Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island has been recognized by the Brits themselves as the book which best represents England. In it, Bryson wanders the country in a constant state of amazement, commenting on the daily pleasures and misfortunes, such as the food, drinks and the many ways that lead from Surrey to Cornwall.
Bryson is obviously not a Modernist and he isn’t shy to share his opinion on buildings from the 1960’s. This is his take on Glasgow actually sums it up pretty well:
After the war, Glasgow did the most extraordinary thing. It built vast estates of shiny tower blocks out in the countryside and decanted tens of thousands of people from inner-city slums like the Gorbals into them, but it forgot to provide any infrastructure. Forty thousand people were moved to the Easterhouse estate alone, and when they got there they found smart new flats with indoor plumbing but no cinemas, no shops, no banks, no pubs, no schools, no jobs, no health centers, no doctors. So every time they wanted anything, like a drink or work or medical attention, they had to climb aboard a bus and ride for miles back into the city. In consequence of this and other considerations like lifts that were forever breaking down, they grew peevish and turned them into new slums. The result is that Glasgow has some of the worst housing problems in the developed world.
Now this was observed in 1995 when they already had begun solving the tower block housing problem by just deleting the problem. With most social issues now gone, recent years have witnessed something of a renewed interest of the Glasgow tower block, as already reported on here.
LIGHTS OUT – At Glasgow’s Twin Towers is a short documentary about the so-called Gallowgate Twins (the Whitevale and Bluevale flats) which are the next ones on the list for a little fun with gravity. The two 31-storey and 91-meter-tall buildings have 348 homes between them and are the tallest buildings in Scotland.
Chris Leslie, a BAFTA Scotland New Talent award winning filmmaker, spend 4 years documenting the buildings through timelapse recordings and audio interviews with the first and last residents. The results have been processed into a 10-minute film which can be rented or bought through Vimeo for a small fee. The trailer off course is free. And yes, that would have been better with subtitles.
featured image source: Graeme Maclean at Flickr