scrap the listed building system

World architecture... what's happening generally....

Postby space_invader » Mon Jun 14, 2004 4:31 pm

Alan - sure that one wasn't signed:

Malcolm Fraser

!!!

;)

Will these replies be in the Herald on Wednesday?
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Postby aland » Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:32 am

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Postby space_invader » Wed Jun 16, 2004 3:27 pm

cheers - a pretty successful Big Idea for the Herald I reckon.

Decent responses etc. Shame Herald doesn't have a more cohesive 'built environment reportage' strategy within its sheets, cos when it does an 'architecture feature' its often quite good.
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Postby FIN » Wed Jun 16, 2004 4:56 pm

do u derive preverse satisfaction alan?
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Postby aland » Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:21 am

.......and not just from this FIN old boy:p
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Postby FIN » Fri Jun 18, 2004 10:55 am

:D go on ya good thing! ha,ha... some of them reasonable...others as u would expect to be honest, from people that would lose their jobs if it was scrapped...goddam hippy's
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Jun 21, 2004 5:12 pm

follow up in Scotland on Sunday


Out with the old in with the new

Magnus Linklater


ONE evening last summer I spent an hour or two dialling and redialling the same telephone number in order to cast a vote for the conservation of a building I had never seen. It was a fruitless exercise. Mavisbank House, in Loanhead, near Edinburgh, one of the finalists in the BBC 2 Restoration series, was eliminated - my feverish dialling got it nowhere.

Why on earth did I bother? Here is a fine, but crumbling building, a Palladian villa with its past behind it, which will take many millions to preserve and which, in a country already rich with crumbling buildings, is hardly unique. Let it crumble, as John Ruskin would certainly have argued. "Restoration," he once wrote, "means the most total destruction which a building can suffer... it is impossible, as impossible as to raise the dead, to restore anything that has ever been great or beautiful in architecture… Do not let us talk then of restoration, the thing is a Lie from beginning to end."

My enthusiasm stemmed, not so much from Mavisbank’s beauty as from the passion it arouses. Those who are devoted to it - notably my friend James Simpson, the architect, who introduced me to it and spoke glowingly about its charm and importance - have given it a new life, a new reason for it to survive and flourish.

Buildings can arouse devotion to the point of obsession. Caroline Park, a 17th century mansion overlooking the Forth at Granton, has a small coterie of supporters, including the artist Richard de Marco, all determined to protect it from the worst intrusions of the new waterfront developments on Edinburgh’s north side. This is a rescued building, and a much loved one too.

I could not summon up the same enthusiasm for Queensberry House, on the Canongate. To spend more than £10m gutting and rebuilding a 17th century house, of which there are other, finer examples in Edinburgh, to accommodate it within the plan for the new parliament, seemed to serve no real purpose. Very little of the original building remains. The external rendering was removed, as was the 19th century plaster-work. The old timber flooring has been taken out and replaced with steel beams and concrete floors. It is a shell of its original self. It could just as easily, and far more economically, have been pulled down.

That, I think, is what the architect Alan Dunlop had in mind when he argued recently that the listed buildings system should be scrapped. He even supported the controversial demolition of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s offices in Glasgow. I cannot believe there was ever a case for destroying the creation of one of Scotland’s few truly great architects, but buildings need champions, and this one did not have enough. It is true, however, that the dry interpretation of conservation rules has held back the restoration of many structures which might have had new life breathed into them, either by allowing a change of use or by giving architects the opportunity to graft new designs on to old structures in the manner of the Italian architect Carlo Scarpa.

It is, I suppose, a lack of confidence about architectural values that holds us back from bold new statements and the imaginative adaptation of old buildings. Instead, we fall back, time and again, on pastiche, the worst kind of blind imitation of the past. Whether it is the ‘re-authentication’ of Burns’ cottage in Alloway, the fake recreation of Scotland’s history at Edinburgh Castle, or a pretend Old Town hotel on the city’s High Street, we have come to rely on imitations of the past as the only means of conservation. "Stupid imitations of that sort always look mean," said Scarpa. "Buildings that imitate look like humbugs, and that’s what they are."

