The amazing city of Paris

Having travelled a bit in my life I can say that a big city has marked me since I was a child. this city continues to surprise me every time I go there, so full of secrets, culture and things stuff to do and discover. However, this city is not in a country foreign to mine, this city I am going to talk about is Paris.

When I arrived in the suburbs of Paris as a small child, I remember the feeling of excitement, wonder and discovery that I could feel in front of such a beautiful city, full of history and for which 50 million tourists come to visit every year. However, over the years, these feelings have been compounded by surprise, misunderstanding and sometimes fear.

I’m going to tell you about the feelings, the sensations I can experience as a move from my little Parisian suburb to the very heart of Paris. So I leave my house in the morning, this place still has the partial aspect of Ferdinand Tonnies “Gemeinschaft”, the people know each other. I walk slowly in my small town that still seems to be asleep, direction Paris for a little shopping session. Arrived at the station where the atmosphere is relaxed and where the ticket inspectors talk with their friends before taking the train, I take the RER, a suburban train that goes to the center of Paris. With the train gone, I notice a funny phenomenon. indeed, as if to support Ernest Burgess theory of concentric zones, depending on how close the train gets close to the centre of Paris, the people who get on it change social classes, we go from people from the suburbs to middle class people, then working class people, then we go through businessmen who go to work in the business centre of Paris.

I finally arrive in the centre of Paris, and it’s a deafening roar that attacks my ears and all my senses at once.

It’s like being in an anthill where each person appears as a worker ant attached to his task and running with his ears protected from the ambient noise by his earphones. No one seems to know or respect each other, everyone seems independent. The cars rush at full speed, honking the horns of passagers-by who force their way over the pedestrian crossing, it’s like a democratized jungle. People all seem the same, only a few of them that society would consider extravagant are trying to break a uniform mould.

To escape this permanent noise, I walk at full speed towards a “refuge zone”, the Marais district, where the largest gay community in Paris has settled, a former popular district that has become one of the most expensive places in the city. Perhaps an observable example of Sharon Zukin’s gentrification phenomenon ? The point is, this is my favorite place. I’m relaxed and can now walk without the stress of being run over by cars, there is no speed. this place is imbued with a feeling of total carelessness and slowness. the scenery is really beautiful and it is a haven of peace.

Decided to go shopping in the center of Paris I must now leave this place, because unfortunately, the manifestation of the yellow vests paralyses the center of Paris whose decor looks now like urban guerrilla warfare.

Now I have to go back home happy at the thought of finding the calm of my Parisian suburb. Even if this city will never ceases to surprise me, it offers infinite possibilities and discoveries, everything seems to happen there. All this makes Paris a unique city in the World.

Audouin d’Aigremont 100530682

A semi-rural ramble

As i was unable to walk across a city and have been unable to leave home at for weeks, i have had to resort to a short semi-rural ramble through my village. From my house, which is a relatively new addition to the area, i walked through the alleyway (known as a “ginnell” locally) at the top of the road with its fences marking the allotments on one side and the gardens of the house on the other i noticed something that i hadn’t done previously, there was no litter or graffiti like one would expect to find if it were a town or city rather than a village. This got me thinking, do those who live in towns and cities accept that a disregard for public spaces is to be expected? And are we who live in smaller communities unwilling to accept living in those conditions?

At the end of the alleyway we come to the older pats of the village, a half mile long road with allotments on one side and terraced houses built for mining families on the other. The pits have long closed and the houses have gone through some changes since then. They seem more affluent now than ever before, in the years following the pit closure they became rundown and neglected just like the whole area did. If i would have walked this route 30 years ago i could have almost guaranteed that 90% of these homes were still those of mining families but now they could belong to anyone. They are just houses now, anonymous, without a clear identity.

The allotments, now a hobby for locals, would once have served to provide extra food for the local workforce and their families. They are filled with people working the ground in the spring sunshine, more than would be there usually during the week as i guess most have had to take time off due to the coronavirus situation. I had assumed that most would have been at retirement age but now i dont belive that to be the case.

