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Commonwealth Games tower block demolition called off

April 14 2014

Commonwealth Games tower block demolition called off
The explosive issue of whether to synchronise the demolition of five disused tower blocks on the Red Road estate as the centrepiece of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games opening ceremony has been defused after organisers called off the plan.

Citing ‘safety and security’ concerns around the timing of the event Glasgow 2014 conducted a sharp U-turn having announced the bid just 10 days ago, after representations were made by Police Scotland’s security director for the event.

Games chief executive David Grevemberg said: "We made it clear from the outset the absolute priority was safety and that this event would only happen during the opening ceremony if it was safe to do so.

"Over the past few days it has become clear that opinions have been expressed which change the safety and security context.”
Police Scotland detective chief constable Steve Allen, security director for the Games, said: "It became clear that the plan generated a range of strong opinions which changed the safety and security context.

"I asked the chairman of the board to reconsider its decision in order to take account of the resources and scale of the operation that would now be required, and one which would be out of proportion to the friendly atmosphere sought by the board for the Commonwealth Games."

The demolitions will now be rescheduled for a less contentious moment.


Mac Mac
#1 Posted by Mac Mac on 14 Apr 2014 at 11:11 AM
Another disgrace by Gordon Matheson, stupid idea and stupid man.....the people of Glasgow deserve better.
I'm sure he was looking forward to approach the RIAS to run another competition for him for the replacement if!!
Cat Flap
#2 Posted by Cat Flap on 14 Apr 2014 at 12:25 PM
Big Chantelle?
#3 Posted by GCC on 14 Apr 2014 at 13:05 PM
Glad to see common sense prevail. Shame they didn't had to mask the u-turn through 'safety and security corncerns' and couldn't admit they got it wrong.
kevin toner
#4 Posted by kevin toner on 14 Apr 2014 at 14:14 PM
The baby’s been thrown and the bath water kept.

Disgraceful, whoever’s to blame! Dunlop etc. have been too clever, and bananas, at the wrong time.

Is it too late for second thoughts?

If we sacrifice Red Rd - to commemorate - then those we fail might be more likely to give ‘despair and survival’ a second thought at that crucial moment.

Our bottling-up of tower block tragedies from around the world can now no longer be shed meaningfully in 2014 when the world will be watching and in commemorative spirit.

It’s especially not the year to be being too picky on what’s to be commemorated and hypocritically stifling the potentially best examples.

Our architecture community is right to treasure the concept - occasionally reluctantly - of tower blocks, but in doing so here in 2014 rather than say for 2016’s Focus Year of Architecture, could be sending the wrong signals that Scots are that defensive over their heritage they’re willing to discard a worldwide message of commemoration and compassion. Is it because it would be a Commonwealth Nations led message that the world indeed continues to, desperately, care for and remember those whom it’s failed, who’ve perished, through falling prey to social circumstance in drastically wrong contexts.

For the maddest commemoration deed on Earth to have legs, it would need to be under another banner, but which?

Let’s shift the games elsewhere where they’ll be appreciated rather than capitalised over.

What a disappointment, Glasgow!

Maybe saving Bunton’s Red Rd will offer a stalemate to counter our squandering of a checkmate, a meaningful sacrifice of Red Rd to commemorate. A follow-up petition has already surfaced on saving the remaining flats at
Rem Koolbag
#5 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 14 Apr 2014 at 16:54 PM
Kevin, I am unsure whether your issue is too much, or not enough, drugs, but please - try a little editing before pressing send!

If the little comment box is driving you stir crazy enough to post drivel like that above, maybe you should unplug and go for a walk? I hear there are some spiffing listed kerb stones worth a visit out in the west end at the moment....
Lee Ivett
#6 Posted by Lee Ivett on 14 Apr 2014 at 22:22 PM
wow, that's some amount of impenetrable waffle Mr. Toner
alan dunlop
#7 Posted by alan dunlop on 15 Apr 2014 at 08:22 AM
Normally I would not respond to drivel but as I'm mentioned..... WTF are you talking about Kevin Toner. On second thoughts, no don't tell me, don't really want to know.
#8 Posted by davidwilson on 15 Apr 2014 at 08:51 AM
Pleased to hear that this has been cancelled.

However, I'm simply stunned at the reason being given. Effectively, under the direction of council leader Gordon Matheson, the story being fed to us is that 'protesters' against the planned demolition have effectively made it 'unsafe' for it to go ahead.

'Strong Opinions' have caused the cancellation. In every day language that means 'threats'. Does anyone know of any 'threats' or protest planned to hamper the planned event ? I certainly don't.

