Glasgow Architecture blog: Giving the city its identity
Glasgow is a city that I have always loved to wander in, but lately I find myself more impressed than ever by its architectural beauty. Most people who know Glasgow will tell you to “look up” when walking the city streets to fully appreciate the intricate detail of the building designs. Very valid advice, but Glasgow has become so visually special nowadays that looking in any direction you like will surely leave you impressed.
The city is just getting better and better. The rush towards the Commonwealth Games in 2014 is seeing huge investment in sporting venues that are being thrown up at super-fast pace. This nicely compliments the old-world charm of much of the rest of the city. A wander down to the banks of the mighty River Clyde shows the iconic Armadillo building now partnered with a giant flying saucer (SSE Hydro). Throw in the ‘Squinty’ bridge, the Science Centre and the impressively designed new Transport Museum and there’s a city from the future right before my eyes.
Even more special though for this Glaswegian is the Victorian architecture for which the city is best known. The City Chambers and the West End masterpiece Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum are the most famous. The beautiful colurs of sandstone homes in the city’s west end are a permanent symbol of Glasgow’s style. Try walking down Great Western Road at dusk and not getting a shiver as the city’s spires loom overhead in every direction. Going even further back, the medieval Glasgow Cathedral stands as a testament to the power of the church in the city’s history. The cathedral is perfectly paired with the Necropolis, where prominent Glaswegians lie in rest.
Glasgow has an inescapbale history for producing great artists and none are more renowned that Charles Rennie Macintosh and Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. I have a personal leaning towards Thomson although Macintosh’s Japanese-influenced style is better known and can be seen at the Glasgow School of Art (his masterpiece) and the Willow Tea Rooms in the city centre. Thomson’s influence is everywhere in Glasgow from the modern and trendy Merchant City to the tombs of the Necropolis. It can be easily identified by the powerful Greek-style pillars or the almost Egyptian-looking carvings in the stonework of buildings. His best work is Holmwood House in the South Side of Glasgow that now serves almost as a monument to the man and his vision.
The image of Glasgow as a dull, dreary industrial city (as I have heard it called) is just ridiculous. For its architecture alone, it is right up there as one of Europe’s most captivating and diverse urban treasures.