A look at how post-war slum clearances changed the face of Hutchesontown in Glasgow…

Hutchesontown C, Gorbals, Glasgow, 1965

Image (enlarge): Hutchesontown C, Gorbals, Glasgow, 1965
Architect: Sir Basil Spence Glover & Ferguson
© Henk Snoek / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Image from RIBApix

Originally an affluent Glasgow suburb, by the 1950s the Gorbals comprised 62 acres of slums with some of the worst residential conditions in Europe. Basil Spence was commissioned to produce 400 new dwellings intended to combat the problems of tenement living.

Inspired by Le Corbusier’s Unité de Habitation, Spence designed two concrete blocks of maisonettes, elevated on splayed pilotis and punctuated by double-height balconies that prompted the nickname “The Hanging Gardens of the Gorbals”. Initially successful as families revelled in their new-found space, the perceived brutality of the high-rise environment combined with the social deprivation of the area led to the building’s demolition in 1993.

Article by Justine Sambrook
Curator, Robert Elwall Photographs Collection, British Architectural Library, RIBA

About Wilson Yau
I work for the British Architectural Library at the RIBA as part of a team to share news, images and information online about the activities of the Library and the fascinating items we have in our architectural collections – it contains over four million items, so there's plenty to see! If you’re curious about what we do at the Library and with the collections, or want to discover the latest about our education programmes, public events and exhibitions at the RIBA, please visit www.architecture.com

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1 Comment
  1. Douglas Cruickshank

    June 16, 2014

    Gorbals as a “Originally an affluent Glasgow suburb” is very wrong – read this for more information on the whole thing.


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