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Mast Architects renew demolition application for B-listed Castlemilk Parish Church

July 30 2015

Mast Architects renew demolition application for B-listed Castlemilk Parish Church
Social housing specialists Mast Architects have renewed an application to demolish the B-listed Castlemilk Parish Church on Carmunnock Road, Glasgow, following expiry of an earlier 2012 application.

This consented to The Church of Scotland demolishing Castlemilk Parish Church only on the proviso that contracts be in place for the redevelopment of the site, which sits within an area of ongoing housing renewal.

Originally designed by Thomas Gratton and peter McLean in 1957-59 the post-war structure was described by Historic Scotland as a ‘powerful composition, redolent of Festival of Britain detailing.’

Making reference to a symbolic ‘ark’ the hall was conceived to resemble a ship’s hold at lower level with coloured and mottled opaque glass lending it an ecclesiastical air.


#1 Posted by wonky on 30 Jul 2015 at 13:59 PM
Another fascinating building- precious few exist in this area- to bite the dust. What is wrong with these barbarians at the gate? They won't be satisfied until they've melted down the gates for scrap metal & replaced them with cost-effective recycled plastic gates inspired by disposable canteen cutlery...there are whole swathes of derelict-brownfield land adjacent to this splendid building- what is wrong with using that instead? If it must come down then why not retain its best features ( ala Walter Benjamin style 'redemption') & integrate them into a future structure? I despair at the world my children will inherit.
Big Mad Maud
#2 Posted by Big Mad Maud on 30 Jul 2015 at 15:38 PM
Won't somebody please, think of the children.
#3 Posted by Peter on 30 Jul 2015 at 19:22 PM
The problem is that there are a large number of such listed churches, many lying derelict or unused. Given the evident deterioration in the fabric of the building, the presence of a superior Gillespie Kidd and Coia designed church in the area and a failure to find a suitable alternative use for the hall, demolition probably remains the only viable option.
#4 Posted by wonky on 30 Jul 2015 at 19:30 PM
Despite the smug cynicism of intellectual behemoths such as Big Mad Maud is it not a reasonably important question to ask: "is the destruction of qualitatively superior culture by capitalist rationalization injurious to the next generation ( who by definition will inherit a manifestly inferior structural environment)?" Cue the sneers...
#5 Posted by wonky on 30 Jul 2015 at 22:54 PM
In no way do I expect this to survive as a functioning- but the preservation of its best aesthetic elements imaginatively integrated into a new structure is not an outlandish proposal. Do we have any ambition left as a society beyond the purely functional? If not then what is the point of human activity? Why bother preserving anything of value at all if we continue to believe in a 'progress' that assumes the past is obsolete?
#6 Posted by chelle on 30 Jul 2015 at 23:22 PM
I dont know if its still a functioning church. But i know community groups still use it. It is a meeting point for children /parents that maybe feel they too big to be collected so you say ok get you at the noahs ark church. If its to be demolished what is getting put in its place ?
Peter Stevens
#7 Posted by Peter Stevens on 31 Jul 2015 at 00:55 AM
As someone who grew up in the locality, who patents were married there, was christened there, went to school services there etc etc etc let it go !!! The local community does not need the burden of a listed structure to retain for aesthetics or tradition. Knock the place down them develop the land and put the profits towards a central castlemilk churche for the few people that use it to come together and enjoy it. Why bourdon today with the baggage of yesterday. Without sense there will be no community for today left
#8 Posted by wonky on 31 Jul 2015 at 08:23 AM
My point is there are huge swathes of redundant land in the immediate vicinity- why go out the way to use land that houses a listed structure? If there is some peculiarly urgent reason to do so then why can't the salient features that have given it listed status be retained in a new structure?
Do we lack imagination? Do we even care about retaining traces of what are significant architectural features? If not then we've reduced architecture to the purely functional- when did beauty become a burden? It seems to me that culturally we might as well give up the ghost if listed status means nothing.
#9 Posted by Clive on 31 Jul 2015 at 09:33 AM
i don't support any state support for the church, but as a pre-existing community space, it hold definitely be retained. As the article states, it sits within an area of ongoing housing renewal. One thing housing renewal needs is a sense of community - somewhere to meet, gather and interact. Why build a new one, when one stands already?
#10 Posted by Tom on 31 Jul 2015 at 09:54 AM
Reminds me of the Glenrothes baptist church, anyone know if it is the same architects?
Devil's advocate
#11 Posted by Devil's advocate on 31 Jul 2015 at 10:21 AM
Looks properly bug**rd though doesn't it Wonks?
James Tallent
#12 Posted by James Tallent on 31 Jul 2015 at 10:39 AM
Surrounded by wasteland, where it used to be three storey blocks. Of course it doesn't need to be pulled down. My uncle Harry used to mow the grass for the church, as a volunteer. Castlemilk wasn't that bad in the 50s and 60s. This building, restored could be at the heart of something, again.
#13 Posted by Crowsus on 31 Jul 2015 at 11:22 AM
I can't really comment on the cultural merits of retaining the building but I do agree it is an interesting landmark in a locality which has few notable features. But I was there recently and it is in a bit of a state - the wood has been allowed to rot and the render is flaking off. It might still be salvageable, but given that the sister church on the other side of the district has already been torn down and a new replacement in the centre is under construction, it seems unlikely to be saved.

