Braw Concrete : Post-war architecture in Glasgow
by Peter Halliday + Alan Stewart
Taking a long hard look at Glasgow’s post-war architecture
Our latest book invites a reappraisal of Glasgow’s post war architecture
November 2022 - if you were to wander down any Glasgow street and pick a few people at random, it is unlikely that any of them would hold much affection for the city’s post-war concrete buildings. Yet Glasgow is home to some of the most audacious and courageous architecture of the mid-century era.
In those ideologically infused years, the city played host to a cadre of young architects who clearly regarded their work as a noble endeavour. Perhaps naïve, perhaps misguided, perhaps with an improbable point-of-view on what was best for the Glasgow and its citizens. But they plainly believed that, through their work, they were putting in place the institutions and infrastructure that would befit a modern, progressive city.
It was all about building a better world – quite literally.'
Braw Concrete, published by The Modernist Society, is a new book that encourages people to look afresh at Glasgow’s mid-century architecture and the spirit of optimism that gave birth to them. Coming hot on the heels of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP 26, which Glasgow played host to a year ago, it also questions the environmental consequences of sweeping away perfectly serviceable buildings which could otherwise last for thousands of years.
The book, by Peter Halliday and Alan Stewart, is an unlikely collaboration.
Alan Stewart is an architect who studied at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, lives and works in Glasgow, and has spent many years walking, cycling, and taking photographs of the city’s streetscapes. Peter Halliday is a writer who visited for the first time in 2021 and was immediately beguiled by what he saw. The two of them decided to capture and share their respective views of the city – the brash observations of the wide-eyed visitor, set side-by-side with the more considered gaze of the long-term resident.
Over 144 pages, the book takes a meandering, east-to-west journey through central-Glasgow, dropping off along the way to appraise some of the most emblematic concrete buildings. The collection of photographs, snapped over the course of a year, seeks to capture their spirit, their current condition, and the way the everyday life of the city goes on around them. And the accompanying text gives an insight into their creation, their significance, and the cast of characters behind them.
Whatever you may think of the buildings, you would have to agree that the book itself is a thing of beauty, with more than 120 lush colour photographs, reproduced on sumptuous matt art paper, hard-backed, and bound in tactile linen.
Words and pictures by
Colour and B+W