HISTORIANS and architecture experts from around the world have been invited on a tour of Cumbernauld as part of a landmark buildings conference.
As many as 600 experts from around the world will descend on Glasgow for the 70th annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) this summer.
The event will see delegates share expertise on everything from Chinese gardens to Australian migrant hostels, west Poland after the Second World War and the aftermath of the 2007 earthquake in Peru.
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The June summit will be the first the SAH have held outwith North America in more than 40 years and organisers have added several Scottish subjects to the programme, including an in-depth look at the restoration of Glasgow School of Art’s world famous “Mack” building following the devastating 2014 fire.
A closing night party will also celebrate the 149th birthday of its creator Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
However, those attending will also have the chance to tour North Lanarkshire town Cumbernauld, the only place in Scotland to have twice been given the Plook on the Plinth award for its “dismal” town centre.
The modernist New Town was planned under the supervision of chief architect Hugh Kerr and won a clutch of awards in the 1960s for its bold vision of how modern urban life should be.
But despite the ambition, its reputation had deteriorated within just 30 years and the town has been nominated more times for the Plook gong, awarded by architecture magazine Urban Realm, than any other.
However, those behind the prize praised the town for its community spirit and transport links, calling it a “nice place to live”.
SAH organisers will include visits to residential areas and churches and said Cumbernauld had gone from the UK’s “most ambitious” project to its “most reviled” by the 1990s.
Advertising the tour in the official programme, they added: “This tour will visit clusters of residential units set within a segregated pedestrian-vehicular traffic system, and knitted together with innovative hard and soft landscaping. The craggy silhouette and remnants of the visionary 1960s town centre still dominates.”
Marking the conference, Aileen Crawford of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau said: “It’s a privilege to be welcoming some 600 international professionals from the Society of Architectural Historians to Glasgow this summer. It’s also a milestone meeting as it marks the first time the SAH has held its annual congress outside North America in more than 40 years and it comes during our national Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, so it’s altogether fitting that it has chosen Glasgow for its first-ever visit to Scotland.” She went on: “As well as enjoying an international reputation as a world-class conventions centre, Glasgow is globally renowned for the legacies of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. I’m delighted that the conference will celebrate our city’s rich architectural heritage and that delegates will get a chance to experience some of the treasures of our built environment; from the Glasgow School of Art, City Chambers and Queen’s Cross Church to the Barony Hall, Kibble Palace and our state-of-the-art Technology and Innovation Centre.”
Other talks on the conference programme will focus on the use of words on buildings and the built environment in Iraq and Syria.