‘Red Road’ documents the blowdown of Glasgow’s Red Road Towers in on the 11th of October 2015.
The Red Road Towers demolition could be considered as another phase in Glasgow’s tradition of radical, clean-sweep renewal of ‘bad housing’ – stretching back to the sweeping redevelopments of ‘slum housing’ in the late 19th century and their replacement by Baronial tenements, and was continued the by previous round of mass demolition in the 1960s and 70s where tens of thousands of Glaswegians were decanted from slums into new schemes and high-rise flat developments representing a utopian vision for social housing seen as the solution for some of the worst slum conditions in Europe at the time.
This process of regeneration left some parts of the city, such as the Gorbals, as multi-layered ‘palimpsests’ of redevelopment. These became ‘memory landscapes’ uncannily similar to post-1945 German cities, scattered with the traces of successive attacks on the city’s ‘diseased’ fabric, including the blowing-up of Basil Spence’s monumental Hutchesontown C slab blocks in 1993.
Red Road represented a utopian vision for social housing and was seen as the solution for some of the worst slum conditions in Europe at the time only to turn into the very same playground for terror.
Is the liquidation of Glasgow’s highest blocks of multi-storey flats anything more than a continuation of this time-honoured civic culture of collective progress through mass destruction?