Murals have been much on our mind this month. We were reminded of the wonderful, largely concealed (or painted over in a seemingly contemptuous manner) works within the Savoy Centre (left). The imminence of the threat to these irreplaceable pieces – striking survivors amongst the fast-vanishing style of their time - may have diminished as the planned demolition of the Centre appears to have stalled, but their future is by no means secure. Charles Anderson ( was the artist involved, and you may know his work from Charing Cross Station, Strathclyde School of Architecture Building or the former Greenock Central Library. We are currently investigating possible ways in which Anderson’s mural work may be better recognised or celebrated.

Perhaps a more pressing issue is the future of Robert Stewart’s mural at Eastwood High School, which is scheduled for demolition. As matters stand, the mural will be destroyed along with the existing school buildings, when the new building opens in August 2013. Stewart (“one of the foremost British designers of the second half of the twentieth century”) lectured at Glasgow School of Art for 35 years, and is primarily known for textiles, producing some of Liberty’s most recognised patterns of the fifties and sixties. His household ceramic work took him into large scale ceramic murals, and the piece at Eastwood is one of his finest. Images can be viewed of this gloriously organic (and slightly psychedelic) masterpiece at the excellent ‘The Decorated School’ blog. Once again, we’re looking at a rare survivor from an era which will be almost entirely missing from the architectural and decorative record unless bold measures are taken. We have been considering several options as regards intervention to preserve the mural, and action is now under way – we hope to update you in future postings.

Development of the month is the proposed South Clyde Energy Centre. Some words from our resident straight-talker:

"This proposal is vast. When presented at the Glasgow Urban Design Panel earlier this year, the building was illustrated as being approximately 55m high, and over 200m long - the chimney stack will be in the region of 88m in height. The proximity of the proposed installation to Glasgow City Centre was seen (by the architects) to allow it the status of a  'gateway to the city'. Genius. Whilst the potential advantages of alternative forms of energy production are (quite rightly) often a source of great civic pride, is it fair to say that a giant shed for burning household waste is to be the portal to our great city?

"In terms of a contextual response to the site, the immediate vicinity has a strong industrial heritage. The Clyde Estuary, in its entirety, has a fascinating legacy of huge structures housing the shipyards and associated works. Unfortunately, rather than take cognisance of this noble past, Liverpool-based architects Fletcher Rae have decided that this megastructure would provide a much better contribution to Glasgow's skyline if it were a giant mish-mash of curves, colours and incongruous forms. The long elevation is apparently inspired by the form of a fanbelt. More genius.

"This project holds a great opportunity to bear reference to the great behemoths of Glasgow's industrial landscape, in an architecture of subtlety, restraint and elegance. Instead the proposal offers the kind of architectural response one would expect of an Xscape leisure centre (but on a far greater scale) Look at the Torness Power Station, or even the Olympic substation by Nord - as structures they are sublime, and all you need to know about their function is redolent in the design of the facade, and the choice of materials. Glasgow deserves better."

You can view this whole, inspiring proposal here.

The NGS archive holds a vast amount of printed material reaching back to the Society’s foundation in the mid sixties, most of which is unavailable elsewhere. It’s fascinating, and inspiring, to browse through the debates that raged around various developments within Glasgow in a period that encompasses the building of much of the city we stroll through, play and work in today. The depiction of alternative Glasgows – some realised, some not – is especially intriguing. We recognise that the issue of long-term recording, indexing and storage of this material must be addressed, and that there is a huge potential audience interested in this material. With these aims in mind, we are presently taking the first steps in a long road which will hopefully result in the archive being digitised and made available and searchable online, and for posterity. At this stage, sources of funding are not yet secured, but we are grateful for the assistance and invaluable advice of Glasgow University Archive Services (and graduate archivist Dawn Sinclair) in helping us on the initial stages of this journey.

We’ve recently been co-operating with a media consultancy to furnish documentary information from this archive – once more, a matter on which little more can be said for some weeks, but we’re all looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

I’d recommend you pick up a copy of the excellent SubCrawl map (“A Cross-Section of the City for the Price of a Pint”). A colaboration between NGS and Dress for the Weather, the printed map allows you to cram some of the best built and cultural sights of the city into one day with a Discovery ticket. There could be few arguments against handing it out to every one of the tourists that have been such a visible and welcome presence around town this summer. The project’s launch at our premises seemed to have been a lively night. An online reference is also available.

A last word on what seems to be topic de jour: personally, I’m very excited to see what is revealed when Alisdair Gray’s mural at the refurbished Hillhead Subway is unveiled this month. Giving such prominent space to someone who will likely be seen in years to come as one of Glasgow’s most significant creative figures might seem like a ‘no-brainer’, but the choice made in commissioning the work still represents a wise step for SPT (bold, perhaps, given that Gray is the first to confess a history of not being good at finishing murals!) Overall, the wider aspects of the refurbishment of what is frequently the Gateway to the West End for local and international travellers look like they work well. As regards the entire subway ‘redding-up’, and even grander projects around Glasgow, the 2014 Commonwealth Games are looming, of course... but one has a peculiar suspicion that – as was the case for London 2012 – the sceptics (myself included, usually) may be confounded.

Finally, we would like to extend our warmest hopes for the future to our chair, Simon Chadwick, who has left Glasgow and his role at Michael Laird Architects to take up a post within Sheffield School of Architecture. We wish him well, and thank him for the enthusiasm and verve with which he conducted proceedings at NGS, particularly through the Society's relaunch of 2011.

Lex Lamb