One mourns the loss of any genuine, bright and energetic talent but the loss of Glasgow’s internationally respected architect, Gareth Hoskins – to a heart attack a week ago at the awfully early age of forty eight – comes hard.
Argyll and one of its five major towns has a special reason to feel bereft for Hoskins was passionate about his particular vision for Helensburgh.
He designed a schematic to show how the central, defining but shabby pierhead area of the essentially elegant Clydeside town, whose heyday spanned the 18th and 19th centuries, might be reimagined while still hosting a town centre sports and leisure centre.
He then proposed using the site of the former Hermitage academy to host a Helensburgh Housing Expo – and to use it to sell the site.
Housing expos involve the building of demonstration houses and developments, so that what the design and build concept and realisation have to offer to Expo visitors is not in the mind but it present, tangible, robust and real – and, when the Expo is over provides built housing stock as well as inspiration for more.
The value of the legacy is housing, built with community in mind, designed to excite and to deliver the highest current standards in sustainability.
The Hoskins proposition would have seen other smaller local Expos sites across Lomond, leaving first class sustainable housing, with
For Argyll said in an article on the Hoskins proposals at the time, that this ‘had the potential to be hugely and contagiously regenerative.’ It did. The problem was that other interests took precedence – and, in any case, informed imagination is rarely part of the armoury of any local authority.
In tribute to Gareth Hoskins and the spirit that prompted him voluntarily to gift his ideas to a town he knew might have a newly oriented life ahead of it, we offer this link to the article we wrote at the time – which includes the schematic he gave us for his immediately playful and exciting proposition for the Helensburgh pierhead.
In his short and celebrated career, Gareth Hoskins completed a wide variety of prestigious public sector commissions, several in the heartland of Scotland’s two major cities. With every brilliant artist dying well before their time, part of the loss is what they never went on to do.
To us, the clean driving energy and the upward sweeps of his image for the pierhead reflect the spirit of someone whose work gave genuine pleasure in its skill and verve – and will long continue to do so.