Saturday, 21 September 2013

Glasgow Doors Open Day 2013

The Gallowgate Twins

2013 marks the 23rd year of the Glasgow Doors Open Weekend. I had heard about this project run by Glasgow Council for years but never visited any of the open buildings until last year.

As the name suggests, several buildings open their doors to the public including many that are not generally accessible to the public at other times of the year. This year, I was interested in visiting the Mosque and Glasgow's very own Twin Towers. Buildings many people have considered eyesores. They stand not far from Celtic Park and will be pulled down in 18 months. My main reason for visiting the towers was to see the view from this height - the towers are amongst the hghest of their type in Europe.

Celtic Park from Whitevale Tower

Whitevale and Bluevale towers are 40 years old and are destined to the same fate as other Glasgow tower blocks. The Red Road flats are currently being demolished and the disasterous Hutcheson Town blocks in the Gorbals came down years ago lasting only a couple of decades.

Waiting to go up to the towers with other visitors, it was interesting chatting to people. The discussion turned to social housing. Therte are very new homes near to the towers that have replaced slums that were also pulled down. These new "council houses" look fantastic. It's not always the houses though - it is sometimes the people who live in them. Whilst waiting there were the usual dogs barking non-stop and children bawling and shouting in their front gardens. Litter and beer cans strewn everywhere. People who have no respect for their environment should, in my opinion be held accountable -  but they are not. Since moving to Glasgow just over a decade ago I have watched the way certain people behave and the leniency of the way the council treat them.

One of my first experiences was seeing a crazed lady smash all her windows with a  golf club (this was near the towers I visited today) only to have the council re-glaze them for her only 2 hours later.

It's not all bad though and there are always good, sociable people in amongst the anti-social ones.

East End Geometry

It was interesting seeing the streets from a different perspective. They looked fanastic - the photo above is not a particularly "des res" area but I think it looked great from a different perspective.

The above shot shows the amount of green space in amongst all the housing but this is misleading as it will all be built on soon. There are lots of green spaces in glasgow though. It has fantastic parks and tI think that the parks are something Glasgow Council maintain really well.

The prominent white building in the shot above is The Bellgrove Hotel. It has been given a lick of paint for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and is a listed building as it is in art deco style. It houses homeless men. The Bellgrove gets a bad reputation , however, this is undeserved. There is a need for it and I lived for a while in the yellow coloured flats right behind it. There was rarely a problem from Bellgrove reidents. The people who live in the main spine of houses running up to it, Slatefield and Comelypark Street however are a different matter. I have never lived amongst such anti-social families in my life. I was glad to move out.

 Yours Truly enjoying the view.

Another "geometry shot"

The first  thing that struck me when I emerged on the 29th floor balcony was the "vertigo" feeling. It soon went away but it really was odd. The above shot is of the twin tower of Bluevale Tower, which is still inhabited (Whitevale is now empty).

Inside the flat itself, there were remnants of the people who lived there before. I wondered what it would have been like. The rooms were actually well proportioned. It was noticeably colder than at ground level and I think that if your neighbours were decent people, living in close proximity wouldn't have been all that bad. The view is certainly spectacular.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. It was interesting hearing the Glasgow Council guides laughing - they were bemused that the tours had sold out and that so many people had an interest in visiting high -rise flats.

I gave it one last look around as I was leaving and my eye caught a "geko" sculpted into the thick artex on the wall of the living room. Glasgow humour  :-)

You can read more about the towers here