Tag Archives: demolition

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?

Work Places

05112008518This is a photograph of what’s left of the car park that used to be on the corner of Rochester Row and Greycoat Place. In the top left-hand corner, you can see the windows of the offices of 33 Greycoat Street, now occupied by the Commission for Social Care Inspection. In 1999, the Audit Commission took on that building as part of it’s growth in preparation for inspecting Best Value (wha’ that?) and one of those first floor offices later became the place where my manager took residence and I’d sit with her, trying to avoid conversations about how well I was doing, what I wanted to do next and how the Commission “could help in my development”. I mainly stared out of the window, at that car park and wondered how long she would wait to change the subject.

I love these holes in the city. Demolition sites that, once flattened, last only too briefly. The chance to see through further than you could before, see the backs of places only imagined, see a bit more of the sky, regain a sense of scale. Maybe some of them will hang around for longer if redevelopment money is short. Mind you, there still seems to be plenty of activity of some sites, although those may be ones where the mentality is “we’ve started so we’ll finish”.

Which also reminds me of conversations we had early on about Tuttle that included a kind of office-in-a-box a travelling co-working space that could be set up anywhere we could find a space. I’m becoming attracted to that again. Perhaps Amplified08 might be a place to specify what’s needed.