At the end of the road is the main road, never particularly busy as it is not on any route to anywhere except other villages. This is where the local shops are. Originally bakers, butchers, greengrocers etc, they became largely closed down with the demise of mining though in the last ten years there has been a massive change. Now we have a micro-brewery, a boutique clothing store owned by a famous footballers wife, an international award winning restaurant and the original store of an exclusive men’s tailors and bespoke clothing designer which is frequented by celebrities, i saw Tom Hardy in there last year. All these businesses are now closed due to Covid-19 and it is a worry that it could set the area back back to like it was in the 90s, deprived and unappealing.

Everyone says hello as you pass by around here which is nice and everyone is helping each other to social distance. People will stop and wait at a a safe distance for others to get past with a smile and pleasantries exchanged. Having grown up in a city this niceness seemed strange at first now its just normal and i often wonder if those who have lived here their whole lives even notice how unusually friendly folk are around here. Though there is no mining community anymore there is still a solid sense of community and we are lucky to have it.

Past the shops and the rows of houses which lay behind them we reach the end of the ramble. The main road now becomes a country lane with fields either side leading down to the valley bellow. From here the site where the old pit once was can be seen and the old well-trodden path that once led the workers to the pit shaft now has benches dotted along it and plaques showing what nature can be seen along the trail. The old pictures of the area in its industrial heyday show a smokey, scarred landscape, but now only a couple of decades on it has now been transformed into a beauty spot, as if someone has tried to hide the evidence of how it once was.

A path to Heaven

For this blog, I would like to retrace a path I have taken almost every day of the week throughout my life in Derby. For you see, walking makes you think, Aristotle was already demonstrating that in his time. And to walk the same path becomes very interesting, especially when this path is of good duration, when it is in the middle of the city and it is important for us, because of its deep purpose. So, I’m going to tell the story of the path I used to take every day from noon (the best time of the day) from my home (Wilson street) to my haven of peace (St Mary’s church).

First of all, when you get out of the house, it’s like getting out of bed, because it determines your whole attitude out there, your mood. The advantage of Wilson street is that it’s a slightly elevated street exposed to the morning sun, a bright, blinding, warming sun. So as soon as I opened my door, I was delighted, all I had to do was hum in my head to become the last of the idiots in front of the slightest passer-by. Most of the time, these passers-by were homeless, people in difficulty or even handicapped. And there, all my attitude was crucial with these people, a bit of kindness and my day would continue to light up as I went along, and in contrast, a slightly annoying idea and I would become the only one walking in the street without seeing anything or anyone. The two attitudes followed one another, day after day, according to a few parameters: mood, time, personal problems, etc. I considered this step as the one that would determine the path. This small step embodied the straight line of Wilson street, then the descent to Victoria street and the heart of Derby.

Arriving at the bottom of the street, I make my grand entrance into the living centre of Derby, and there my identity no longer belongs to me. I am no longer myself, but I am an individual in a crowd of other individuals. Turning left on Corn Market, this state of mind is striking when you think about it, and yet so unconscious in the heat of the action. All that comes out of me is the image of a boy walking pretty fast and taking a decidedly relaxed yet nonchalant step. This image, constructed from scratch, is that of the individual wanting to protect himself in the face of so much complexity, surrounding him, stimulating him intensively. For yes, walking in the very centre of Derby throws on each individual a disturbing stream of strangeness that does not resemble us, that we do not know, that we will never want to know and that yet in spite of ourselves we classify ourselves in our mind. All this complexity, it is the individual value of each person that is added in the common spirit of all this urban din, what is commonly called, and to reassure our worried mind, the city. For the city, we know what it is, it is known to everyone and does not change according to consciences. And yet, the city does not exist, it is simply the fruit of each individual reason for being, turned, diverted, conscious, unconscious; it is only this individual reason for being that forms the city, because, adding to another reason for being and then another and another, will, after hundreds of thousands of other reasons for being, form what each one will have produced. Namely, shops, pubs, churches, sports clubs, homes. 

Yes, these buildings are only secondary, I only notice them after studying those for whom they exist, the people around me, walking towards the reason that makes them work. All this is a game, a play, and whoever manages to be sincere can only be completely crazy. That’s what I tell myself, before I try, against all odds. Making a smile, giving a coin to a homeless man and saying a few words to him, sometimes it’s not much, but it’s me, simply trying to give a little more of what’s inside me to this unknown crowd. 

