THEY are among some of the most controversial buildings in Glasgow and people either love them or loathe them.

From the Stakis Ingram Hotel and Empire House in Sauchiehall Street, to the Savoy Centre and the Ministry of Defence’s Kentigern House, they stand out as examples of post-war concrete construction in the city.
Along with the Bourdon Building, Queen Margaret Union, the Adam Smith Building, Rankine Building and Hillhead Library, they all feature in a new book which celebrates Glasgow’s mid-century architecture while encouraging people to take a fresh look at some of the city’s brutalist buildings.

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Braw Concrete was co-authored by the Glasgow-based architect Alan Stewart, the director at Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands who studied at the Mackintosh School of Architecture; and Peter Halliday, writer, photographer, and enthusiast of post-war architecture.
It showcases some of the most iconic sites of the city, seeking to capture the spirit of everyday life in Glasgow through its architecture.

HeraldScotland: Love them or loathe them - Hillhead library is an example of brutalist architectureLove them or loathe them - Hillhead library is an example of brutalist architecture (Image: Newsquest)
Brutalism is said to be a reaction against the nostalgia of architecture in the 1940s. The term “New Brutalism” was first used by British architects Alison and Peter Smithson for their pioneering approach to design which leading Scottish architect, Professor Alan Dunlop, had links to as a young architect.
Professor Dunlop, whilst appreciating what can be done working with concrete, believes Kentigern House on Brown Street, off Argyle Street, is one of the ugliest buildings in Glasgow.
“It is a building that takes everything and doesn’t give anything back to the street,” said Professor Dunlop. “The thing that ties the featured buildings together is obviously concrete.
“Architects love concrete because of its range, ubiquity and fluidity, but in the same breath is hated by Glaswegians because it becomes rain-stained, particularly in the west of Scotland. There is no other building material that can give you such scope. 
“Ironically, the Bourdon building, the home of the Mackintosh School of Architecture where I was trained, is listed and it is one I hate. It is an interesting home for the school of architecture because as soon as you leave the building you know it is something you don’t want to design.
“Some of these buildings might have become landmarks but that’s mainly because it is so difficult to get rid of them. Concrete is a great material, but it’s also a pretty robust structure that is hard to demolish.”

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Following the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26 in Glasgow, Braw Concrete also calls into question the environmental consequences of the city being pressured to demolish some of these perfectly serviceable buildings – which would have lasted thousands of years – due to their aesthetic.

HeraldScotland: Offices and bus station combined at the former Anderston CentreOffices and bus station combined at the former Anderston Centre (Image: Newsquest) There are also investigations ongoing into concrete alternatives.
 Co-author Peter Halliday said: “If you were to wander down a 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.
“The architects who designed these buildings believed that, through their work, they were putting in place the institutions and infrastructure that would befit a modern, progressive city. This book encompasses the spirit of optimism that gave birth to these buildings. It was all about building a better world – literally.”
 Jack Hale, co-founder of publishers Modernist Society, said brutalist architecture can be divisive, but there’s no denying the buildings are a significant part of Glasgow’s heritage. 
“Whatever you may think of them, you would have to agree that the book itself is a thing of beauty and a fitting tribute,” he said. “We hope it helps people to appreciate the value of this period of Glasgow’s architectural history.”


Brutalist architecture’s concrete has become part of the fabric of the city 

TO the untrained eye they might simply look like eyesores and badly designed buildings lacking in imagination but Glasgow is home to what are classed as brutalist buildings.
Even the name sounds harsh and does not evoke the imagination in the way the eras of Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture might have done.
Nonetheless, what might be considered to be some of Glasgow’s ugliest buildings should perhaps be among the city’s most celebrated designs.

HeraldScotland: Kentigern House has been described as one of Glasgow's ugliest buildingsKentigern House has been described as one of Glasgow's ugliest buildings (Image: Newsquest)
Brutalist buildings are characterised by a minimalist aesthetic that showcases the buildings’ bare materials and their structural elements with little decorative design.
The style commonly makes use of exposed, unpainted concrete or brick, angular geometric shapes and a predominantly monochrome colour palette.
One brutalist example is Kentigern House which opened in 1986 after being built by the Property Services Agency for the Ministry of Defence. 
The storeys of the large, tiered, sandstone building recede inwards in a stepped facade. The effect was to minimise traffic noise, and also to shade windows from the sun.
At the entrance is a bronze panel by artist William Scott commemorating scenes from the life of St Kentigern – or St Mungo – Glasgow’s Patron Saint.
When work began on the site in 1981, it was described as the largest office development outside London and costs amounted to £19 million.
In the late 1960s Sir Reo Stakis’ name was everywhere. From restaurants to hotels, the family was recognised as leaders in the Scottish hospitality industry.
However, it wasn’t just the name that stood out as, in 1968, what some felt was a monstrosity appeared between some of the city’s oldest buildings in Ingram Street.
Just a few years later the Savoy Centre sprung up on Sauchiehall Street. It was almost entirely covered in textured concrete cladding and had an elevated walkway, which is now closed, stretching over the traffic on Renfrew Street, allowing the building to be entered directly on to the first floor. 
For some the disappearance of brutalist designs in recent years has been welcome. The Bluevale and Whitevale towers, once the tallest buildings in Scotland, massive formal rectangles outlined against the sky over Dennistoun, are now no more. 
Typographical House, a proud, compact building of poured concrete and glass by the Clyde is also gone.
And there would be few who would shed a tear over the loss of  the Anderson Centre. The combination of a bus station, offices and a supermarket, it was one of the first to go.

Braw Concrete is released on November 4