Unfortunately it also seems doubtful to me that the land would be used for anything useful in the short term, given the vast swathes of waste ground in Castlemilk, and particularly the Glenacre Drive area which backs onto this site and has lain unused since the slum clearance of the slum clearance in the 1990s. The only thing to be said for Castlemilk in this regard is it isn't quite as barren as Drumchapel and Easterhouse (it seems fair to compare the redevelopment of the mega schemes given their similarities), all have varying degrees of pleasant low density modern housing, redeveloped old tenements, a few boarded-up beige relic blocks here and there and significant pockets of these extensive brownfield zones where churches etc once stood, preventing a cohesive community fabric from emerging and isolating the residents in their new homes.
Big Chantelle
#14 Posted by Big Chantelle on 31 Jul 2015 at 11:39 AM
This here is a wonderful illustration of how the lefty brain works. You love to show your 'superior' intellect by pretending to see merits in ghastly buildings like this. It is an eyesore. But you think the extent to which you are contrarians to common good taste i.e. the extent to which you have a differing view to the common person, it makes you seem so much more cultured because ordinary people who appreciate, cough, cough, traditional architecture etc are backwards.

The church is hideous -- so, it was a designed to resemble a ship. Great concrete modernist logic there -- except the building doesn't actually resemble the thing in question. But hey, the building needs infused with a narrative because it can't stand on its architectural merits.And by the dodgy building materials -- it doesn't look like it can't very well either. Yet another 'modenrist' masterpiece which was an abject failed building. Funny, all these 'pastiche' stone churches don't seem to fall apart so quickly or badly. But then again, they have ornament and human feeling imparted into them -- something you lot hate.

Knock it down.

Sadly, when and if it is knocked down, something terrible will no doubt be built in its place.
#15 Posted by wonky on 31 Jul 2015 at 12:21 PM
Thank you Crowsus for recognizing the absurdity of wanting to 'free' land that in all likelihood be used for anything due to the large amounts of unused land surrounding the church at present- why would this piece of land be any different?
We have to open up debate around whether or not listed status is in anyway relevant anymore as either a working concept or a practical category for protecting buildings- particularly in light of the amount of buildings in Glasgow planned for demolition in the near future. Demolition is not a solution at all. Under certain conditions it ought to be the very last resort- but we have to be more imaginative in our problem solving than raising structures to the ground.
If a community has lost the will to fight for buildings that are part of its history then where is that community going- what values does it have? We need to take architecture beyond the purely functional or it will die as an art form. As an aside Castlemilk is certainly in a more favourable position than the other 'super-estates' in the city such as Easterhouse/Drumchapel- its closer to the city, with better transport links, feels more integrated into the fabric of the city & not so isolated, & more over has a sense of being better planned, more dense & cohesive than the others ( also with lovely vistas overlooking the city in the distance).
Tom Manley
#16 Posted by Tom Manley on 31 Jul 2015 at 13:57 PM
Some internal photos would be useful here... interesting debate here re whether to save or demolish... if an architect came up with an imaginative vision and put it out there of how any lifeline to this building could work then that would be a starting point - architects can't just expect a council or funder to come asking for this...if more speculative concepts were envisioned then buildings like this might have more chance and alternative futures enabled! Too often than not architects are enslaved to the developer or planning authority! Hope it gets remembered and not just built on top of with as many houses as possible. From the outside the building looks knackered, and personally of little architectural merit compared to the array of Victorian buildings that are demolished or razed to the ground due to neglect. The challenge here is to respect the present land use rather than the building itself... either as a community facility, church, health, meeting place, trading outlet... play area etc... residents of local area should be encouraged to identify new uses for the land... In that case fair enough - knock it down and build something better... that helps foster a sense of place, removes the sense of loss and enhances surrounding parcels of housing land...
#17 Posted by wonky on 31 Jul 2015 at 14:07 PM
Here we go again. "concrete modernist lefties...yadayadayada...." first of all BC it wouldn't be difficult to show superiority to your intellect. How does the 'lefty' brain work? Does it use only the left-side of the left hemisphere of its lefty brain? Okay you don't like the building. It was built after the war. We get it. That aside: what has the building to do with the massive loss of population/the congregation ? What building is not adversely effected by the elements if is not in use? Maybe BC's magical 'pastiche' stone churches that don't ever fall apart or let rain are also made from fairy stones? I would like to know. I demand to know about the fairy stones!
Bob, Ag & Willie
#18 Posted by Bob, Ag & Willie on 31 Jul 2015 at 16:49 PM
Why would anyone want to develop the swathes of land when it would overlook this? Granted, it merited its listing at the time, but it's obviously outlived itself.

Get rid
matthew finkle
#19 Posted by matthew finkle on 2 Aug 2015 at 16:50 PM
As a resident of this area I would sat it would be good to refurbish the building, but it has been poorly maintained for over 20 years. The designs of this period are interesting and worthy of their post war listings, but in some cases the materials are so poor they have proved impossible to upkeep.
Mrs L. Smith
#20 Posted by Mrs L. Smith on 29 May 2016 at 18:57 PM
Photos of James Tallent's Uncle Harry are to be found on earlycastlemilkwest.blogspot. He is cutting the grass on one photo with Sandy, his dog in front of the church.

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