Caught between slavish imitations of the past and a severely negative view of modern architecture, it is hardly surprising to find little enthusiasm for new building amongst the general public. Why should they identify with it if they are given no clear reasons for doing so? Housing developments of indeterminate character mushroom around the outskirts of our cities, reflecting neither imaginative design nor any recognition of the landscape or tradition in which they are placed. Architecture is given no public profile by government, nor does it rate as a serious topic for discussion - though, just possibly, Enric Miralles’ dramatic creation at Holyrood may alter that. Unless people are given a reason to love their architecture, it will always be difficult to breathe new life into it.

Given the chance, however, to become involved in design ideas, that enthusiasm can easily be kindled. I remember going round the exhibition of Homes of the Future, a Page and Park development for Glasgow ’99, which gave local people the chance of contributing their ideas to the development of their own housing. They seized on the concept with gusto, were heavily involved and had rapidly grasped the jargon, swapping confident references to such things as vernacular statements, linear development, and the creative use of space. I believe the adventurous Maggie’s Centres for cancer patients, at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital, and Ninewells in Dundee, designed by Richard Murphy and Frank Gehry respectively, show that innovative design can win the support of the people.

Arguments over architecture and design are at best dry and empty affairs unless they involve the people who are going to use them, and the place in which they are set. We should be trying to kindle that interest by championing new ideas and by demonstrating that modern buildings come into their own only when they have immediate relevance to those who are going to live, work or spend time in them. "Only connect!" said EM Forster. It is as true of buildings as it is of people.



http://news.scotsman.com/archive.cfm?id=698562004
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Postby aland » Tue Jun 22, 2004 9:01 am

what makes me laugh about the Scottish establishment is they're all so bloody patronising...........I Think.
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Postby space_invader » Tue Jun 22, 2004 4:44 pm

Alan - you have obviously ruffled some feathers. Feather's of people with less clear arguments than your own.

Anyway - whats that bit about the Page and Park designed Homes for the Future? Page masterplanned it and there's no social housing within (is there?) so which local residents had a hand in the design of "their own housing". It all sounds a bit vague to me. Residents in the above named develpoment are drawn from the media and business classes of the city, not from the Gallowgate. This area of the text and then the low-level reading of the Maggie Centres caused me to lend minimal weight to his words.

But – mainstream architectural debate ahoy!

Excellent.
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Postby aland » Tue Jun 22, 2004 5:00 pm

People scratching around with a deadline and a vague idea about writing something about architecture and not quite knowing what ...........or giving credit or praise or critisism fall back on what they know that other people will agree with and feel they are comfortable with .

Who's gonna argue about David Page or Richard Murphy, or that the Parliament is a dramatic creation. Safe ground here alright for the ex chair of the SAC and editor of the Scotsman.

Yawwwwwwwwwwn
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Postby aland » Tue Jun 22, 2004 5:09 pm

Went to the Parliament yesterday S.I. by the way

God.............. is that critic from the Times gonna feel like a prat in a few years time.

"Woaaaaah Enric, hoad oan a minute"
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Jun 30, 2004 12:42 am

Boxy? No, it's part of our city heritage
Evening News

It is a 1960s box-like house which has been branded an eyesore by its owners. The former home of the late architect Alexander Esme Gordon, with its Japanese-influenced landscaped garden, is hardly a place of pilgrimage for his fans. But what appeared to be a straightforward plan to bulldoze the house to make way for three new homes has run into problems after Historic Scotland decided to list the building. Now, owners Alistair and Julia White have been left with the almost impossible task of trying to convince city chiefs and the heritage watchdog that the house is not worth saving. The couple had dreamt up a grand vision for the site in Greenhill Park in Merchiston after hiring award-winning city architect Richard Murphy to draw up designs.

http://news.scotsman.com/archive.cfm?id=744932004

I particularly like the owners' comment "It is a 1960s box - it is not worth listing. "
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Postby aland » Wed Jun 30, 2004 8:46 am

well exactly........how perverse it that, eh?

Much more interesting for me though is the comment from the Cockburn Society, if they know anything about this architect or the true worth of the building I'll be very surprised.

