For decades they have dominated the Glasgow sky line. But today, the city’s iconic Red Road flats, which once housed more than 5,000 people, are set to be demolished, bringing their chequered history to a close.

The six remaining blocks, owned by Glasgow Housing Association, are due to be brought down in a single controlled explosion which will see 2,500 people in the surrounding Springburn area evacuated from their homes.

The final block to be cleared before demolition was home to asylum seekers.

The demolition comes over a year after plans to blow-up the Red Road flats as part of the Commonwealth Games 2014 opening ceremony were shelved due to public outrage. The idea was branded deeply insensitive.

Court orders have been granted to remove people from the area who are threatening to form a “human shield” to halt the demolition. Protestors have claimed that the blasts are unsafe and fear that their homes may be damaged by the force of the explosives.

The ‘scheme in the sky’ was heralded as a utopian vision of the future when it was built in 1962. Designed by architect Sam Brunton, it included two 32-storey blocks, and housed families from Glasgow’s tenement slums.

But following a fire on the 23rd floor which killed a 12-year-old boy in 1977 many labelled them a hazard and families started to move out.

Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, said: “They were the highest residential flats in Europe when they were built and it was something for Glasgow to boast about.

“But there have been problems in Glasgow with high rise buildings.They were not renovated over a long period.”

Writing on the Conversation website, Vikki McCall, lecturer in social policy and housing at Stirling University, Gerry Mooney, senior lecturer in social policy at the Open University and Kisteen Paton, lecturer in urban sociology at Leeds University, said that residents had been stigimised in order to justify a political decision not to invest in the buildings.

“In truth, refurbishment and investment in previous years could have saved blocks like Red Road for future use,” they said. “If there was a failure in social housing, it was never inevitable. The same is true of the current housing crisis in many parts of the UK. The systematic running down of social housing over successive decades reflects the classed politics of housing. Where once we saw housing as a social need, now it as an investment, just like the land upon which it is built.”

Yesterday Springburn residents living near Red Road had mixed reactions, with many remembering it as a place with real community spirit.

John Redpath, a 44-year-old taxi driver who lived in the flats until he was 25, said: “I loved it. It was a fantastic place to be a kid.

“It was full of working class families and no-one could afford to go on holidays to Spain or anything like that so the women in the block started these coffee mornings. There was a small charge, and then the money would get put aside in a big jar and be spend on a trip to Troon or Saltcoats in the summer.

“I know it doesn’t sound like much but this was the 1970s and it was a really good thing for us. That was the kind of community spirit that you got in those flats.

“It annoys me when I hear people say that the flats were anti-social because back then they were anything but.”

However Daniel Dunne, a 57-year-old carer, who was in the first black to be cleared in 2010 has no nostalgia. “I lived in the flats for 20 years and it was ok when I first moved,” he said. “But that changed. When I got my letter telling me I was being moved I was delighted.”

In the early 2000s the rundown flats, which were becoming increasing hard to let, were used to house asylum seekers fleeing conflicts in countries including Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. The flats were also the site of a tragedy which saw a Russian family of three jump to their deaths in 2010.

One of the most famous residents of the flats was the so-called 'Birdman of Red Road'. Jamal Hamad was a Kurdish refugee who lived completely alone in one of the cleared high-rises while they were demolished around him with only his canaries for company.

Hassan Darasi, a refugee who fled persecution in Eritrea with his wife and five children, lived there from 2007-2010 and has mixed feelings about the demolition.

He said: “There was such a mix of nationalities living there and I made a lot of good friendships. For children it was a great place. They could play with each other on the landings. ”

One of the founder members of the YMCA residents association, Darasi said there was also a stigma to living in the building. “The bus only went to Red Road so as soon as you got on it, everyone immediately knew you were an asylum seeker. You didn’t always feel comfortable.”

The flats have captured the imagination of many. In 2006 they were the subject of Andrea Arnold’s haunting film ‘Red Road’ and a year later French high wire artist Didier Pasquette made a failed attempt to cross the 150m gap between two tower blocks.

Mitch Millar, an illustrator who documented the experiences of Red Road residents over a four year period, said: “Red Road is somewhere everyone from Glasgow knows. It’s how you know you’re leaving or coming in (to the city).

“Every flat looked the same but the experience of living there was so different. There were stories of children’s games, climbing out over their balconies to play 'claps' - where you let go of the railings and tried to clap as many times as you could, twenty stories up.

“There were the asylum seeker stories, and the gang stories. The truth is what Red Road was like very much depended on who you were and what type of life experience you were going through at the time.

“I know it has to come down for a host of reasons but I will be sad when I’m watching.”