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Glasgow presentation at Scotland + Venice 2014

Modernity embedded in city the focus at world’s biggest architecture festival 

Visions of architectural utopia, and a radical – unrealised – 1940s plan to create a modern Glasgow of vertical towers and streamlined transport hubs, while demolishing landmarks, go under the spotlight in new research linked to the Venice Architecture Biennale.

Scotland + Venice 2014 project ‘Past + Future’ centres on the modernist architecture style, as applied in Scotland between 1950 and 1970. Four architect-led teams, under the direction of award-winning practice Reiach and Hall, are participating in a combined month-long residency in Venice, linked to the British Pavilion.

The second team, currently in residency, has focused on Glasgow’s version of modern architecture in the mid-twentieth century, as applied to its historic grid iron planned urban core.

Among the case studies of key buildings from the period are the Glasgow Dental Hospital, the Anderston Centre and the College of Building and Printing. The unrealised 1945 Bruce Plan is explored, plus the Highways Plan of 1965.

Influences cited range from the 1938 Glasgow Empire Exhibition and Le Corbusier, to New York’s United Nations building and the skyscraper Pirelli Tower in Milan.

The team presents research and content, including the last interview with the late Professor Andy MacMillan, former Head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture, in one of a series of specially-produced newspapers being distributed in Venice.

Over the course of the month, all four teams will engage with the international architecture community. Invited speakers will use the research to generate new ideas and thinking about architecture in a modern Scotland at four consecutive weekly events in Venice. The second, tomorrow (Friday), will discuss the Glasgow paper.

The initial research and outcomes of the debates in Venice will be brought back to Scotland in an exhibition and events programme curated by Architecture and Design Scotland at The Lighthouse in Glasgow in February and March 2015.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said:

“’Past + Future’ seeks to trace the evolution of a changing post-war Scotland by reflecting on modernity in Scottish architecture, the values that it sought to represent, and the optimism and motivation of architects to improve the lives of the ordinary citizen.

“The four teams involved have explored how the architectural heritage of this period became an integral part of the vision for post-war change in different parts of Scotland.

“The Scotland + Venice project serves as a valuable record of developing technologies and social and cultural attitudes and intends to open up debate both at home, and further afield, about what a modern architecture was and what it might be in the future.”

Amanda Catto, Portfolio Manager for Visual Arts at Creative Scotland, said:

“Creative Scotland is delighted to be working with British Council and the Scottish Government in commissioning Reiach and Hall to provide Scotland’s contribution to the prestigious Venice Architecture Biennale with an examination of Scotland's modernist past.

“Through its research this project aims to spark a debate about architecture in Scotland, using recent histories – both national and international - to inform and inspire future thinking.”

Lloyd Anderson, Director of British Council Scotland, said:

“We’re delighted to support a group of Scotland’s leading architectural practitioners and scholars address Rem Koolhaas’ brief for the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale. Focusing on architectural modernity in Scotland, we look forward to seeing how this rich theme will manifest itself at the Biennale and how, in turn, the dialogue and debate will continue among Scotland’s architectural community when the project returns to The Lighthouse in Glasgow in 2015.”

Neil Gillespie, Design Director at Reiach and Hall, said:

“Group two concerned themselves with Glasgow. In truth Glasgow is Scotland’s only city that approaches a metropolis. It is marked by strong Victorian development of a Georgian mercantile grid. The group have explored in some depth how the architects and developers of the 1960s took the Glasgow grid to literally new heights. It is a fascinating and revealing piece of research.’’

Notes To Editors

The 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale is curated by Rem Koolhaas and entitled Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014.

The Scottish project is being supported by a partnership between the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and the British Council, and follows on from a successful collaboration in 2010 and 2012.

Reiach and Hall was selected in May from a shortlist of six by an independent panel. A project budget of £68,000 has been provided to Reiach and Hall to deliver the project by the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland.

Each team comprises a practising architect, an academic and students. They have each explored a past history in the post-war period, 1950-1970.

Presentations are: ‘Being There’ on October 3 with guest Toby Paterson; ‘Embedded Modernism’ on October 10 with Miles Glendinning; ‘Land Works’ on October 17 and discussions with Matzine; ‘Outsiders’ on October 24 and discussions with Emmanuel Petit, Dirk van den Heuvel and Sven Olov Wallenstein.

Project newspapers will be readable online at

The Glasgow newspaper can be accessed at

To enquire about images, please contact

Twitter hashtags are #ScotlandandVenice2014 and #PastAndFuture

The group behind ‘Embedded Modernism is: Alan Hooper, Architect, Programme Leader, Department of Architecture, The Glasgow School of Art; David Page, Architect at Page/Park Architects, Visiting Professor, University of Strathclyde; Andrew Frame, University of Strathclyde; Christopher Dove, The Glasgow School of Art; Fraser Maitland, University of Strathclyde; Jamie Whelan, The Glasgow School of Art.

The project residency has been enabled through a partnership with the British Pavilion which is currently staging a major exhibition, A Clockwork Jerusalem. This explores how the international influences of modernism became mixed with long standing British sensibilities.

In a Scotland + Venice 2014 linked event, the first of two public symposiums to explore key questions around the rebuilding of the fire-damaged Mackintosh Library will be led by Glasgow School of Art in Venice on 18 October. The second event will be held in Glasgow next spring

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