Say Hello to: Johnny Rodger – contributor and narrator of A Brisk Walk audio tour

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The “A Brisk Walk” audio tour – commissioned as part of Architecture and Design Scotland’s Say Hello to Architecture programme and developed in conjunction with Walking Head Tours – features an interactive map with stories of the various locations narrated by Johnny Rodger, Writer and Professor of Urban Literature at the Glasgow School of Art.

How did you get involved in the production of A Brisk Walk?

I’ve written about Glasgow architecture over the years and A&DS and Walking Heads had created a basic outline of seven buildings – I added another two or three buildings to keep the listener’s interest up between the buildings. I’ve also tried to highlight some buildings that are related – for example Lions Chambers and Hatrack by the same architect – one is derelict and the other is in a better state.

Which one of the buildings featured is your favourite and why?

I don’t really have a favourite – I appreciate them all for their different qualities. It’s like a bunch of friends – they all have some great things about them, their drawbacks – things that make you happy, sad or disappointed. I enjoy the contribution they make to the city.

Do you think people notice the buildings in their day-to-day life?

People in Glasgow – as everywhere – are in a rush and have phones and games to look at – perhaps they don’t notice some of the buildings. Glasgow is a dense and tall city so you may only have a chance to look up if you’re standing still – for example waiting for a bus in Hope Street.

Do people have a fondness for the buildings you feature?

Nostalgia can be quite strong in Glasgow and I believe people have fondness or pride in buildings we are featuring for a variety of reasons, but at the same time there others that might not be as liked.

If you take the walk and you’re inspired to take an action to save the buildings at risk; what can you do?

One thing is awareness of what is happening and why it happens. The reasons buildings become at risk is related to the population, demographics and the changes to they way we work and live in the city. The city is much smaller than it was 100 years ago when most of these buildings were built. The changing size and wealth of the city have had a massive impact on the buildings we are talking about.  However, we have to acknowledge that some things falling down might not be a bad thing if they’re replaced by something better.I believe that the tour can contribute to a more informed citizenship, and raise awareness about the situation and to consider what kind of a city we would like to see.

Find out more about the A Brisk Walk audio-tour – produced by A&DS and Walking Heads as part of the Say Hello to Architecture Programme to mark the Festival of Architecture and the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design in 2016.

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