Edgecondition vol5 Article/Photo Story - 'Govan A Reconnection'

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GOVAN: A RECONNECTION by Tom Manley BA(hons) Arch Architectural Photographer, regeneration consultant http://tommanleyphotography.com info@tommanleyphototgraphy.com @tommanley1 ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF TOM MANLEY

An inspiring story of both people and place. Govan is very much part of Glasgow; yet it is distinct and psychologically distanced from the city. Subsumed by the city of Glasgow in 1912, a powerful story of protest and strength of character is engrained in its making. Govan’s independent spirit, and cultural identity are at the centre of vibrant efforts to enhance the fortunes and regeneration of the area. Heritage and renewal have been embraced. However, after years of post-industrial neglect the challenges are complex. Short sighted procurement policies, and planning decisions taken at the expense of local desires, have fuelled social, political, and physical barriers visible in derelict, and contested space. Govan has survived the recession; BAE systems are still producing ships, and the empowerment


of local grassroots initiatives have strengthened regeneration projects. With such rich history, the notion of place needs no making here. A focus has been placed on identifying assets to attract visitors, storytelling, and the ability of cultural tourism, to help reconnect physically and emotionally with the city. The Central Govan Action Plan has almost completed a 10-year programme of improvements to housing, the public realm, and historic buildings. This holistic approach has been recognized in Govan receiving the 2014 RTPI Silver Jubilee Cup award for planning excellence, whilst social enterprises such as Fablevision continue to drive transformative projects.

take time. A bridge across the water would be a further positive action forming a connection to Partick and the West End of the city. The story of land and people at Water Row at the heart of Govan still awaits proper acknowledgement and appropriate development to avoid being led by house builder’s or developer’s projections. The vast expansive dry docks still lie vacant, a potential landscape threatened by private interests and the removal of the current ecosystem that has taken hold in years of absent activity. This photo story attempts to show elements of an underlying physical and emotional essence to the area.

‘Taransay Street’ In the seventies, community focused architects began to put in place a realisation of the value of tenement housing. The role of local housing associations began to flourish thanks to this tenement rehabilitation program, starting in close proximity to the Govan Fairfield shipyard.

Social and economic repair will



‘The Graving Docks’

‘A Silent Anchor’

Landscape holds so many clues to its future development. The Graving Docks in Govan, is a momentous and inspirational landscape. Lying abandoned in the hands of private developers, it offers vast potential as an urban gateway into Govan; a celebration of landscape, maritime history and renewal.

This landscape of industrial memories could be instrumental in reconnecting Govan’s raison d’être with Glasgow and the river. Housing development could be integrated with public open space, heritage assets, sculpture, community facilities, and natural landscape.



‘Govan’s Everyday Spectacle’

‘New Housing’

Zaha Hadid’s Riverside museum fronts the River Clyde overlooking Govan. Boldly enclosing the story of manufacturing and transport, its relationship with Govan and the Clyde offers a lasting opportunity for renewal, already helping establish a ferry crossing and forming cultural ties within Govan.

Contemporary architectural forms, both generic and individual, jostle for presence amongst the rich tapestry of streets from which Govan can be traced.





Members of the Scottish Show People’s community have a strong attachment to Govan, their way of life needs to be represented, and protected within the area, yet they have been repeatedly ignored and isolated from the land and community they serve. Proposals to see a museum or permanent expression of their culture at the heart of Govan are ongoing.

Water Row, where history, routes and rivers converge. Short sighted development plans, and consultation over the city council’s plans to use the site as a car park, have been strongly contested. The site needs to reinterpret Govan’s ancient significance as a place of democracy and power, that became the beating heart of shipbuilding. Transparency and dialogue is required, not just plans for houses.



‘A Place That Once Was Here’

‘Govan Assembly’

Recalling the old cottages that lined Water Row and dealing with themes of memory, and attachment to place, this collaborative project was illuminated on November 5th 2012. Highlighting questions over treatment of land and local culture, it has since taken on new meanings, as a feature in the magnificent Govan Fair.

Sculpture by Matt Baker. “This is the right time for Govan to become a place of power in Glasgow. It will only happen if enough people make it happen. This is our challenge and responsibility.”



‘Detail of Govan Assembly Sculpture’

‘About Us, Without Us’

Quoting public artist Matt Baker and following his involvement in Govan- “the artworks are seen not as endpoints, but rather that the physical sculptures should be seen as tools for continuing the momentum of change and growth in a place”.

A unique public art event as part of Glasgow’s International Festival of Visual Art celebrated Govan’s connection to the water, obsolete communication techniques, and sense of place.



‘Here Comes The Govan Fair’

‘The Shipwright & The Engineer’

People await the Govan Fair procession.

Sculptures flank the entrance of Govan’s Fairfield shipyard building. Responsible for many of the finest ships built on the Clyde, the iconic building has recently been restored and finely refurbished into a heritage centre and business facility, providing a huge cultural asset to Govan and symbolizing the importance of heritage in enabling a brighter future.


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