The Glasgow Issue: Architects are stitching Glasgow back together

Clyde waterfront

Source:  Jonathan Farmer

Architects are adding a greater coherence to the city of Glasgow with a swathe of regeneration projects, writes Emily Booth, ahead of the AJ’s Glasgow-focussed content

I’ve got patchwork memories of Glasgow, once from a crammed weekend with a dear friend – the wind on Sauchiehall Street, lots of travelling in cabs (around that infernal ring-road), massive Victorian temples to wealth and power, boarded-up scrubland and wildflowers, brilliant curries. In the briskness and the breeze (no rain, as I recall) there was a palpable energy to the city, a chilly freedom.

So I’m not surprised that, out of all the complex emotions and experiences and challenges the city encapsulates, Paul Stallan, co-founder of Stallan-Brand, once wrote that ‘Glasgow makes you restless. Glasgow is my energy’. His essay will be a brilliant evocation of the pull and the push of the place.

Arriving at one clear narrative about Glasgow isn’t straightforward – and perhaps that’s where the city’s potential lies. Regeneration is stitching the city together, finds AJ reporter Gino Spocchia and, while a massive £2 billion-worth of flagship schemes were approved in 2020, the pivot now is towards town-centre housing and more green spaces.


Accessibility is firmly on the agenda – breaking down barriers to walking and cycling between vibrant but poorly connected neighbourhoods – and a range of new bridges are planned to link the city’s urban fabric.

There are so many projects on the go, it’s hard to fit them on one map and so many creative local architecture practices, we can only publish a small selection of their work in our special Glasgow-focussed issue. What emerges is a clear drive to repurpose spaces in a low-budget, high impact way, celebrating the city as a testbed for modest adaptive reuse that responds quickly to people’s needs.

As the AJ’s Fran Williams writes in her excellent appraisal of Collective Architecture’s retrofit of a former printworks in north Glasgow into a co-working hub, events space and canteen: ‘It’s not the large projects that are fuelling change, it’s the smaller, grassroots organisations like Agile City, making tiny but important incremental steps.’

The giants of the cityscape are crucial (as our revisit to ZHA’s Riverside Museum will attest) but perhaps joining them up in a liveable city is even more important.

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