bring back the quality of urban life that the centre so desperately needs.
'Thrown out by the planners' - no, thrown out by the councillors, and the Ministry of Sound seem to have the same power to impose a 'cordon sanitaire' that is historically associated with the Ministry of Defence's attitude to development near dangerous munitions storage sites. Perhaps the Ministry of Sound should relocate to an industrial estate where they'll disturb no-one. Planning blight by an airport or NATO base is one thing, but by a nightclub?
Perhaps Mr Forrest could now turn his attention to the design of the close inshore 'offshore' windfarm planned for this stretch of coast, and currently giving Mr Trump apoplexy. May I suggest that the proposed clubhouse chimneys - reminiscent of the vent stacks on some of our more forbidding Victorian prisons - could inspire treating the wind towers as cotton mill chimneys, and adorning the turbine blades as traditional windmill sails; that should keep Mr Trump happy.
Reminds me both of a Victorian tram shed in Knightswood, Glasgow, and of one of those 'asylums' of old, tucked away in various corners of Scotland - except that the tram shed and asylums are architecture, and have substance, whereas this isn't, and doesn't.
Reproduction architecture has it's place - like reproduction furniture - but how on earth do you apply 'traditionalism' to Olympic venues? All I can think of is giant Roman amphitheatres, and I wonder if this is what TAG would like to see, or is it just that the athletes' village should be another Poundbury?
Don't I recollect previous proposals (for Maplin Sands, I think) being criticised for ignoring the greater risk of fog causing flight delays in the Thames estuary area, compared with Heathrow? - or have technological advances rendered this no longer a problem?
When the City Council held a referendum to ascertain the views of the people of Aberdeen, there was a majority vote in favour of retaining the gardens, so the council has apparently chosen to ignore this result. Such is democracy, in Aberdeen.