Glasgow, Scotland: Art-i-tecture as far as the I can see

 |   |  2 min read

Sir Harry Lauder: Stop yer ticking Jock (originally 1906)
Glasgow, Scotland: Art-i-tecture as far as the I can see

Locals call it “the Armadillo” but it's a rather obvious name for the striking building by the River Clyde, once the heart of Glasgow shipbuilding. With a suspicious similarity to a more squat Sydney Opera House, the Armadillo huddles almost fearfully in the shadow the enormous, now redundant, Finnieston Crane, a muscular reminder of the city's industrial past.

Designed by a son of this city, Sir Norman Foster – also responsible for London's “Gherkin” and the poetically beautiful bridge at Millau in France – the Armadillo, in reality the Clyde Auditorium, is one of many fascinating buildings in this Scottish city which will host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

IMG_1260Visitors to the Games will doubtless be enthralled by Zaha Hadid's $156 million makeover of the Riverside Transport Museum due to open in 2011, and those with a taste for the dark side may well be drawn at dusk to the Necropolis, the Victorian cemetery behind the Cathedral.

But there are any number of beautiful Georgian, Regency and Victorian buildings in the city.

IMG_1249“Aye, there's a lot to see when you look up,” says a passing policeman as I stand arching my back to take in some strange embellishments on a grand old building.

From unusual statuary to dramatically sweeping modern bridges across the Clyde, Glasgow is a visually surprising city. The Griffin Bar in Bath Street, not far from the Art Deco Beresford Apartments and the red sandstone Kings Theatre, has a beautiful Art Nouveau exterior.

But the chief attractions are buildings and interiors designed by another hometown boy, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928), most famous being the Glasgow School of Art which celebrated its century in 2009.

Although enhanced by the lightness of Mackintosh's Art Nouveau embellishments on the outside, within the walls are austere and solid, and the stairwells dark – but the library (no longer in use but open for guided tours) appears to float with a soothing lightness.IMG_1105

The Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street – lovingly recreated from the 1904 original – is where Mackintosh designed every detail for owner/patron Kate Cranston. Tea and cake here is a must.

At the School of Art you can purchase all things Mackintosh from posters to books of his life and work. I bought a lapel badge with a Mackintosh quote in his hard-to-read Art Nouveau typeface: “There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist”.

I wasn't sure if that summed up Glasgow's innovative architecture and design -- especially the daring new buildings and those which were so in their day -- but it seemed to.

And, being a Scot by birth and upbringing, I did note it wasn't too expensive.

For more articles on architecture start here, and on Scotland go here.


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Travels articles index

Copenhagen, Denmark: Beer, the breakfast of champions

Copenhagen, Denmark: Beer, the breakfast of champions

Here's what we know about a tour of a brewery, vineyard or distillery: The interesting bit — the only important bit, unless you are into fermentation or like digging your paws in hops... > Read more

Seoul, South Korea: Soul to Seoul, a bloggers journal 2008

Seoul, South Korea: Soul to Seoul, a bloggers journal 2008

Because I always travel cheap I usually forget that not everyone does. Sure I've stayed in some of the world's most luxurious and most private hotels -- but that's what happens unfortunately... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

TWO TRAINS RUNNIN', a doco by SAM POLLARD

TWO TRAINS RUNNIN', a doco by SAM POLLARD

This extensive 90 minute doco turns back time to America in the early Sixties when segregation was endemic, Northern white folk singers were becoming engaged by obscure and rare country blues by... > Read more

Willie Nelson: Nite Life (1962)

Willie Nelson: Nite Life (1962)

For many folks, Willie Nelson's wonderful album of standards Stardust, in the late Seventies, was a revelation . . . and unexpected. By then he had been so long associatied with the Outlaw... > Read more