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When brutalism works

THE brutalist school of architecture that was so prevalent during the 1960s has had more than its share of critics.

We need only examine the fate of the Red Road flats in Glasgow for confirmation of that fact. But they were born during a much-needed assault on slum dwellings and conceived at a time when the nation was facing a critical housing shortage.

Many other examples of the brutalist style are similarly unloved; though they communicate strength and functionality, they rarely inspire respect, far less awe. One exception, though, is surely the South Lanarkshire Council headquarters in Hamilton. The 17-storey concrete building celebrates its 50th anniver­sary next week. It is listed by Historic Scotland and this newspaper's art critic described it at the time as "one of the best modern buildings on the country".

It is still admired by many, including the council's property manager, Graham Forsyth, who says it provides a fine workplace, and boasts a debating chamber whose set-up is designed to be about finding consensus.

It is good to see the building has stood the test of time. It is most definitely fit for purpose.

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