It’s always hard to talk about the downsides of something you care about, because you love it, and you’re proud of it, and if anyone else slags it off, you’ll rush to its defence, teeth bared. But my love for Glasgow, and yours, can never hide the problems – the ones that lie deep in its architecture, its design, and its development – and the first step to fixing them is to start to talk honestly and clearly about what’s wrong, deep, deep down.

Someone who’s been doing this recently is Rory Olcayto, who gave an excellent speech to this year’s convention of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and has just written about it in the Architects’ Journal. Rory is a writer and critic on architecture who knows Glasgow well and his description of the city in its current state was striking. Glasgow, he said, has run aground. It is going nowhere. It is a shipwreck.

He chose the shipwreck analogy for good reason: Glasgow is stuck in a horrible place with no immediate prospect of moving. The built environment is sick. Its tenements need billions of investment. Much of the heritage is falling apart (e.g. the Egyptian Halls) or has been tarmacked over (George Square). And to top it all, we still have a great big, ugly motorway running right through the middle.

When I spoke to Rory, he said the essential problem is that Glasgow is caught in the overlay of two visions: the original idea of the Victorian city and the development and demolition of the 50s and 60s. In Rory’s view, Glasgow is the world’s pre-eminent Victorian city (absolutely, it is). He also believes no other urban landscape matters to Scotland in the way Glasgow does and to prove his point, he asks this question: what would Scotland be without Glasgow? Answer: Luxembourg (with no offence to Luxembourg).

Just to be clear, Rory isn’t the sort who wants everything put back the way it was, although he is against changing things unnecessarily. George Square, for example, he says worked perfectly well 30 years ago. He also says there should be a presumption against demolition in the city, including of its high rises, so that the wrecking ball can’t strike again without us thinking it through first.

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But as part of a 15-point plan he presented in his speech to the RIAS, Rory also has some other modern ideas for salvaging the shipwreck, one of which would be an international competition to design a Glasgow tenement for the 21st century. Tenements work: they’re high density, they’re mixed demographics, and they can be beautiful as well as functional, so coming up with a modern version makes a lot of sense.

And there are other, more radical ideas in Rory’s plan too, including the most radical but logical of all: undo the M8, which is always at the heart of Glasgow’s problems. Try and cross the city and you’ll constantly hit a barrier caused by the great welt that was cut into the city in the 60s. Getting rid of it would be easier said than done, but Rory’s contention is that we need to say it anyway and keep saying it.

One of the obvious problems would be the cost of it all, which is one of the reasons Rory also suggests the establishment of a new metropolitan region which would take in the suburbs that currently pay nothing towards its upkeep. It could also mean a new heavyweight mayor with the far-reaching powers they would need to get things done.

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Some of what Rory suggests is longer-term than other bits of his plan, but all together it is a coherent response to the problems of a city that’s famous and beautiful but also troubled and ugly. Rory told me he was watching the BBC crime drama Shetland the other day and spotted Glasgow’s Wyndford flats posing as London. Famously, the city has also stood in for American cities in movies. Hollywood certainly knows its charms.

But instead of doing that, says Rory – instead of “dressing up in drag” – why can’t Glasgow start being itself again? The pre-eminent Victorian city that’s been marked and scarred by seven misguided decades. A city that’s great but broken. A city that needs to talk about its mistakes, then set about fixing them. If we are a shipwreck, admit it. Then, we move.