Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dereliction. Why is that bad, exactly?

I am being a bit contentious (again). There is just something that I find in the run down and less favoured places that attracts me. Neat, orderly and hygienic has its place: It's called suburbia. One of the attractions of neglect is that there was, after all, something which to neglect.

I wandered about Shieldfield, adjacent to my 'Battlefield' the other day and tried to make some sense of what is happening; the variety of spaces, types of buildings and that remarkable effect, how one kind of new building suddenly, unexpectedly sets one looking again at another, familiar and yet completely transformed by this new association.

Behind Shieldfield next to the, as yet still unredeveloped, old paint factory site, something remarkable is happening. The newly built student 'halls of residence' (as they are not called nowadays) has brought something to the area that threatens to make it one of the most interesting in the city. It vies, it grows and contradicts. What was once derelict and marginalised has been given new life – because to one with a trained and unprejudiced eye, it was always there.

Ernest's Bistro Café thrives; small businesses (vintage furniture, a gym, furniture maker, and a trade supplies outlet) are being jostled by a new music venue. The Biscuit Factory building, old and magnificent is a feature; wonderfully, this is now a place to be and exist. What was simply once a 'threatening' area indeed, is now teetering on becoming 'somewhere'.

A new identity or a resurrected one?

Shieldfield November 2013

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