As I go on my way, it gets simpler, I understand more things, I pass by this imposing cathedral that might look like me and yet is not where I would go to rest by being almost completely myself. No, I continue on Queen street and there it is the space of people in a little more hurry, driving in these cars, which escape from everything I have just experienced, since they offer an individual bubble to the person on board, he only sees the point where he has to go and the emotional stimuli will be very limited on board this material shell. I make my way through these emotional tanks and finally, I fly over them, on this incredibly well imagined bridge (Saint Alkmund’s Way Footbridge), as it is the height of calm above the whirlwind of urban life. All I see now is the end of my path, great, gentle, inviting me to come and rest, St Mary’s Church.

This path was a way of experiencing a theory, one that gives the city as an accelerator of the individuation process. The individual forms the city, with the help of all the other individuals, and then this city inevitably becomes a factor of individuation. We can go in the opposite direction, trying not to individualize ourselves, going towards the other, if the latter is willing. Or we can accentuate this individuation factor. With music in our ears, we are more individual than ever, we stay in our head and we feel very, very good. The car does the same thing in a much more radical way. And finally, what I could see, the off-peak time, between 4 and 6 in the morning; that moment when the city is no longer the city, it doesn’t exist, not yet, all that exists is where I come from and where I’m going. For a city that is not alive is indeed a dead city.

A path to Heaven

Jérôme Vermeulen


Lisbon: Cidade do meu coração

I had the chance, on a personal trip with my friends, to visit the beautiful city of Lisbon, a city with the colours of the South, with the heat so aggressive but with which you have to live, and honestly, it is not so difficult. I didn’t know Lisbon or Portugal, I was traveling in the unknown, I hadn’t bothered to find out beforehand because I wanted to discover everything on the spot, I wanted to get away from it all, to forget the culture that was mine for a week.

When I got there, my initial idea was simple: I wanted to party, to enjoy all the advantages that Lisbon had to offer that I didn’t have at home. It is true that Lisbon is at first sight a city of the night, with its atmosphere changing as the sun sets, its inhabitants like a bomb waiting to explode when the moon dares to show itself, its mojitos, beers and caipirinhas so easy to get to and at ridiculously low prices, replacing the dishes of the Alfama district with the drinks of Bairo Alto. One would almost believe that Lisbon is lunatic, bipolar. Indeed, Lisbon is a city of the night, it has everything it takes to be one, but the party in Lisbon is not comparable to the party in another city, it does not have the best parties in the world, but it is certain that they are unique.

The bairro alto, where the best bars of Lisbon are.

The truth is that the night in Lisbon is not only filled with alcohol, electro music and overrated decorations. If you look hard enough you can find bars where the music is simple, with a singer, a guitar, only a few candles as a light, flags of all colours and people who are content to enjoy their evening over a drink if they don’t just want to get drunk. This is the real Lisbon of the night, with the codes of a city of the night like any other, but also with its authenticity, its charm. It is this Lisbon that touched me, that seduced me.

Of course, I did not only see the Lisbon by night, I was also able to contemplate it by day. The difference is not obvious, but it can be seen in the details, for those who have the curiosity to take a look at its architecture, the sunlight makes it possible to see the details of its buildings, and its colours. One thing that is typical of Lisbon is its old tramway that everyone knows, at night it is just an empty wagon, an obstacle in our way, by day it is a place full of life and an element of scenery. It is also a city with its spaces, mainly the tourist areas in the heart of the city centre. The heart of the city is clearly an area in the process of gentrification, because Lisbon is obviously a very touristy city that can attract people from all over the world who want to acquire a second home. The richest areas of Lisbon are located in the heart of the city and in the hills, as this city has the peculiarity of being built close to the coasts and hills. As far as the popular districts are concerned, the further you go from the city centre to the outskirts, the poorer the districts become.

Finally, Lisbon is not strictly speaking a global city, but it does have characteristics of one, although it is certainly a European city. It has a very large seaport and its possibilities linked to maritime transport are very wide geographically. It is also a city that produces (textiles, oil, etc…) and logically exports. What also struck me about Lisbon is the number of languages that can be heard in its streets, which clearly shows that it is an attractive city that can attract people from all walks of life. The ability of Lisbon’s inhabitants to speak other languages is a good example of how this city is adapting to globalisation and how it is able to benefit economically from it.

