Ossian Lore Profile picture
Jun 17, 2018 14 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Some thoughts on the revised planning application for the Custom House on Clyde St #Glasgow.

You can view it here: publicaccess.glasgow.gov.uk/online-applica…

Image by Chris Firth via flickr.com/photos/migrand…
Dating to 1840 the Custom House is one of the oldest surviving buildings on the Clyde as it flows through Glasgow. It has been some years since it performed its original function, latterly used by the PF & then as offices, it has been empty for around a decade now.
The application site encompasses the adjoining tenement on the corner of Dixon St which has just been demolished (I’ll get to that further into the thread), I’ve outlined the site in red. Green & yellow are currently under construction, blue & pink have proposals approved.
When looking at this new proposal it’s important to keep a few things in perspective. This drawing gives the proposal a wider context & depicts some approved but unrelated plans for other sites, its important not to let your feelings about other proposals affect this one.
This proposal is one third of the city block and is bounded by two 10+ storey towers to Jamaica St, the actual Custom House is sandwiched between these towers, the demolition site on Dixon St & the under construction hotel on Howard St. Its actually quite a tricky site to handle.
I'm by no means ‘wowed’ by this proposal, its ok, its urban wallpaper. But I actually quite like the response to the site, it is, in its way, quite deferential to the Custom House. It seeks to balance the towers to its west with an element of similar height to its east.
The new central tower element acts as a not entirely inelegant backdrop to Custom House, it is proposed to replace the stable block & so will be set behind the Clyde St frontage, the Custom House itself will be incorporated into the hotel with what looks like minimal alterations.
The new buildings to Dixon St will incorporate ground floor retail so should help bring some life to the Clyde, its overall proportions & the way its profile steps back as it gets taller is also a welcome response. But it as a bit clunky. Meh more than Ooh.
So overall I am quite pleased by this proposal, if a little underwhelmed. Its a tricky site to work with, lots of different elements, considerations & viewpoints to reconcile. This response doesnt do too badly & other than it being a bit dull I cant find any good reason to object

I want to turn attention back to Dixon St tenement that has just been demolished - lets have a look at the history of this site…

The Custom House tells the usual sad story but remains in good condition, nothing to see here
Dixon House tells the story of gradual decay and rapid decline following a 2013 fire, you can see the result of the fire in this google aerial
But that wasn’t the only factor at play here, as Google Earth views handily illustrate…

A large section of the tenements roof had been entirely, somewhat meticulously, removed. I’ve highlighted the area in red in this image, keep an eye on the area in the next few images
First image is 2002, the slated roof looks in good condition but for the section where slates have been removed and the sarking is exposed. 2009 the roof is succumbing to water ingress as ghosts of rafters begin to show. 2012 roof visibly deteriorating. 2016, destroyed.
It all begs two questions...

Who was responsible for so carefully removing the slates from the entire Clyde frontage of Dixon House?

Did no-one at Glasgow City Council - who brought the building to the attention of Buildings at Risk in 2007! - think to check google maps?

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More from @OssianLore

Aug 9, 2018
@dickebuerste53 @GdTenementGuide Thats a BIG question that really deserves a thesis to give a proper answer. The primary factor in why Scotland has tenements & England less so is down to the difference in legal definitions of property ownership. Scots law follows Roman law in that ownership is an absolute right
@dickebuerste53 @GdTenementGuide That is, you either own it or you don’t. In England you don’t have to prove absolute ownership, just that your case is better than anyone else’s. How that translates into tenements over terraces is a result of who owned what land and to what extent they developed it.
@dickebuerste53 @GdTenementGuide Wherever a landowner, whether aristocrat or merchant, thought they could turn a profit by building then they would. So the high streets of Scottish towns ended up with various stages of tenement development. Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and Glasgow’s High St developed in this manner.
Read 17 tweets
Jun 19, 2018
Following on from my previous thread where I laid out my thoughts on the future of the Mackintosh building at Glasgow School of Art it might be useful to address some of the points raised in the various discussions that have taken place surrounding it

The previous thread was only ever intended as my initial reaction to MackFire2, in absence of anything more substantial than the shared shock and grief. It inadvertently became a wider look at historic building management, development practices & statutory body responsibilities
Keep in mind it was a stream of thought expressed in the moment (& from a tablet…), I hope to articulate those thoughts a little more comprehensively here. I have no news on the Mack that you won’t already have access to, so I don’t think it will be much of a scoop I’m afraid.
Read 73 tweets
Jun 16, 2018
Some thoughts on the future of the Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art...

The building has been gutted, literally. Some parts are in danger of impending collapse and will have to be taken down. It will be difficult to achieve this safely & there is a high probability
...that other parts, if not whole sections - if not the entire structure - will have to be demolished in order to make internal parts safely accessible.

This could mean complete demolition of the entire block encompassing the Mack, the ABC venue and the adjoining site.
It's a disaster. The fact that there has been no official positive talk so far on the viability of the structure following the fire, although it is still early days, doesn't bode well.

It does, however present an opportunity. Finite grief but infinite hope...
Read 40 tweets
Jun 6, 2018
Photographer #RaymondDepardon visited #Glasgow in 1980 on assignment from the Sunday Times. The job was to photograph affluence & poverty, neither were something Glasgow was short of. But the affluence of Glasgow in 1980 was discreet, largely retreated to neighbouring suburbs.
This once metropolis had torn - and was continuing to tear- itself apart. The brick and ashlar edifices that lined the gridded streets, the great architectural baubles and trinkets that two centuries of commerce & industry had built were disappearing. So too were its people.
How could you plan for life when there's no certainty your workplace, house, your street, your entire district will stand for any length of time. What is hope when decrepitude stands on every other corner, whole streets of empty tenements lined up waiting for their execution.
Read 78 tweets
May 19, 2018
A stroll along the serpentine walk on #GlasgowGreen some time between 1810 and 1820. Cattle can be seen grazing in the park while folk work and play on the beach
A wooden footbridge marks the spot at the foot of a recently extended Saltmarket where the current Albert Bridge stands. The original 14th century Glasgow Bridge stands behind it and would be replaced in the coming decades.
Peeking through the trees on the left is the spire of David Hamilton's recently completed Gorbals Parish Church. Its spire was 174 feet tall but lost its upper portion after being struck by lightning in 1929.
Read 12 tweets

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