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 the city’s quirky and “contested” spaces, in partnership with the National Museum of Scotland. It was delivered by a panel of researchers, activists, policy makers, 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. Though 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!