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Glasgow Day 5 - Merchant City Architectural Walk

Master of Architectural Placements. One Window Tax Closes, another Tax Window Opens.

sunny 9 °C

While there's little doubt that Glasgow is small compare to Paris. Sure, London, Paris or even the smaller cousin city Edinburgh has many more buildings that are far grander. Glasgow is therefore quantitatively inferior than either Edinburgh or Paris, but qualitatively it has its beauty and charm. In some way it outshines the contenders I mentioned. I should mention that while Edinburgh seems to be busier (with tourists), and has grander buildings, it's essentially one street - the Royal Mile - old town.

There have been some friendly rivalries between Glasgow and Edinburgh. These neighbouring English city rivalries are all too common, like Sydney and Melbourne (in Australia), Christchurch and Ackland (in NZ), etc.

At least one of the thing that I find Glasgow arguably outdoes the other great European cities is their strategic placement of buildings. Don't get me wrong, Paris is probably the best example of how landmarks could be strategically placed to maximise visual impact.

The Historical Axis in Paris that I discussed in great length in this article shows such masterful placement of architectural elements within the city to create great vista (and symbolic representation). This is just the best example in the numerous instances of such strategic positioning of public architecture.

Having said that, how could I still possibly say that a relatively smaller-scale city of Glasgow could measure up to Paris? Its very strength lies in its smaller size, and simplicity. Any kind of architectural or city planning theme would be clearly expressed without being lost in the patchworks of cluttering landmarks.

One of the strategic placement I'm referring to the positioning of a prominent public building at the intersection of a 'T' junction where the building facade faces squarely down the street. And many centres of cross roads also exploited for best visual effects. The best and most well know examples are the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art and the St. George Tron Church. The Tolbooth and Tron Steeples are also served as great examples.

Ingram Street Sign, Merchant City, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Ingram Street lies in the heart of the Merchant City
To see this theme being beautifully orchestrated, take a walk down Trongate St and continue into Argyle St. Start your walk on the eastern end from High St. As you walk westwards, take a look towards your right. You'll be looking at public building locating on Ingram St, which is considered the centre of the city. You would be rewarded with nice architecure that look back at you squarely from Ingram St looking like a cowboy ready for a quick draw with you (shoot them with your camera). I.e. the building's centre line is nicely aligned with the street's centre line, giving it a nice symmetry and focal points. (There's nothing interesting on the left to look at as it's the southern fringe of the city, or as the cops would say, "Move on! There's nothing to see here").

Statue of George Hutcheson, Hutcheson Hall, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
George Hutcheson

Hutchesons Hall, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Hutchesons Hall, view from Trongate St
with statues of Hutcheson Bros on 2 sides

Statue of Thomas Hutcheson, Hutcheson Hall, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Thomas Hutcheson

Ramshorn Kirk, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Ramshorn Kirk ('kirk' = 'Church' in Scottish)
staring down Candleriggs St, viewed from Trongate St
The Ramshorn Kirk was bought by University of Strathclyde, and is renamed to Ramshorn Theatre to reflect its new function.

Arches behind the Glasgow City Chamber, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Stately and imposing arches behind the Glasgow City Chamber
running on John St
Very little of this could be seen in London or Edinburgh. This usually happens when a city is continuously evolving, and ending up with irregular patchworks of building placements. Glasgow is given me the impression that the various building was being carefully placed as part of a grander city planning. Glasgow received the City of Architecture and Design award in 1999. Well, if they didn't get one, I'll surely happy to hand one out to them.

Another thing suggests to me that this placement is all part of the city design is the that the street names are usually named after the public buildings that run off it. E.g. St George Tron Church faces down George St. Hutcheson St runs off the Hutchesons Hall. To name just 2 examples.

Remember too that all the revenues that radiating from Arc de Triomphe Etoile is all part of city planning. something so symmetrical couldn't occur with the natural evolution of a city. It's happened by design, not by accident. As far as the percentage of such strategic placement of landmarks are concerned, Glasgow easily far exceeds that of Paris.

Another thing that I consider a plus because of the city small size, it's tourist number. You won't have to worry too much of the tourist queues, people

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Posted by FrancisQ 22:36 Archived in Scotland Tagged architecture glasgow merchant_city Comments (0)

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