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Chris Stewart

Collective Architecture's Chris Stewart discusses his overlapping roles as architect and member of the Scottish Ecological Design Association in promoting green design to a wider audience.

Fortnightly Blog 3

June 29th, 2013

Lamenting childhood holidays on the Firth of Clyde with the intrepid Phileas McLachlan, we realised how green these were. I will spend this Glasgow Fair in Rothesay, a synonym for wet and cold, and another in a series of vacations spent in holiday homes, tents and caravans, Memories shine brighter than the reality and Phileas reminded me of MacDiarmid's term the 'yow trummle' when sheep shorn in late July feel the cold, she will not put me off.

One green reason to holiday on the Firth of Clyde is just how great is the public transport. I once timed my journey from Glasgow's West End to Rothesay Harbour, it took just one hour and 28 minutes. This was carried out entirely by public transport, a subway from Kelvinbridge, a train to Wemyss Bay and a Cal Mac doon the water. This made Phileas laugh as it reminded her of 'Trains, Planes and Automobiles', I was able to join the joke and inform her about a teen romance film I enjoyed recently titled 'Angus, Thongs and Snogging'. Phileas hails from the Isle of Bute so is more used to the journey in reverse and made it clear that a one hour, 28 minute trip to buy new shoes and a camping stove is not very green. Phileas knows what she is talking about having shopped in Peru, Papa New Guinea, Portugal and was once spotted buying a round of drinks in the Merchant City, but that apparantly is a myth.

One round I did enjoy was last night served up at the June SEDA Green Drinks by ecological engineer Matthew Petticrew. A fascinating insight into an enquiring mind and how to think 'More for Less'. For example as concrete grows older it grows stronger, Matthew is busy building extra storeys on well aged structures as an answer to our building shortage or he is figuring out how to test high tension glass staircases with a fork lift. SEDA Green Drinks were again hosted at the New Glasgow Society Gallery which I am glad to say is still full of massive carved stones salvaged from Glasgow Green Railway Station.

Right now I climb aboard the 08.55 morning train from Glasgow Central Railway Station and head for the extraordinary Wemyss Bay Railway Station modelled with it's vast tunnels leading from platform to pier to herd the holiday crowds onto their ferry. Phileas unfortunateely could not manage along and on her behalf I have to pitch her brilliant ideas for a Rothesay Lighting Festival, inspired by the 1930s when folk crammed on paddle steamers to oggle the lights of Clyde resorts, one estimate put the crowds at 10,000 daily.

I saunter on to the Cal Mac ferry and less than an hour from leaving Glasgow I feel on an adventure. The adventure is further heightened by a school of porpoises dancing just of the prow followed by a basking shark tracked by five oyster catchers. The ferry arrives in Rothesay and for all that I love about the place there is always a whiff of decay, it never quite regenerates, to compound this I bump into some architects trying to save a listed hotel tottering on the edge of collapse, roofless and plagued with seagulls, I wished them well.

Meeting over and the 'Amazing Phileas McLachlan's Extraordinary Rothesay Lighting Festival' moves a step nearer to being switched on and I start the reverse trip. Journeys back all ways seem longer but I will return in a fortnight when Blog 4 will be posted, weather depending.

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