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Bring the house down
April 3, 2014 10:02 AM   Subscribe

The Red Road flats have been a feature of the Glasgow skyline for 50 years and inspired an award winning film. They will make their final contribution to posterity on 23 July when they will be blown-up as part of the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
posted by Jakey (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I found this idea surprisingly horrifying when I saw it on the news earlier, yet I can't articulate why at all even though I've been thinking about it all afternoon.
posted by dng at 10:05 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


So, this is supposed to blow up in their face?
posted by Gyan at 10:07 AM on April 3


I'd be interested to hear from anyone in the know about where/whether people were rehoused and whether the privatization of the flats (in 2002 - well before they were knocked down) affected anything. In the US, at least, when social housing is destroyed it is pretty much never rebuilt and people are just pushed out to scratch for themselves. Everyone is always "ooh, it's just a slum in the sky, let's knock it down" and then they're astonished when all those people can't magically afford decent housing and there's increase in homelessness, overcrowding, graymarket apartments, etc.
posted by Frowner at 10:12 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Take THAT, Bejing!
posted by Optamystic at 10:25 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


dng: I found this idea surprisingly horrifying when I saw it on the news earlier, yet I can't articulate why at all even though I've been thinking about it all afternoon.

Yeah, I agree, and I'm not sure why either.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:29 AM on April 3


ms scruss and I have fond memories of "Little Kosova", when she worked with the refugees housed there back in the early 2000s. Interesting people, and having a hard time fitting in with the surroundings, culture (Albanian-Scots code mixing ftw!) and general PTSD.

I'm not sure I can handle the idea of this place being blown up, Idiocracy-style, as a public spectacle.
posted by scruss at 10:31 AM on April 3


(from the people of many places around the world) THANKS, LE CORBUSIER
posted by barnacles at 10:32 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Good riddance to the Red Road flats. They've been a site for much misery and social deprivation. The last remaining tower blocks turned into social housing for asylum seekers and have been known as the suicide blocks with desperate asylum seekers throwing themselves off.. I rather like the idea of the end of the Red Road flats being the beginning of the Commonwealth Games. It is a strong signal they've decided to send.
posted by kariebookish at 10:40 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I thought the flats were taken out of use - except for, you know, foreigners - because, among other things, they were full of asbestos. The asbestos was so widespread that they were said to have clad the buildings in panels rather remove it (wikilink). And now they are going to just blow them up?
posted by epo at 12:16 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


A lot of the arguments i see are that this is the only thing that is happening in the North side of Glasgow to do with the Games. The road race passes through briefly.

The East End needed redevelopment and money spent but so does the North side , lets define that as north of the M8 and the canal to mark it out .

They could dismantle the Gallowgate Twins right next to the opening ceremony but the Council have opted to disrupt the Red Road area. The residents of the remaining block will be standing in the street, a safe distance away from their homes, while the opening ceremony is going on some distance away.

They could have done something like put the bowling in Balornock at the existing club with sufficient area to expand . That would have been within sight of the Red Road. Instead it was put in the West End which also allows them to renovate more of that area along with other features of Kelvingrove park.
posted by stuartmm at 12:51 PM on April 3


They should set it to the jeely piece song (2, 3)
posted by yoHighness at 1:31 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]


Oh, I know what would be really cool! Maybe they could bring them down by flying a couple of old, junk airliners into them!

oy
posted by Naberius at 1:37 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


Frowner: I'd be interested to hear from anyone in the know about where/whether people were rehoused and whether the privatization of the flats (in 2002 - well before they were knocked down) affected anything. In the US, at least, when social housing is destroyed it is pretty much never rebuilt and people are just pushed out to scratch for themselves.

Although Glasgow Housing Association is a private operation, it is, like other Housing Associations in the UK, a not-for-profit entity. This isn't entirely unproblematic for a number of reasons, but they are bound by a much stricter code of behaviour than your average private landlord. Anyone who formerly lived in the Red Road flats would have been rehoused in other GHA properties, as this would have been a requirement GHA would have to abide by; they can't/couldn't simply say "well, we're private now, so fuck you!"

On a purely selfish basis I'll really miss the Red Road flats, as they were always my indication that I was finally back in Glasgow when coming into town on the M80. You'd see them on the horizon, you'd go under that red and grey railway bridge as you round that left hand bend, you'd see the Provanmill gas towers on your right hand side, and then you'd join the M8, which would take you home. (Not that I live in Glasgow anymore.)

Oh, and for anyone who hasn't seen Red Road then you need to watch it.
posted by Len at 2:15 PM on April 3


A true Scot would just down some buckfast and then punch it untill it collapsed. No need for explosives.
posted by srboisvert at 3:32 PM on April 3


I'm not sure I can handle the idea of this place being blown up, Idiocracy-style, as a public spectacle.

This, and speaking as someone who's never even heard of these buildings before and has no sentimental attachment to them - I'm tempted to say it seems "off-message," to use PR-speak, but obscenely so, like launching your presidential campaign on the occasion of a public hanging.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:32 PM on April 3 [1 favorite]


I think it all depends on what they replace the towers with. The consensus seems to be that the "tower blocks" that were built as part of the "urban renewal" movement of the 50's and 60's - a movement that was as much about social engineering as it was about providing housing - was a failure. In my hometown of Victoria, BC, there is one tower block (we were pretty late adopting the movement) that is indeed a magnet for crime. But, then again, the tower block provides a massive amount of low-cost housing right in the very heart of the city.

The pity of tower blocks and the urban renewal movement was they basically destroyed pre-existing communities in favour of rationalized, sanitized, paved surfaces.

If by blowing up these tower blocks community is somehow nurtured and fostered, it would be a good thing.

Kind of strange to make this the centerpiece of the Commonwealth Games, but then again the Commonwealth Games can be pretty strange.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:12 AM on April 4


barnacles, I'm there with you. Le Corbusier was a twisted, criminal, fascist mind. Unfortunately, communist countries embraced his dehumanized pure architecture and to this day thousands of 70's blocks of flats soil the citylines all over Eastern Europe. I lived in one and I know there are people who I guess kind of don't mind living there but that does not make it any less of a prison.
posted by Laotic at 3:04 AM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Someone pointed out to me today that it's something that may make sense on a local scale but will be deeply, deeply baffling to all non-locals. And there will be plenty of non-locals watching.. I am slowly changing my stance on this.
posted by kariebookish at 3:48 AM on April 4


Rip it up and start again - Glasgow's addiction to destruction

What the fuck were they thinking? GCC enter the twilight zone

Red Road demolition misses mark

And I'm not sure whether STV's player works elsewhere, but last night's Scotland Tonight on the demolition with Gordon Matheson (leader of Glasgow City Council), Robert Florence and Mitch Miller was good. (The Springburn Park Winter Gardens Robert Florence talks about are beautiful and criminally neglected - the Council have put a bit of money into them recently but nowhere near enough to actually restore them, and it doesn't sound like Matheson's making any plans. Springburn Public Halls were demolished recently, very suddenly and over Christmas in a way which was not well received by a lot of people.)
posted by Catseye at 4:47 AM on April 4 [2 favorites]


As a follow up to Catseye here is an image of Glasgows five Winter Gardens. Guess which one is in Springburn ? facebook link.
I also know Mitch and he has a few large scale drawings about the Red Road flats on his website and other sites
posted by stuartmm at 7:03 AM on April 4


It seems that, partly through Robert Florence's actions, the demolition is off: Glasgow 2014: Red Road flats demolition dropped from opening.

He's a living national treasure. Robert Florence: previously, previouslier.
posted by scruss at 7:27 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


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