To sum up my experience in Lisbon, I would say that Lisbon is not the most impressive city to visit, but it is capable of seducing you with its authenticity, simplicity and the change of scenery that it can make you feel without being too far away from you. Lisbon is not the most beautiful city in the world, but it is certainly unique. 

Ponder through city?

One day, the famous French writer, Georges Bernanos, in his book France against robots (1946) talked about modernity with these words:

‘We understand absolutely nothing of modern civilization if we do not at first admit that it is a universal conspiracy against any kind of inner life’. 

When I read this quote, it first sounded strange to me, maybe a bit conspiracist. But trying to meditate it, I finally understood, especially through my experience in Derby. Depending on where I was in the city, I was indeed more or less able to ponder, to breathe intellectually. I used to walk through the city from my house at Stanley Street to the post office of Kedleston Road, always on the same way. Because I always did this trip mechanically, I didn’t measure its emotional impact. But thinking about how to redact this blog I suddenly became aware of how emotional this little stroll was. As mentioned by ‘the city archaeologist’, Walter Benjamin, I will try now to go to the post office anew as if a child.   

My way to the Kedleston Road post office

Leaving my house, I walk on Stanley Street until Cecil Street on the left. Houses are all the same; little, adjoining, red bricks, an outdoor satellite antenna to have the best Wi-Fi flow. It is monotonous, repetitive, rather depressing. There is almost nobody. Unconsciously, I feel lonely. I seek a human presence, a sort of means to leave this loneliness. Sometimes a smile, sometimes nothing. At the end of Cecil Street, I pass by the New Zealand Arms pub. I scarcely notice it, it doesn’t cast a shadow. I reach on the corner of Surrey Street where there is the Cocco hair Salon. Immediately, I have a great feeling of freshness. Of course, I can’t help looking inside, to people who get their hair cut. It puts some change in the monotony of my stroll. Then I can see the fireworks shop in Ashbourne Road. My stroll becomes now a much bustled one. I have to be careful about cars and people. I walk quicker because it’s noisy and air is much more polluted. It wouldn’t be a lie if I said that I feel alienated. I hardly look to the shops around me (The Co-operative Food, E Liquid Paradise), all I want is to turn left on Mackworth Road and leave this place where I feel overwhelmed. Then, my trip gets a new side…

Passing by Britannia Mills, I meet a few students. My stroll becomes warmer and I feel better. Arrived in the path between West End Park and Markeaton Recreation Ground, it is as if all was born again. In this little green space in the middle of the urban ones, I feel free. My imagination, which was previously stifled, is now running. Now I can breathe, I can dream, I can live. I hear the sweet song of birds and I look at children who play on my left. I walk more slowly but it feels like I walk harmoniously with the place where I am. I appreciate this moment because I know that I will soon have to leave. Indeed after Cowley Street, I will have to overcome Kedleston Road aggressiveness if I want to post my letter…    

My way through Markeaton Park

Having lived this experience I understand better Deborah Stevenson’s theories about ‘The Emotional City’. But more deeply, what I realise now, after having thought about all the emotional impacts of this mere trip, is how city isn’t a place for meditation or reflexion. Indeed, I was absolutely unable to think or to develop any kind of inwardness through urban spaces of Derby, so loud were the hustle and bustle. I really appreciated the green space of Mackworth Road. These spaces are essential to preserve an inner-peace. They are a kind of break in the city buzzing and pressure, a vital break for the wit.

MOITRY Benjamin

ID : 100528659

Derby, The Patchwork Quilt City.

I decided to begin my walk from the end of my street and tour the town. Situated on one side of Lara Croft Way the immediate effects of the city’s development can be seen with the newly installed road leaving numerous new ‘T’ junction dead end roads, that ten year’s previous were accessible from either end. Prior to my walk I had a pre-conceived notion of how I thought it would transpire, after all it was a walk I have undergone hundreds if not thousands of times before. Individually, as part of a couple and/or group, whilst walking the dog, pushing my little one in her pram, on a bicycle, I mean how different minus any extenuating circumstances could or would make it significantly different this time? Well how wrong I was……

Abbey St, adjacent bike path.

