Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Glasgow. The City Of Towers.

Its taken me a long while to formulate then put together this collection of photographs but finally I'm ready to post the idea I've had for many years. Recently one of my friends mentioned that just because I knew the full reason behind a throwaway phrase I've used in the past on the blog (The City Of Towers) didn't necessarily mean that everyone else would automatically know what it meant.
I assured him they would.
He assured me they would not.
' You're an obsessional nutter that sees the world differently from most other people.' He insisted. 'Not everyone shares your vision of what's around you, you know. Your barking mad ,but in a good way.'
After I'd shot two of his toes off for daring to criticise the Great and Powerful 'Me' I came to the startling conclusion he might well be right.

For years I've been toying with the idea of the ultimate photographic 'grand homage' to Glasgow's ring of mighty towers that dominate almost every view of Glasgow. No other city in the UK has embraced the concept of towers in the sky so fully.

All The photographs on this Post should be clicked full size to get a true appreciation of scale.

Where did this begin I hear you ask?
Stay with me and I will tell you I reply.
You see, I'm lucky enough to live in the shadow of a wonderful city of towers. With yet another modern film just released inspired by the Wizard of Oz lets go right back to the beginning...
Glasgow has always been inspired by Tall buildings and a European influence, Seen here to good effect in Park Circus, just above Kelvingrove Park. Very Italian. A city used to building large objects on an industrial scale. Ships, locomotives, components... buildings.
But then it was gripped by another influence coming out of Europe. The Cult of Modernism.
The Great Father of Modernism, as all my readers will undoubtedly already know, my limping, eight toed, little friend, was Le Corbusier who envisaged a future metropolis of towers rising into the air.
A vast interconnected machine  where citizens would  live, work, play, fight, and die together in a high rise environment which would provide everything for them, like cogs in a vast, smoothly operating, machine. Homes would be mere slots on the side of a giant building, stretching towards the sun, as prophesized in his visionary 1933 book 'The Radiant city.'

In no other city in Britain, maybe even in all of western Europe itself, did this grand vision establish itself so fully.
Sure other cities have hi rise towers, but most are concentrated inside the city centre itself not in a large outer ring scattered around the suburbs with green spaces between them exactly as he described them in that ground breaking tome..
Or as here, in Maryhill.

Maybe he himself was inspired by the 1927 Fritz Lang classic Metropolis. Or  just maybe, being Swiss then adopting France as his home, it was the shining towers of  free standing winter ice he undoubtedly would have seen on his travels that left an impression on him.
Dorothy had to leave rural Kansas in a flying house to find her Emerald City of high spires and wonder filled delights. The citizens of Glasgow are already living in one and generations of its children have grown up gazing out of one of these narrow slots in the sky.
What do you mean 'Its nothing like the Emerald City?' How can you say 'There isn't a giant balloon in Glasgow anywhere.?' My moaning, hopping friend.
 Da Dah! There is now.. The Hydro. Dorothy had Toto, I Have you, Two toes. (missing) Box ticked.
There. Does it look more like the Great Wizard's balloon now you  grumpy nitpicker! Satisfied. Box Ticked!
What do you mean Dorothy's city was full of primary colours and  hidden dangers: A land of good and evil characters and mysterious realms visited? Box Ticked.  Munchkinlanders. Actually the Firhill Polis.

What's that two toes? She left her own world behind her and entered a new one through a worm hole?
Easy. How's that?
What do you mean it was a twisty wormhole not a straight one? Want to lose any more toes?

                                                    There.Satisfied now. Box ticked!
'Christ on a crutch! Dorothy had a four legged window polisher, a timid scarecrow, a leaky tin arsehole and a cowardly lion for her friends and they weren't as troublesome put together as you are now you crabbit faced  hop along. What do you mean you want sometime stronger than paracetamol?'
Well, maybe you,re in luck. We might be in the right place here for medicines. The Possilpark back street chemist may be open for business.
Or... we could visit yet another temple of wonders to take your mind off things. Entertainment in Glasgow is also hi rise. You get a great view at night from the upper levels of this complex over half the city and that's before you even enter the cinema screen of choice.

Everywhere you look in Glasgow Le Corbusier's dream/nightmare of brutal modernism is alive and well. Only when the last one of these great leviathans topples into the streets below will we be free of this influential architects vision. One which transformed the  modern world we see around us today.
Like it or not one man can change the world as dramatically as the great wizard himself.
Call us legion, for we are many....We live in the Emerald City of Glasgow.
The Great and Powerful City of Towers.