It's as much about influence and patronage as "heritage". Why should their arguements or docomomo's or Historic Scotland's hold more weight than the owners of the property ( they can now not do anything with) or indeed Murphy's?
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Postby space_invader » Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:11 am

aland:

someone needs to explain to me why the debating chamber is so impressive.

wrong thread, I know.

For some reason tho, Alan - I thought you'd lap the parliament up.

my memory of the interior has changed again. Now I just remember it as being a bit gloomy.

oh dear.
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Postby aland » Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:36 am

yeah, I thought I would too S.I.

........you know that we have been as outspoken and supportive as any architect, particularly Gordon.

the critical parameters have been set by the Times architectural critic one end and the Scotsman the other. The truth about the quality of the building of course lies somewhere in the middle.

In my view, now having seen it almost complete and visited all the main spaces is that it's over the top and the designers should have been reigned in. The mp's block it particular is a full on attack on the senses.

The debating chamber is a good example for it as 120 individually designed tension rods......why? The most elegant spaces connecting the msp's chambers to the parliament the public will never see. The public arrival area, in contrast has a underground cavern feel

So depressing.......but hey the garden has still to be finished and maybe that'll pull it all together ..................at the moment you have to look for the surrounding landscape?

Fuck me, there is an extinct volcano on it's boundary!
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Postby aland » Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:50 am

should also say that the some of the younger architects in the office thought it was "excellent"............. so maybe it's me after all.

Hey ho
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Postby space_invader » Wed Jun 30, 2004 11:09 am

These days I find myself asking: "Why grey?"

Miralles - you bastard,

why grey?

on another note: hodder's swimming pool may be demolished cos of design defects yet it was well respected by the profession etc , holyrood inquiry, Greek Thompson and his scruffy office block, "it's just a shitty box" comment, location, location, location.

out of the above mess may well come a public willing to engage with design issues on a broader basis than has been the norm until now.

But then a recent survey has shown modern architecture to be unloved by most.

so.....

I dunno.
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Postby aland » Wed Jun 30, 2004 11:20 am

I guess, grey because in parts it's difficult to know what's shuttered concrete and what's granite, consequently there's a consistancy inside and out.........a building hewn out of the landscape?

As to your broader point about debate, yes that's a good thing ...what depresses me most about the parliament is I now find myself unwilling to support it's design and consequently probably would be listed amongst it's detractors.

I have therefor resisted offers to talk about it on the radio, for example and in the press.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Thu Jul 01, 2004 3:50 pm

the boxy house story gets even funnier

http://news.scotsman.com/archive.cfm?id=752612004
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Postby aland » Thu Jul 01, 2004 4:04 pm

The same people who are part of docomomo are influential in Historic Scotland, did you know that, Paul?

wheels within wheels............. or boxes within boxes, in this case.


What does the previous owner have to do with it?

"we did not sell it to the highest bidder".......aye right.
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Postby FIN » Fri Jul 02, 2004 10:20 am

700,000...... jesus...that's a lot of money for a shitty box
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Postby aland » Fri Jul 02, 2004 3:43 pm

Property prices in Edinburgh are high at present, Fin. The city has just sold it's first £1,500,000 house.

Things are jumpin, alright with the fur coat but no knickers brigade in Auld Reekie.

They should remember that......... specially those from the city who are critical of the parliament, I guess.
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Postby FIN » Fri Jul 02, 2004 4:51 pm

yeah, i know the prices are high alan.personally i think the whole housing prices are daft at present.did they not learn from the '80's. my brother bought a house there last year or so. but the only rationale i have for that price is that they were going to redevelop.
what are the chances of them reversing the grading?
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Postby PVC King » Sat Jul 03, 2004 12:16 am

Fin

I'm amazed that it doesn't cost $5m to live across the road from you.

Alan I'm a little disapointed I always thought the quote was

All

fur coat & no knickers

but thats just a Galway man
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Postby FIN » Mon Jul 05, 2004 9:56 am

why? don't really understand where ur coming from there.
if you want to spend €5m to live across the road from me, i'm sure the neighbours won't really have a problem with that.
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