As I walked across a car park, another result of the development of Lara Croft Way, towards Macklin street I started thinking about what I’d include, with the usual surrounding building’s or the lack of some of them stirring up memories of my past. Known over the decades by many names including, but not limited to ‘The Heritage’, ‘Pennine’, ‘The Metro’ and most recently ‘St Peters Quarter Hotel’, now stands boarded up and derelict leads me to the conclusion it probably had more titles than makeovers. Reminds me of the time a friend described its history at a social gathering, detailing it as at a time one the crowning jewels by way of luxury accommodation in the 60’s and 70’s to then in the same breath suggest it essentially became a charge by the hour rather than night establishment by the 90’s. The square pit or rubble that was once home too many small business’s such as the ‘Pink Coconut’, not only brings back many memories for me, but for plenty of Derby locals.

Macklin street
The Heritage
Previously the ‘Pink Coconut’

Proceeding further into town the now available office space, which once stood as a Telephone exchange hub, was the first building that sparked a more natural memory recollection. It was the radiators, glaring at me through the windows large cast irons heaters not to unlike the ones in my primary school hall. Immediately reminding me of sitting crossed legged on the floor singing hymns in assembly looking on enviously at the older students that had the then luxury of a P.E bench to sit on. As I took a brief moment to reminisce, what stood out to me next was the buildings sign. The ‘TELEPHONE EXCHANGE’ clearly standing bold and somewhat apart from the rest of its stone surroundings, it made me think, why’s that still there. The building has been inhabited by numerous businesses since its closure, could they not be bothered , liked how it currently looked, weren’t permitted to change it or simply something they hadn’t got around to changing.

Telephone Exchange

As I continued to delve further into town I couldn’t help but notice , partly as a result of the quiet atmosphere due to the corona virus pandemic and its restrictions to societies lifestyle’s, the amount of empty shops and stores under construction, leaving me to wonder if they are in fact developing or slowing dying. The shop exterior fronts didn’t seem to match the business’s present inside, it all seemed to be somewhat of an organised mess, giving me the notion of a ‘Patchwork Quilt City’. Ignoring the shops that actually seem as they would be functioning if life was at a norm, which I would say is approximately 50%. Leaves the rest of them seemingly a balanced mix of vacant, opening up, closing down, closed for maintenance, under construction or newly constructed stores. Growing up in South West London, including such places as Clapham I have seen for better or for worse what outside investment and the gentrification can do to a town/city, but Derby is different and its town centre to me is evident of that. It seems to me as if Derby cannot decide whether it wants to embrace the times and gentrify or hold on to its past and reside more traditionally. Leaving it with a mix of contrasting shops and business’s, even to include the architecture of the buildings they are in. The dense mix of brand new and purpose-built buildings compared to the more vintage establishments, that where clearly built to last with some living up to that a lot better than others, leave the high street appearing like a concrete collage. However, this doesn’t give me the impression that it’s an economic issue, but rather Derby as a City cannot make its mind up and instead starts on something new rather than finishing current projects or maintaining its existing infrastructure. Giving me the image of a child that moves his food around his plate to give it the impression it’s been consumed, but not actually eating it.

Relocated business example
Repurposed store
The old Debenhams another Derby project.
The Hippo Drone
The old Barclays Bank
Guild Hall
The new Council House
New purpose-built Bus station

As I continue on my walk which is no longer a simple loop, but me now walking up and down and around like you do in the aisles of a supermarket, by now my subconscious bias trying to find images that support my newfound notion. I couldn’t help but think to myself maybe Derby knows this and is happy to exist in such away. After all it is one of the few English town/cities that still embraces its industrial sector, with the likes of Bombardier and Rolls Royce still heavily present in Derby, refusing to be just a service provider like most others and instead being a hybrid of the two. Why couldn’t it be the same in regard to gentrification and traditionalism? Maybe Derby isn’t procrastinating through gentrification, but instead happy for it to internally differ. After all, like a patchwork quilt, which can have many differing sections that contrast or conflict, new or old still functions and serves a purpose. Just as Derby, with its diverse society, architecture and business’s, works too.

