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Pressure mounts on RIAS to intervene in Wyndford demolition debate

January 19 2023

Pressure mounts on RIAS to intervene in Wyndford demolition debate

Pressure is mounting to reassess proposals to demolish four tower blocks on Glasgow's Wyndford estate amidst a backlash from protesters and architects.

Tensions have risen on the estate with six people arrested for vandalism following the occupation of empty homes by members of the Young Communist League of Britain. This follows coordinated efforts by architects such as Kate McIntosh for landlord Wheatley Homes to reassess its plans.

Writing in the AJ today Malcolm Fraser adds his voice to such efforts with a call for greater value to be placed on embodied carbon, noting analysis conducted by opponents suggesting that 22,465 tonnes of CO2 would be emitted under demolition versus 12,098 through retrofitting.

Fraser wrote: "...we need to recognise our profession’s complicity in all this. Colleagues sometimes look askance at retrofit – ‘not proper architecture’ – for where’s the glory to be gained from humble retrofit, compared with a waste-and-spend cycle with its pontificating about style, green gizmos and good urbanism?"

These concerns found an echo in an open letter to the RIAS by Alan Dunlop, who observed: "These residents clearly believe its time to drop the demolition proposals and, like Cedar Court for GHA to propose a more progressive and enlightened approach.

"It's time for the architectural profession in Scotland also to speak up and join the debate. The silence of the RIAS, so far has been deafening."

Preparations for demolition continue to be made with a blow down expected in the Spring.


Wolfie Smith
#1 Posted by Wolfie Smith on 19 Jan 2023 at 12:50 PM
Interesting to see Alan Dunlop and Malcolm Fraser join the Young Communist League on the barricades...
Fat Bloke on Tour
#2 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 19 Jan 2023 at 13:53 PM
The issue here is primarily about opportunity cost and the size of the social housing sector followed by the asset management capabilities of the HA sector.

The current plan is to spend £60mill to demolish 600 existing units and replace them with new build 300 units -- which given the social housing shortage in Glesga would appear to be something of a backward step. Not good / not good at all.

Why isn't the focus on the ghost streets of the north and east of the city that desperately need to be re-populated and brought back into a useful existence rather than the green desert that they currently resemble today?

And then you have the HA sector wanting an easy life and a few ribbon cutting photo-ops. If the blocks have decayed to the point of abandonment then surely the HA sector needs to be held to account for this state of affairs -- public assets being wilfully neglected over the years to serve a not so hidden agenda of keeping the builders happy?

Institutionalised inefficiency and waste in the public / social sector is organised theft from the working classes and needs to be rooted out with a passion.

Given the lack of funds in the public sector after 13 years of austerity this is a monstrous ego trip and nothing else.
#3 Posted by David on 20 Jan 2023 at 10:06 AM
Why have architects and protestors not mobilised in this way in the past to stop Victorian buildings being demolished in Glasgow? The most recent high profile one that comes to mind is the B Listed warehouse on Argyle Street that was flattened for JP Morgan's new Scottish headquarters....surely an American multinational bank would have had the money to at least retain the facade? I don't remember Alan Dunlop, Kate McIntosh or Malcolm Fraser having much to say at the time to voice support for retaining a structure that was far more important architecturally than some tower blocks in North West Glasgow.
#4 Posted by Daniel on 20 Jan 2023 at 11:58 AM
#2 - and there's plenty of underutilised land there if the aim is to reinsert a street pattern, cross-subsidise refurbishment with new build etc
#5 Posted by alibi on 20 Jan 2023 at 12:26 PM
#4 the criticism relates to climate and social harm, not aesthetic. I agree though. Glasgow let's too many great buildings go.
Malcolm Fraser
#6 Posted by Malcolm Fraser on 20 Jan 2023 at 13:51 PM
#3, I knocked ma pan oot campaigning to save Dalmarnock's beautiful red sandstone tenement streets from being flattened for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Village. It's not up to me to be present at every campaign - indeed I trust you stepped-up and led at Argyle Street - but I do my bit. And in terms of "architectural importance" I disagree - plus have noted that there is a huge, additional social issue in clearing out 600 social homes. I have the greatest respect for Alan, Kate, those active young communists and all others that have stood up here. Good additional points above - yes, if we have all these tens of millions to spend, spend them on new housing in these blasted north and east Glasgow sites.
#7 Posted by Leither on 20 Jan 2023 at 15:14 PM
It's like Leith Fort all over again.

