Unpave Paradise

280420091359I love demolition sites. Not for the potential new building that will take place there, but for the old view, blocked out for so many years, that gets set free again. Sadly, the view is usually lessened by the big hoardings that keep out people who might get up to no good, and then, sooner or later, some other ugly pile of bricks, glass or concrete will be shoved up and obscure the sight line again. It’s called development and I understand the economic imperative. But.

Someone asked me recently “What would you do if you just had shedloads of money, more money than you knew what to do with?” I really thought about it for once. Or rather I didn’t think, I just let something tumble out of my mouth. And when I heard it, I knew it to be the truth.

“I’d buy up old, ugly, useless buildings in the city and knock them down. Then instead of building something new on the site, I’d make it into a park, a green space, perhaps with a tree or two. And no-one would be allowed to build there again.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t that be a better legacy than putting up yet another building (however beautiful or well-designed) in a city that already feels like it has too many?

I think so. I also think it’s too good to wait until I’ve got shedloads of money, more money than I know what to do with. I never say never, but it might be a long time coming. I think a better idea is to crowdfund it. How much would we need to raise to buy something small (but ugly) tear it down and make something beautiful and natural in its place? What sort of organisation would it take? What planning obstacles might there be? Anybody want to take it on as a juicy co-operative social enterprise? Anybody already doing it?

5 thoughts on “Unpave Paradise”

  1. I’ve always dreamt of buying up all the advertising billboards and putting up signs like “SMILE” or “SAY THANK YOU”

    Reminding people to be polite and to talk to each other…


    nice thoughts

  2. For me, the exciting thing about demolition sites is the plant life: common weeds, exotic weeds and garden escapes. Sometimes old agricultural weeds appear – weeds which plagued the local farmers of several generations ago. The seeds of these latter plants may have lain dormant in the soil for a century or more – from a time before the particular site was built on.

    Also present, occasionally, are plants which may have had medicinal and economic uses in the past – plants like: Soapwort (used for washing cloth), Wormwood, Tansy and Garden Orache (medicinal herbs).

    Areas of, so-called, ‘wasteground’ are nothing of the sort – they are often cornucopias of biology and local history.

    1. Thanks Dave, lovely point and I agree – just letting nature back into the space is great on its own. The annoying thing is that the space is so often also fenced off and guarded so that we can’t explore.

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