Pedestrianised. Embracing the new
Rejuvenating the old
Open to all
A variety of international cuisine.

Farley – 100463517

Cities Made of Playdough

All environments change over time but cities resemble this change at the most drastic level. Take Jerusalem which was destroyed and rebuilt twice, besieged 23 times and attacked 52 times yet is still standing today and currently being at heart of one of the most contested territories in the present day. If we take Derby albeit on a smaller scale, we can still observe visual changes and how that affects us sociologically.

I Went on Google maps and went around several areas in Derby that were of personal interest and used the feature where in some areas of the world, you can change the year so you get a completely different perspective of the world. Because of the nature of my virtual walk, I looked through this from a visual perspective. Much of the Environments I explored has a great deal of familiarity since I visualised these spaces from my commutes from Joseph Wright Centre to Derby Bus Station and the other way around when I was in College. I picked Derby for my virtual walk because it is one of the places I am most familiar with despite my rural residence elsewhere.

The photo on the Left is in 2016 whilst the other two are in 2019.

This building which is called Northgate house looks like a place where there people would work in the various offices which was once used hence the parked cars and a light near one of the entrances. Once this Building is empty and unoccupied, it becomes a place for more taboo sectors of the economy as shown by the triple X on one of the doors which in turn can repel most people away from the area. Once someone else rents/buys this property, it will bring new life, a new vibe, the taboo economy will retreat and the purpose of this building originally may be changed to something new e.g. university accommodation/private flats.

Picture years in order: 2008, 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

The picture on the top left look significantly different to the rest whilst the other four look similar on the left hand side with a clear and open cark park with the only difference being the stealthy rise of the price to park your car there. What the transformation seems to show is the process of this area turning from a place with various run down small businesses to a vibrant area with the buildings on the right showing a glimpse of modern art and owned by the expanding University of Derby. What this shows overall is that areas once occupied by manual jobs and working class people are now become centres for higher education and student life.

Picture Years in order: 2008. 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019

As with Northgate House spaces that get abandoned eventually get reused in this instance again being used to build university flats from what looks like to be a petrol station. The top and bottom picture on the right have areas that are under construction. Whilst this may create a feeling of excitement, it also feels somewhat unsettling to be around the construction areas due to the fragile nature of incomplete buildings.

Picture Years in order: 2008, 2012 2015 and 2019.

Some areas like Derby Cathedral Church rarely change over the years. In some ways this area has gotten a little more classical with the emergences of 19th century gas lamps surrounding the church. This area of effect also seems to affect the shops in the distance which have not changed in design. As long as traditional buildings such as churches are still being used which is visually resembling in it’s design, it tends to resist the visual changes that otherwise happen elsewhere.

Picture Years in order: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018

Sometimes, in order to get the image you want, you have to be in a specific geographical location on google maps as you can see with the funny angles. This space outside of Derby Assembly rooms which is officially known as Derby Market Place truly represents a huge pit of playdough which is used to form new structures by dedicated individuals such as Ferris Wheels with audio tours, International themed performances, ice skating (Not shown in the pictures above), Beer festivals and Amusement fairs plus much more. Eventually, these temporary structures of mass gatherings fall apart, fizzle away into magic dust and return back at a later date. Different events represent different levels of urban identity with the Ferris wheel representing the distinct identity of derby, Beer festivals representing the various regional identities around the United Kingdom and festivals such as the Ladyboys of Bangkok representing an international identity in this case being Thailand.

I want to a special shout out to the Quad in Derby. The Quad essentially serves as the inside version of the Derby Market Place. From what I have seen with the exception of the café, the rooms are largely generic except when there are special events such as there being a cinema or golf course. Reflective on the use of generic spaces/spaces for hire for special events reveals that the nomadic nature of many city dwellers in order to meet the enrichment demands of a more global urban population whether they are near or far.

The Picture on the left is in 2008 and the other one is in 2012.

When looking at the erection of tall buildings out of nowhere, it can give a completely different feel since once an area which you could see the trees and dual-carriageway junctions hundreds of meters away now feels more like you are in a maze at a theme park. You do have to meet peoples needs after all to make rush hour more bearable by building a bus station and hotel sandwich that tastes of playdough.

