Monday, 21 February 2005

The big bang

So the residents of Cumbernauld want the whole place blown up, and I can't say that I'm surprised. It's been quite a while since I visited Cumbernauld but this certainly rings a bell:
The town centre was described as "a rabbit warren on stilts, a sprawling, angular concrete complex that is soulless, inaccessible, like something from Eastern Europe".
When I read this piece I immediately thought of blogging about Cumbernauld being a perfect example of the kind of disaster that we get when the state gets involved in housing. The Scotsman's George Kerevan beat me to it:
Then it all went pear-shaped after the Second World War. The mood of the time was state intervention, state planning and direction from the top down. Architects were out, planners were in. The age of the megastructure had arrived. Adam Smith was replaced by Karl Marx. Even worse, Robert Adam was replaced by Geoffrey Copcutt.
And ideas have consequences:
The big idea of the planners was to dismantle Glasgow, the Second City of the Empire, and decamp its citizens to concrete camps in the countryside, called new towns. Pol Pot later adopted the same plan in Cambodia. In due course, through the 1950s, one third of Glasgow’s population was moved out of the city. Of course, with the fall in population, Glasgow’s economy imploded. But as socialist planners have noted from time immemorial, you can’t make a utopian omelette without breaking a few human eggs.
Kerevan thinks that Cumbernauld should be converted into some kind of architectural museum as warning to others.

No, the residents are correct: blow it up. And while we're at it let's blow up East Kilbride as well. I got trapped there yesterday in its endless system of roundabouts and inadequately signed junctions.

Where's Howard Roark when you need him?

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

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24 February 2007, 20:26:33 GMT
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Geoff Matthews
I lived in both towns briefly (EK and Cumbernauld). Endless streets of concrete tenements, souless buildings. The old town areas were charming, but the 'new' arcitecture was hideous.

27 February 2005, 06:38:25 GMT
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David Ellams
When the collectivists stop threatening us and put down their weapons, Howard Roak or his intellectual heirs will return.

21 February 2005, 18:57:55 GMT
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David Farrer
Yes, still here. Still ugly.

21 February 2005, 18:14:45 GMT
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Has Edinburgh still got the St James Centre? If so, exterminate, exterminate...

21 February 2005, 17:01:42 GMT