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Why does Cummins need another plant?

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Travelling down from a favourite building, the Blackhill Transmitter Mast high above the Clyde Valley, a glimpse can be caught of the twin yellow chimneys of the Cummins Engine works at Shotts. Stripped out and mothballed as part of another rationalisation, and awaiting a purchaser for the last two years, in an area of continually high unemploymen, this award-winning building remains a model of enlightened architectural patronage and of legible industrial architecture.

Given this, Rab Bennetts' account (aj 9.7.98) of the new Cummins Factory in Kent and his observations on the transience of industrial architecture are particularly poignant. However, the underlying rigour which his building undoubtedly shares with that of Ahrends Burton & Koralek from 20 years ago has little relevance to the longevity, or otherwise, of the industrial process. Almost every attribute rightly ascribed to the Bennetts building is exemplified and in some methods of work prototyped in its predecessor. Yet Shotts is testimony to another process.

Enlightened industrial buildings designed to be flexible to product development are inherently capable of accommodating change. It seems an unforgivable waste of resources to have a workforce in waiting yet be constructing another. Central Scotland is not so far from the European marketplace or am I, in the rush toward devolution, missing the point?



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