For better or for worse cities have to adapt to the changing world whether that be economic or social. The cycle of deterioration and revitalisation will continue regardless but we can all help to control this process by playing our part at both the ballot box and through our collective community spirit. Looking at the past versions of the same spaces do make me appreciate them a lot more since I can better understand the processes of how we came to today. Doing the walk virtually was also somewhat more distant since while it took me away from the problems with urban life, it did reduce the number of angles I could analyse the Sociology of Urban areas. I also learnt that how hard or soft the playdough is depends on the specific space. Generic spaces such as Derby Market Place have very soft playdough. Flats, offices and shops tend to have playdough that is a bit more stiff sometimes with a softer inside and places like churches are made of near petrified playdough which is very difficult to reassemble.

Derby will always be a city I will look at as a reflection of changes that happen in the wider world due to the vast interconnectivity whilst I retain both my sense of home and place elsewhere and avoid the chaos of more intense urban spaces around the country and around the world. The playdough will always be there but how we use it will be detrimental to the content of our urban spaces. Our ancestors will be watching…..

Christopher Brown – 100441551

Coalville: The town of memories and emotions.

Amber Stevens- 100479437

Ashby Road appears almost dead as I walk down it. The odd few cars speed past, pieces of litter dancing in the wind and some dilapidated houses still haven’t opened their curtains even though it is mid day. One of these houses reminds me of the many drunken walks back from the town’s pubs to my boyfriends house, and have witnessed my many emotions from my relationship. From happily walking back together full of laughter to furious rows over pointless disagreements, this road and particular house has seen it all. I walk further down the road and it is now impossible not to notice the huge pit wheel looming. The landmark of Coalville. The symbol of it’s past. The wheel seems sad as I walk past, unused now for many years and once was part of the thriving Snibston Colliery that employed thousands of men. My grandad holds completely different feelings to this part of the walk to myself. I was not born when the pits closed down so I hold this area with memories of drunkeness and the nerves I used to feel when I first started seeing my boyfriend and was making the walk up to his house, checking in my compact mirror that not a hair was out of place! He however, would hold this point of the walk with emotions and memories of his workplace and the times he shared with his colleagues. I pass the wheel, and move onto the old outbuildings that were once a part of the colliery, and inside my head I am thinking of the many people that once walked in and out of those buildings and the noise and life that was bustling around them. Now they are evidently silent and the silence is filled with my thoughts of laughter with my friends as an eleven year old walking past these buildings after a full day of playing on the park and possibly running away from a knock-a-door run prank. Innocent emotions and memories fill my head as I pass these buildings, and reminds me of the simple-ness of childhood.

As I venture further down the road, I pass the new car dealership garage, which has not been there for very long. This modern building as such does not spark any emotions or memories for me, but the site it stands on does. The car dealership stands on the site of the old bus station. The old derelict bus station in which I remember, as a teenager, my friend ran into at night as a dare. This brought back the feeling of adrenaline, and the enjoyment of foolishness with friends. When I was a young child I remember, being slightly scared of this huge bus station building. The huge buses stored inside slightly resembled monsters in a dark cave to a seven/eight year old. However, this fear has long left me as I have grown up. All I am left with is the memories from this site is of mischievous acts as a teen and irrational fear as a child.

Strolling past the car dealership, I come to a wall, probably about 100 years old, that stands near ASDA and the railway bridge. Immediately a smile stretches across my face as I remember all of those times that I met my boyfriend at this wall when we first started dating and would walk to his house together. This wall has seen me change from being a shy, demure person around him to being totally confident and carefree. As I walk past this wall, I wonder who built it and what it has seen in the changing years of the town. Most definitely the shift between the town being a tight mining community and coal supplier, to becoming a multi-cultural town where people are no longer as familair with eachother and the demise of coal usage and the decay of the town since the mines shut. Standing close to the wall is a railway bridge which still has tracks visible underneath. The tracks lead into the colliery which would have been busy transporting coal for many hours of the day 40 odd years ago. However, I have no memories of this but my father can recall trains coming in and out of Coalville, laden with coal. My memories of this bridge are very different- I associate this with the walk to the football ground where my dad manages and the feelings of excitement and nerves with my family about the games as we cross the bridge to get to the ground.

