I really wish that when I was a teenager I knew how much I would like buildings as an adult. If I had of known then I would have tried much much harder with art and design. I know that having artistic skill is one of those things you have or you don’t, but I can’t help but think that as a teenager perhaps I could have learnt? Either way, I don’t have it in me to be an actual architect, infact I suspect that it might actually be rather dull once it becomes an actual career, like many things are prone to be.
All that aside, what is true is that I really enjoy looking at buildings and trying to find out when they come from, and learn a little about their style. Having the internet at my fingertips really helps with this interest, as does living in a city like Glasgow. It has a lot of its old building still intact, unlike big cities in the south which flattened during the war. It was a port town in the industrial period, and I’ve heard it called the second port of the empire, which means that there has been a wealth of global influence coming into the city for years and years. It’s these old buildings which usually make me take note the most, I live in a tenement building which I think was built around 1890 (judging by this one nearby) and walk by buildings of a similar age on a daily basis. When I first moved to Glasgow I was particularly taken by buildings designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson
Recently, however, it’s the more modern buildings which have been catching my eye. The other day I found myself reading about a building called St.Peters Seminary at Cardross, just outside Glasgow. Before I knew it I was stuck in a wikipedia chasm, it was midnight and I’d been reading about modernist architecture for hours.
I ended up reading about one particular architectural firm from Glasgow which was active between the 1920’s and 1980’s called Gillespie, Kidd and Coia. This firm had a deal with the Roman Catholic church to build the new churches which would be required for the new satellite towns of Glasgow which were built to house the cities growing population and to get families out of inner city housing. They built churches in Cumbernauld, East Kilbride and Dumbarton to name but a few places, also the schools and hospitals which these growing towns would need.
From my very limited and internet based (read: dubious reliability)reading of modernist architecture of that era, it would seem that buildings were often designed to perform a function, without unnecessary embellishments. They had clean, smooth lines and were made using modern materials, in keeping with a general theme of modern art. To me, this seems completely at odds with what a church should look like. However I can’t help but think that this approach to building churches is fitting to the era in which they were built. People were moving to new towns, away from inner city squalor to fresh modern buildings, and it seems fitting that their churches, schools and hospitals should fit in with this change. A new building, within a new town, to fulfil an age old function.
Another reason which I ended up reading about the buildings around Glasgow by Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, was because the Cardross Seminary is a particularly interesting derelict building.
I found that photo at http://www.glasgowarchitecture.co.uk where you can read all about how Cardross Seminary, how it got to be so derelict and what is going to happen to it.
I generally like derelict buildings, there is something wonderful and ugly about them. Also they tend to be home to plenty of graffiti, whilst sometime totally crap, sometimes it is amazing. I spent hours on Flickr looking through the photos of Cardross Seminary which you can find here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/stpeters/pool/.
Also, the website about Gillespie, Kidd and Coia (http://www.gillespiekiddandcoia.com/home.html) provided me with lots of interesting information, including that I had missed out on an exhibition. Damn! However, more exciting was the realisation that some of the buildings designed by them are very near to where I live, or where friends of mine do. Perhaps, on one of my days off, if it doesn’t rain, I might take a wander to see them, and appreciate something which I have been reading about on the internet. Maybe on my way there, I’ll see another building which piques my interest in architecture.