When this plan was unveiled, Matheson told us it met with strong public support, though no-one in the press thought it a worthy question to ask when Matheson carried out a public poll to give his assertions some basis in reality.

Now when humbled with this climbdown, the press yet again happily comply by not asking any embarrassing questions of Matheson over this most ridiculous of excuses.

What a shambles.
alan dunlop
#9 Posted by alan dunlop on 15 Apr 2014 at 09:25 AM
Wrong. I doubt Matheson had much to do with the idea. I suggest that it was first put forward by some bright spark PR and supported by those event specialists and management who know nothing or little about Glasgow's social and architectural history. It was a Public Relations gaff of monumental proportions that's all. I'm no supporter of the Chief Exec after George Square but Matheson and other council leaders have been skewered rightly by the press over this but don't make this a GCC political issue. The right decision has now been made, if anything it will now make the council open their eyes and absolutely focus more on the content of the games and appropriateness.
#10 Posted by Alf on 15 Apr 2014 at 09:33 AM
davidwilson - I'm beginning to wonder if The Press are intentionally holding back on slating Matheson until after the Games, or am I giving them too much credit? It seems to be one shambles after another with this chap.
kevin toner
#11 Posted by kevin toner on 25 Apr 2014 at 00:27 AM
Ps Two points follow etc., which I’m regurgitating from a recent article comment in Building Design and related to the alternative to demolition. The subject of which captured Evening Times readers’ attention yesterday due to the aforementioned alternative petition to save the towers having been authored by a teenager who used to live there. [ Feel free to sign it here:- ] I posted this following script on the petition yesterday, which I thought would continue this thread in a better light. I hadn’t realised so much of the UR’s readership were happy to see Red Rd dissapear without notice.

1) There's apparently yet mileage in the open balcony in the skies type residence within the commercial private developer sector, sometimes even double the height of these: see newly proposed examples for London’s Isle of Dogs ; or recently in Toronto here - Housing Associations can’t take the risk on these in the same way that developers do, but perhaps a partnership is possible if not an outright asset transfer deal such as at Park Hill, a refurbishment role model as follows;

2) The formula at Park Hill in Sheffield is the re-use of the post-war structure to create a newly faced residential development, which was due to a successful negotiation to retain its structure as part of a Listed Building Consent, exactly where Red Rd could have been at the moment if it were likewise listed grade B (if not Grade A).

Furthermore, Park Hill was the strongest contender for the latest Stirling Prize in my opinion, not merely because the bookmakers had it as a favourite. Potential developers will bear this in mind. Red Rd’s frames have a wow factor, offer greater flexibility, are pre-built with no planning objections, etc. They’re there on a platter.

Red Rd not being listed doesn’t strictly mean that entrepreneurial developers won’t be interested, particularly if the price is right - on the asbestos removed frames and the land.

The alternative [social housing] approach could be whereby a social landlord boxes in the frames as it sees fit with its own brand of ideally safer and greener high-rise. There’s a golden opportunity to almost effortlessly provide 3000 new zero carbon homes without even needing to erect a structure.

It could also be good for the city’s image to capitalise on its present skyline impact as a positive attribute and gesture (of a developed and yet growing city) and to do this with the unique heritage; masterplan; and steel frame asset values; etc. all in place already and therefore free of charge.

It’s now or never though and it seems like a great and morally driven option to consider given that the globally staged implosions have been denied.

For celebrating re-birth, if it can’t be done through the 2014 Games staged implosions, let’s do it by staging an animation of the towers’ renewal as re-born icons/homes for the future. Let’s either engage an international competition to put all or each tower back on the map and property chain; or at this stage, simply and modestly by comparison, renovate them for affordable and/or social housing... Either way would warrant a legacy in the making. Let’s not sell ourselves short by letting these towers slowly disappear without trace.

Glasgow needs more, legacy-wise, after 2014 than a mere the Athletes’ Village!
kevin toner
#12 Posted by kevin toner on 25 Apr 2014 at 08:51 AM

pps Forgot to mention that Park Hill was actually the Architects Journal readership choice too - great minds think alike!

Recently masterplan wise, here’s a link to

What would be interesting to hear about is what a revived Red Rd complex can do for this regeneration [motorway corridor] strategy and vice versa!

Let’s hear what our greatest urbanist minds would think of such a fusion; see some ideas or even possible exemplars.

Would probably even make an ideal architecture diploma urban study project or architecture schools competition too, etc.!

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