Sir, – This week we learnt that Muriel Gray wants to rebuild the ruined School of Art in Glasgow.
It is now the second time that this building has burned down.
The first rebuild was understandable, but now?
The building is a total ruin and it would cost millions to rebuild this chaos.
In what kind of world is Mrs Gray living?
I think it is near to perverse to pour so much money into what is effectively a bottomless pit.
The NHS is in dire straits, councils have to cut costs at every corner, police and nurses are under paid, and poverty is rife over the whole of Scotland.
Children go to school without any breakfast and disabled people are being stripped of their benefits.
Care homes are shut, care for people is being diminished and yet here we have a prominent figure who wants to spend millions of pounds on a building.
I do understand that art is important.
At its very best, the rebuild of this school of art can only be no more than a copy of the original by Charles Rennie MacIntosh.
Why on earth put so much money into a copy?
I bet that if Rennie MacIntosh was still alive today, seeing the current state Scotland is in right now caused by austerity, even he would shake his head and say stop.
He would surely agree that we should put people before buildings.
I really do hope that our Government in Holyrood will stop this folly.
Gompertz is on the money
Sir, – It is not often that I rave about a review written by the BBC arts editor Will Gompertz – I find his boffin style a little too contrived – but he certainly hits the mark with his recent review of Dundee’s waterfront V&A.
In what was a very balanced and positive article which uses the epithets “terrific” and “world class” to describe Japanese architect Kengo Kuma’s structure, I found Gompertz’s closing comments the end most poignant.
“Oh dear. What a shame. What a missed opportunity,” Gompertz laments, and with good reason.
Only Dundee could spend £80 million on such a breathtaking and ground-breaking building and then, in Gompertz’s words, “make it invisible with cheap and cheerless eyesores”.
“That building”, as many Dundonians refer to it, is the abominable work-in-progress across from the new railway station and the main reason Gompertz’s eye was drawn away from the V&A.
It is, I am afraid, at risk of becoming the main talking point.
I believe the plan is for shops and restaurants, hotel rooms and office blocks.
Don’t we already have enough retail outlets, eateries and visitor accommodation?
As for office blocks, the Technology Park is full of buildings standing empty and crying out for refurbishment.
Why not regenerate that area, and finally put to an end that eyesore of broken glass and boarded up windows welcoming visitors from the west?
Don’t Dundee City Council officials realise that first impressions count?
If Gompertz was on the nail with his assessment of “that building”, he was – in my view – unfair with his verdict on the railway station and Sleeperz Hotel.
Admittedly, they don’t deserve any awards for their clip-on profile-tile design but to say it’s “one of the ugliest buildings around” is a bit harsh.
That said, I do think though we should heed Gompertz’s plea.
He might be based in a different country but he certainly has his finger on the local pulse when he implores us that it’s not too late to call in a “design tsar”, someone who knows what they are doing and has a lasting vision – perhaps Kuma himself – to totally rethink the waterfront space.
In short, we must act now before the V&A is cast permanently in the shadow of a vulgar office block.
City must grasp the opportunity
Sir, – The V&A is a great museum, a vote of confidence in a resurgent Dundee and most of all a jaw dropping addition to the river frontage.
Whatever your view of it as architecture, and I have heard a variety of opinions, it is inescapably confident.
This is a city with braggadocio, with the guts to get things done and to inspire future generations to aspire to greatness.
What a tragedy it is, therefore, to realise that none of this feeling of confidence or optimism has made its way into the souls of those responsible for the waterfront development so crucial to the future ambitions of the city.
The new station and the hotel above it are awful.
Who believes that the V&A will survive as a symbol of hope when completely hidden from view by new office towers of consummate mediocrity?
Is architecture actually forbidden in Dundee after the V&A?
My mind was completely blown the other day when it was pointed out to me that of all the new buildings west of Discovery Point the only one with any architectural merit was the Tesco supermarket.
There cannot be another jurisdiction even in the UK where those appalling flats would have made it off the drawing board – and why are they absolutely on the road?
Does no one understand the concept of a waterfront with space for people?
Come on Dundee, don’t throw it all away.
Stiffen the backbone and tell the developers: “You are very welcome here if you put the effort into something we can all be proud of”.
Dundee has a rich history of splendid architecture from many periods, a great deal of which is languishing in need of rescue such as the old Custom House which is a superb building, superbly located but derelict for years due to the lack of an imaginative restoration plan.
It needs to be a new building in its original shell but for that to happen the city planners have to allow their imagination and courage out of the bag.
Otherwise it is going to become an increasingly grim reminder of how wasteful we are.
A new way to tackle austerity
Sir, – I note that protesters had spoken of their wish to disrupt the opening weekend of the V&A.
It appears they were seeking to link continued austerity to the cost of the museum and wider waterfront project.
Chief among those with an axe to grind seemed to be Lochee Labour councillors Charlie Malone and Michael Marra.
I would suggest to these two doughty class warriors that they take a leaf from the book of the Democratic Unionist Party.
The DUP received a “bribe” of £1 billion to keep the Tories in power in 2016.
Why doesn’t Scottish Labour similarly demand an amount of say £3 billion pro rata, as reward for keeping Scotland under the heel of the Tories in 2014?
I am sure that with an extra £3 billion pounds to work with the Scottish Government and local authorities could do much good work to combat the austerity driven policies of Westminster’s Tory elite, which the “no” vote secured by Scottish Labour in 2014 helped deliver.
So while the House of Lords is now full of Scottish Labour peers sitting in ermine-lined comfort, reward for their slavish loyalty to the Tories in 2014, those at the sharp end of austerity – day in and day out – desperately require the support extra funding could bring.
So come on Scottish Labour, simply ask your pals in the Tory party to give us the cash.
331 Clepington Road,
Tough one to complain about
Sir, – Congratulations to Dundee on the new V&A – I hope it brings many benefits to the city.
Now I am wondering how the SNP will spin this one; they are always saying how Scotland never gets anything, and that Scotland is always being done down.
47 The Quarryknowes,
Thumbs up for funding plan
Sir, – I totally agree with your correspondent Kate Ramsay who suggested Mercer Nairn should set up crowdfunding to raise the cost of cutting the Beech Hedges.
As she says, if it is good enough for Alex Salmond, it should be good enough for Mercer.