Talking of free standing towers of winter ice this is a short but stunning film of just that. It should be watched full screen. A dazzling city of melting ice with tiny figures in the middle of it.
Breathtakingly beautiful. Did this inspire le Corbusier perhaps? Watched in HD this is amazing.

Just found a video that is a perfect explanation of the thinking behind the multi story approach. Its 18 minutes long but worth every second as it shows you a fantastic archive of Glasgow and its people and the construction of its districts after the second world war. If you live in Glasgow, East Kilbride or Cumbernauld or have done in the past you wont want to miss this. Five star film of a bygone era of optimism. Typical 'old style' commentary but it gets better with each minute passed. Wish I'd found it earlier.


Alistair said...

He's right you know Bob. City of Towers? Never heard of it but now I have, you can keep it! The photos are damn good though. Have you thought of publishing a photo book using Blurb?


Carol said...

I must say, your mates talk very highly of you! ;-)

I think that, if I lived in some of those tower blocks, I'd be a tower block coward too and wouldn't dare go near the windows!

I also have to say that the 'metropolis' vision horrifies me as I get depressed if I have to be in a built-up area more than a couple of days, beautiful as some of those buildings are. I like to visit places like Glasgow, York, Edinburgh and they are beautiful but I think it's just too many people at once for me. I enjoy being on my own a lot...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Alistair.
How's the haggis ranch going up there on the misty Isle? Are the wee puddin's putting on enough weight to make a profit these days?
How much do you trouser in a season if you include the bagpipe rearing nurseries? Are you still hand feeding them once they get their first set of teeth?
Thanks for the blurb info but I'm amazed you seem to prefer the frozen heights of Bla Bheinn to the warm welcome of a Glasgow tower block.
Up there you have spindrift and falling icicles raining down on you from above; here we have bodily fluids, real, soon to be deceased,cats and dogs and clapped out microwave ovens tumbling down like colourful confetti to splash pretty pictures on the ground below.
What's not to like? I love my Emerald City. Vive Le Difference!

The Glebe Blog said...

Full screen is a must Bob, some great shots. Is that you on top in the last picture ?
My first city of towers was in 1967/8 in Hong Kong, but they were mostly resettlement blocks for refugees from Mao's revolution. Bamboo scaffolding and a twenty storey block would be up in a week. The hotels took a bit longer.

I've been up a ladder all week painting my newly pebble dashed gable end. Your video clip has certainly put that in perspective.
Follow the yellow brick munchkins here, but I've got Munchie!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol
Did you manage to watch the cascade video
without getting some trepidation in your soul?

'I enjoy being on my own a lot...'
You should spend time inside the Conservative party offices in Glasgow then :) Problem solved.
Might have to clear the odd tumbleweed though, blocking the doors.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim
I knew you would spot that. Half the special effects I put into photos most folk don't even notice, including most of my mates.
I've seen the bamboo scaffolding first hand when I worked as an apprentice in a church near Queens Park. It had its own purpose built scaffolding made out of wooden tubes. Victorian I think. We used to use it to access the interior of the spire, before Health and safety kicked in. Scary stuff!

Robert Craig said...

Thanks for sharing! You would like a forum called Skyscraper City:

Two more scenes of Glasgow towers. They are pulling most of these towers down nowadays. It will be Green Clydeside some day.

auntiegwen said...

ooh I always wanted to live in a high rise when I was wee, never managed it :(

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Craig
I thought most of the Tower blocks were coming down as well but its only the hardest to let, run down ones that are going. Most of the others are getting a full face lift inside and out so they will be here for a while yet.
As a large percentage of Glasgow lives in them they will have to build entire new estates to re-house them all which is why they have had a financial rethink.

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Auntiegwen.
Over the years I've worked in most of the high flats in Glasgow. Its a fantastic view up there over the city, by day and by night. Great to see the planes fly in over the Knightswood tower blocks and the sunsets over the River Clyde From the Radnor Park multi storeys in Clydebank.

Carol said...

Hi Bob, yeah, I watched the video - I just thought they were nuts! But then I'm never really sure about ice-climbing anyway - I'd like to give it a go at somewhere like the indoor Kinlochleven Wall just to see what it's about but couldn't see me every doing it for real. To me, ice breaks off when you hit it!