The Red Road flats have shaped Glasgow's skyline for five decades and housed many families. People from around the world have many memories of living there. But their former homes are to be demolished as part of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.
Five of six remaining blocks of flats will be blown up in just 15 seconds – an event described by organisers as the biggest demolition of its kind ever seen in Europe. But one block, housing refugees and asylum seekers, will be left. Those residents and surrounding residents (approx 900) are to be evacuated and offered a free ticket to watch the demolition on a big screen.
The blocks’ final few moments will be beamed live into the ceremony at Celtic Park as well as to an estimated TV audience of more than one billion people around the world.
The five tower blocks will be brought down simultaneously, by 2,755lb of explosives, necessitating an exclusion zone, road blocks and the prospect of widespread dust.
Many people are dismayed by this proposal. The reasons are many: the disrespect displayed by blowing up homes for entertainment; the mixed and complex message of 'regeneration' by destruction; the insult to the families remaining in the sixth block; the disruption to families and the city at the time of a huge event; the uncertainty around safety in the context of such a big demolition project; the additional pressure placed on public services when the city will be welcoming thousands of international visitors.
Even if there is some support for the proposal, it is clearly now a fact that it has polarised people. Surely, it was never the intention of the organisers to deliver such a disuniting opening to the Commonwealth Games.