Fighting these case by case and we'll continue to lose, the regulatory system needs to change.
#8 Posted by modernish on 20 Jan 2023 at 16:31 PM
Fancy that...when i suggest FBOT was keyboard komsomol i was bang on the money (other people's money, of course).
Wyndford Lass
#9 Posted by Wyndford Lass on 20 Jan 2023 at 17:48 PM
#8 Is that you again Tam Mullen?
High tower
#10 Posted by High tower on 21 Jan 2023 at 13:24 PM
On my landing there are still 3 out of 6 occupied flats (can`t speak for other landings/blocks) wheatley are saying demolition will start in April (probably with stripping out unoccupied flats). There are still lots of people here who have not been given alternative housing options and to expect people who are working and have other commitments to just up sticks and move before April is unrealistic. Wheatley have had a year to offer residents alternative accommodation and have been very slow in doing so, so they are now left with the fact that there are still lots of people living here with the clock ticking towards their start date. On the matter of the amount of "eco houses" to be built on site, this is dependant on Glasgow city council demolishing the Hub and giving/selling the land to wheatley. So you have 2 issues, 1 demolition of the flats. 2 demolition of the Hub (the valley and wyndford`s community centre), this is opposed by by more than just the population of wyndford and therefore i think that part of the plan will not go ahead. If this is the case then you can write off at least half of the proposed amount of eco housing leaving a more realistic 150 new properties. 150 properties for 624 existing is not a sensible option considering the cost and the ever growing housing list. With regards to the "young" (none of them are!) communists half of them are from here half of them aren`t. What they did, did help highlight what is going on but their wider politics are NOT supported by the vast bulk of normal residents who don`t appreciate extremists from the far left or right/green/whatever else hijacking an issue that directly affects our lives. Fantasy build: (the fun bit!) I would love to see a world wide competition for a Glasgow tenement for the 21st century. There are some amazing new buildings in Boston the Netherlands and loads of other places round the world that would look great next to auld Glasgow tenements. With the winner being rolled out across vacant sites all over the city to reunify the old and new. I would love to see priority given to our major streets and crosses(Garscube Rd.Maryhill Rd.London Rd.Gallowgate ect ect) given that they are already main routes for public transport and there are so many gap sites in these places that could and should be filled. The increase in population would help shops and services along these routes as well as make our city look great. I also think that Baltic St, once a busy place, has been badly neglected to the point where it barely exists as a main Street anymore. Broomloan Rd, Saracen St and many others too. Things like this need to be the priority, not athletes villages and pulling down loads flats to put up next to nothing at great expense. This turned into a bit of an all over the place post!...sorry about that:)
Malcolm Fraser
#11 Posted by Malcolm Fraser on 24 Jan 2023 at 12:08 PM
#10 that's all very useful and relevant. Are you in touch with the Wyndford Residents Union? If not can I introduce you?
#12 Posted by Ben on 25 Jan 2023 at 09:58 AM
Sorry but I am with #3 on this shouldn't be up to members of the public to spearhead campaigns to save every historic building that is threatened with demolition....whilst the architects with prominent voices either seem to call for the demolition of buildings like the Glasgow School of Art, or to retain these awful concrete tower blocks that are not architecturally important in the same way that vernacular historic architecture is. The vast majority of these tenants want to see them demolished. Why don't we retain these particular towers and have them as architects only housing instead?

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