I spent last night getting lost in discussions about Edinburgh’s urban landscapes as part of a panel discussion called Lost+Found in Edinburgh: Our city today. The event was part of the Being Human Festival, a festival to celebrate the humanities, and was certainly a fun way to waste away a couple of hours in the middle of the week.
The discussion was part of a launch for a new online exhibition by The New Metropolitan which will showcase some of the city’s quirky and “contested” spaces, in partnership with the National Museum of Scotland. It was delivered by a panel of researchers, activists, policymakers, and citizens offering a debate about what living in Edinburgh means today – from a built-environment viewpoint. If I’m completely honest, I don’t know that the event was exactly what I thought, or hoped, it would be. However, it certainly did introduce me to a few interesting concepts about urban living and urban development.
It was interesting to me to consider the difference between abandoned construction projects in the city. For instance, “Scotland’s Disgrace”, a partially completed monument at the top of Calton Hill is considered a fun folly and tourist destination for some. But the unfinished high-rise flats at Granton or other mass-housing developments around the city are more readily thought of as a blight on their communities. What’s the difference? Time, maybe. Or in my opinion, the story behind the initial building plans and the abandonment. (And, let’s be honest, there’s a difference in aesthetics, too.)
It was also interesting to talk about the differences between the “heritage” houses and flats in the city centre in juxtaposition to the largely ignored and slightly blander housing units in the suburbs. Although I have to wonder if people thought about the massive rows of Victorian tenements then as we think of cookie-cutter housing estates today. So maybe we’ll be admiring Cala Homes in the next century. (That is, of course, assuming they’re built to last that long. Which I doubt.)
But ultimately, Edinburgh is a living place. And the city centre is not only a World Heritage Site filled with historic buildings and busloads of tourists, but it’s also home to thousands of residents who just want to get on with their day-to-day lives. (Albeit in the most beautiful city in the world!)
Yes, it’s a living city; a transient city; a city in perpetual change. And that’s one of the (countless) things I love about it!
Anyhow, I found the event whilst searching out adventures to keep me entertained. And that led me to another event that I’ll be attending on Saturday afternoon, War frocks unlocked: Interpreting clothing born of conflict.
I can’t say that I fully enjoy doing all of these things as a solo adventurer, but I’m learning to feel less awkward whilst out on my own. And as I’ve said before, solo adventuring brought me to a place of much love and happiness once … and there’s no reason to doubt it can’t happen again!