It seems to be an oddly UK phenomenon too.
I lived for a long time in Berlin. Despite the fact that Berlin is a proletarian and bankrupt city (which has much in common with Glasgow in many ways), it has some amazing building projects going on all the time. The new Hauptbanhof (Main Station) is a fantastic building -- not only architecturally attractive, but very utilitarian too -- it has a complete shopping centre inside it. There's dozens of other examples of public works being done there that are attractive, well-thought out, and likely to last generations.
They are also enlarging and expanding the (excellent) public transport system constantly -- and the transport system they have would be an excellent model for Glasgow to follow. I had a car there, but rarely drove, because the U-Bahn, S-Bahn or tram, was faster and cheaper.
It's not just Berlin too, I've lived in other countries, all poorer than the UK, Czech Republic, Argentina and others -- all of whom are doing great public work, and have greatly thought-out systems.
So the real question is what is it that is wrong with UK architects and Planning Committees? They have more money than most of their European counterparts -- and yet fail miserably in comparison. Glasgow has suffered greatly for a long time at their hands (Anderson Centre anyone?). They seem obsessed with bland, generic glass and steel and concrete structures, and the latest pointless must-have UK tourist-architecture (i.e. a curvy bridge, a tower, a big wheel, whatever -- the same old generic crap that every UK city wants.)
Why could Silverburn or Braehead not have had a spur of railway going to it, integral into its design? That way they would not have caused quite the same level of queues on the motorways that they currently do. A railway to Braehead could also be extended to the Airport. There's three parallel roads that run in the direction of Braehead from the general Govan area -- at least one of them could have been light rail or a tram line.
For that matter, why could the St Enoch's Centre not re-incorporate a station and reconnect all the empty track rotting away. Much of those routes are still useful and could really help alleviate traffic. (If they were really brave, the Council could actually base the design of that on Mackintosh's Railway Terminus plans, and really do something unique and special)
When you look at old photos and maps of Glasgow you realise that so, so much has been lost, that no-one in the Council seems to think of creating a lasting, useful and attractive legacy for the city. Union St and Renfield street must be the most polluted in the entire country, due to the buses running up them.
Everything seems to be done on the cheap. While certainly no-one wants another Scottish Parliament fiasco, and wants the council to spend our money wisely, that does not mean that we have to produce the cheapest possible crap for the lowest price (and likely hiring someone in the council's brother-in-law in the process). I'm certain that a well-thought out plan that is genuinely attractive and likely to last, is one that Glaswegians would be proud to pay a little extra for.
gap74 wrote:I'm also rapidly coming to the conclusion that very little that has been built in the last twenty years is of much merit - there's an Emperor's New Clothes aspect to it, where architects cry us all as ignorant if we criticise modern stuff, but there's no denying that a huge majority of it is just shit, both in terms of design and materials. I know we live in an age of value engineering, but have these people no desire to create something which is, you know, aesthetic for aesthetic's sake?
And I agree, hazy - I mourn the loss of a vernacular architecture.