Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The tragedy of Custom House Quay

look no cars!
I was almost reduced to tears this morning when I read that the Custom House Quay development in Glasgow had been mothballed. This is a major setback for Glasgow in its efforts to make the Clyde the envy of the world although with Glasgow Harbour, Specific Quay, Braehead Shopping Centre (big tick there) and the City Inn Hotel it is already on a par with Paris, Hamburg or Copenhagen. Still by the time I finished my cornflakes I felt a bit better as my mind analysed the project from an expert planner's perspective.

Now I haven't time to write a full appreciation of this but RMJM, the geniuses who came up with this fabulous proposal, have done an amazing job. Looking at the top picture, you actually can't see the river at all - what a great idea considering so many people always say what an uninspiring stretch of water it is. Another thing - the cars have almost disappeared and that's an amazing achievement - isn't it!
Look at this second picture and you will see how well the new architecture provides a backdrop to this new plaza with all those toffs and fancy looking folk strutting their stuff - not the Glasgow I remember but I can live with it. And once again, no cars or river views which is great though I don't understand why they kept that old building crumbling away in the background.
This third picture shows how the new development has magically brought an amazing number of boats right up the river to the city centre - canal barges too! Fantastic considering that the river is currently barely navigable. But really the main thing is the stupendous design of these towers. What a great way to show them off - in a line along the river front - a brilliant idea!

It's a tragedy that this has been mothballed due to an Australian going bankrupt. There is never a good time to go bankrupt and I'm sure his wife and family are very disappointed. Let's hope that the heart of this great development can live on in another body so three cheers for RMJM and their brilliant crew of designers!


Anonymous said...

As a town planner you are in no way educated enough or qualified enough to make comment on architecture. You have obviously come from the great planning tradition of using primary school symetry books as a rule of thumb. Glorious.

Dave Thompson said...

Thanks Anonymous for your contribution to the debate and a very good point you raise. By the way, the primary school I went to taught us to spell symmetry with two 'm's. With every best wish - Dave T

Dawnp42 said...

I'm currently writing a research paper on this area of Glasgow. It's good to read about other peoples opinion on the RMJM proposal. However I cannot decide whether you genuinely think very highly of this proposal or whether I detect a hint of sarcasm? It's difficult to read the tone.