Silent, empty, enigmatic, yet derelict buildings are often full of potential. A Brisk Walk invites you to explore the strange beauty and hidden promise of seemingly forgotten buildings.

This is an architecture walking tour with a difference. Come with Johnny Rodger, Professor of Urban Literature at Glasgow School of Art, on an audio trail exploring past, present and future of six very different buildings. From ornate Victorian to minimalist 1960s modernism, A Brisk Walk takes you on an eye-opening tour of  Glasgow city centre.

A composite 'skyline' of derelict buildings in glorious colour

Buildings at Risk in all their glory: illustration by Rae-Yen Song

Symbols of boom, bust or just bumping along, every empty building has a story to tell. There are hints of personal dramas in crumbling walls and fading signs. Sadness, perhaps, behind blank or shuttered windows.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. New use for derelict buildings can transform streets and bring new life to neighbourhoods round them.

Johnny Rodger leads us from the Victorian optimism of piano seller Thomas Ewing’s shop at 520 in Sauchiehall Street – a street which has seen many incarnations – to the extraordinary Lion Chambers. An early 20th century neo-modern concrete castle in Hope Street lies waiting for new life.

Is it too late for the ‘gap-toothed beauty’ of Clyde Street on Glasgow’s waterfront.

Here we see the tattered modernism of Typographical House in a dazzling new light. Johnny Rodger is joined by Shona Simpson, Built Heritage Officer of Glasgow City Council, to discuss what it means to be a ‘building at risk’. And explain the significance of A, B and C listings.

Brutalism of Typographical House, 1960s derelict building on A Brisk Walk architecture tour

Once a dazzling sight: the ‘brutalist’ Typographical House reimagined by Rae-Yen Song

A Brisk Walk to an upbeat ending

No spoilers, but together they bring us to a perhaps unexpectedly upbeat ending, a happy new beginning, in the rebirth of the Clay Pipe Factory and St Luke’s in the Barras.

A Brisk Walk: Buildings at Risk, with atmospheric musical soundtrack by Ryan Gibson, is a collaboration between Architecture and Design Scotland and Walking Heads and was specially made for the Festival of Architecture Scotland 2016.

We are enormously grateful for the generosity and creative talent of many contributors and collaborators (see Stop 12 of a Brisk Walk) in producing this beautifully illustrated audio tour. DOWNLOADA Brisk Walk: Buildings at Risk  now. It’s free to download to smartphones and tablets or browse with Streetview function on the website.

The tour was launched by Architecture and Design Scotland with Walking Heads at The Lighthouse at the Say Hello to Doors Open Day event on Saturday 17 September.  We are delighted to meet people of all ages keen to explore the route.  If you have memories of any of these buildings we would love to hear from you too.

Lion Chambers with lion roaring 'Open'

Promise not threat at the Lion Chambers: illustration by Rae-Yen Song

Footnote: Walking (not too briskly) the tour takes around one and a half hours.  We recommend the journey. There is a great sense of arrival at each new building which we admit we often walked past without a second look. Not any more!

Working with Architecture and Design Scotland has been a great (and often seriously thought-provoking) experience. It’s the kind of commissioned work we love to do and are currently expanding. Every building and every street has a story to tell. We would love to tell your story.