Architecture in Scotland

15 Dec

The recently completed Transport Museum in Glasgow is pretty spectacular. It should be mind you since it was design by Zaha Hadid who is currently one of the leading architects in the world. This is one of two buildings, which she has designed in the UK. The other is a Maggies Centre in the grounds of the Victoria Hospital in Kircaldy.

Amazingly, we also have a Frank Gehry building in Scotland. This one is also a Maggies Centre and it’s within the grounds of Ninewells Hospital. Gehry is also one of the leading architects in the world. His Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa are astonishing.

These buildings are arresting. It needs a bit of time for you to fully comprehend the design. They are challenging.

In Glasgow we also have a world-renowned building, which comes out top of many polls about the worlds best buildings, for example the Best British Building of the last 175 years (RIBA Journal 2009). The Glasgow School of Art designed by CR MacKintosh. A true and rare gem. I try to go most years to the Degree Show because I like art but also because I never tire of wandering around the building. I marvel at the doors and the various fixtures and fittings, which are chipped and splashed with paint. I like to think that Mackintosh would be delighted at this. The building works so well and is used. Try not to dwell on the loss of an original door or glass panel however. Start thinking in terms of £250K financial loss and the priceless artistic loss.

During a brief period when I was working in Boise, Idaho in the USA a few years ago I went to an art show in a gallery in the main park in Boise. I walked around and looked at the work. I was taken with a piece I saw and asked one of the ladies on reception about it. She told me who it was by etc. and then asked where I was from due to my accent. I said Scotland and she asked if I knew of the Glasgow School of Art. I said I did and told her I went to the Degree Show every year.  She was almost emotional. She called one of her colleagues and they asked a million questions about what it was like to actually go inside etc. They were in aw of the Glasgow School of Art. Totally. One of the exhibitors was from Jaoan and she also expressed a wish to go to the GSA to study. It truly is revered throughout the art world.

Back to Scotland then and heading down the Clyde a bit you come to Helensburgh, which contains the Hillhouse. This is another jewel of a building complete interior with an interior also designed by MacKintosh. Stunning. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt took time out from filming the zombie film in Glasgow recently to visit Hillhouse. They knew all about it! The ladies bedroom is amazing. My wife and I considered booking Hillhouse for our wedding a few years ago. It would have been wonderful. The National Trust for Scotland was looking for £1000 +. We reconsidered without regret. We can visit it when we like although there maybe restrictions soon as they have found rot in the fabric of the building.

Of course there are more gems by MacKintosh around Glasgow and he even made it out of Glasgow to design a church interior in Bridge of Allan.

Also in Greenbank/Clarkston near Glasgow there’s Holmwood House. Again an amazing building this time designed by Alexander “Greek” Thomson. He was an established architect in Glasgow when MacKintosh was just starting off and in fact he offered a prize for the best young architect at one point and MacKintosh won it. The prize money allowed MacKintosh to travel abroad which had a significant and long lived effect on his buildings and furniture. Thomson also designed St Vincents Street Church in the centre of Glasgow.

We are lucky to have such amazing examples of architecture at it’s best.

Why then do we send our children to be educated in schools, which are for the most part dull, square boxes? Money. A school has to be designed and built to a price, which of course is the cheapest one possible.  A lot of the new schools in Scotland were actually built by a firm with a background in building prisons

It’s pretty well accepted that moving pupils to a brand new school has a positive impact on their academic performance and behaviour. Imagine then, what could be achieved if school buildings are inspiring?

As is the spirit at this time of year I’ll leave you with this and this.

1 Comment

Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Education, General


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