Carrying on from the bridge, nearly at the football ground. I walk past a small council residential area which now has overgrown grass verges and kids play areas. This area does not bring back too many fond memories, as I remember as a child being frightened of the children that used to play out here and they always seemed much tougher than me. Now I look back, I was just being a bit of a wuss. I also remember falling off my bike here as a child, and grazing my knee which hurt tremendously, and I was scared to get back on my bike for weeks after this. I keep on walking down the road, through a small pathway that has an old people’s home on one side and brown garden fencing on another. This pathway triggers back my unpleasant memories of vomiting after drinking at a football match on a sunny day.

Now, I have reached the end of the pathway and nearly concluded my walk. I cross a road, and see a house that immediately sparks unpleasant feelings of fear as soon as I notice that their gate is open. The house used to have a big dog that would roam the front driveway and would attempt to jump up and bark and growl at anyone who walked past. As a child I was very scared of this dog, and so was my mother so it made it even more terrifying. Now times have changed, and I imagine that the dog is no longer alive and if it was it would not trigger such fear or negative feelings from me now. I will always attach feelings of fear and anxiety with that house. As I reach the football ground, my walk has now reached its end.

My walk made me consider the memories that I have attached to buildings from both my childhood, and my growing up phase as a teen and young adult. Drawing upon the works of Stevenson’s ‘Emotional City’ and Caruso’s ‘Emotional City’ concepts has helped me to consider this. Memories and emotions have drastically changed as I have grew up- such as going from feelings and memories of irrational fears such as that of buses and monsters to memories and feelings of drunkenness and romance as a teenager. The past plays a big part in my walk, as the majority of buildings I pass are old and are a part of the towns history, although I do not have the memories of their glory and original use I have now attached my own onto this history.

Walking in the city center: hurry up!

First of all I thought this blog would talk about walking inside a city with my tourist eyes and analyzed it then. I started walking into Derby from my accommodation at Sir Peter Hilton, to the Bus Station. I really thought I was going to notice something new as I was in a different country than France. In addition, I live in the countryside in France, so it was definitely a massive change for me. However, when I started walking it wasn’t the fact of being in another country that made me most of a mark on how I moved in the city. Indeed, I noticed that my speed has changed. So I’m going to tell you in this blog, about my experience on my speed, but not just in Derby, because this phenomenon influences me in all the big cities.

Indeed, I’ve been living my whole life in the countryside surrounded by fields, alone without any neighbours. So when I go for a walk in the countryside there is nobody, I don’t rush because I enjoy the landscape, the animals and the moment. But I’ve noticed that even the smallest cites have changed. Moreover, today there are parks, green spaces, sidewalks and more shops in the city centre. I also notice that there are more people walking but, on the other hand, I walk much slower in the countryside because it’s still more rural than Derby for example. When I’m in a city centre in a bigger city the atmosphere is more hectic because of the traffic, pedestrians, bicycles, shops and pubs. There is more industrial life is city while in the countryside it is more a natural life.

When I travelled to London or Liverpool, I felt an urban energy and I was naturally walking faster and hurry. So I started to wonder about this interaction between the structure of the urban environment, with sidewalks, roads, and the way we walk. I  have been in England for two months so I had more time to think about it and experienced it.

On this picture, I’m getting closer to the city center of Derby on a Friday afternoon, yet I’m not rushing I have nothing to do instead of walking, but the closer I get to the center, the faster my pace accelerates. I passed through people, I avoided the slowest walkers and felt the weight of the buildings above me, which is kind of oppressing. Indeed, I feel that everybody is walking faster than in the countryside.  This phenomenon was the same when I went for a walk in Liverpool or in London, and when I think about it, in all the big cities I’ve already been to.

Every time I walk around a city it happens again. It is therefore not for nothing that it is said that the people of the city are impatient, at least in France. Our environment influences our existence at a given time, with the hustle and bustle around us, buses, cars, taxis, the subway, feel compelled to go fast.

For example if I did not want to miss the bus I had to go fast, if I wanted to cross the road in the allotted time I had to go fast as well. The city is fast because of its urbanization. Personally the fact that the city is noisier due to traffic or even population density affects my speed.

On the other hand, I did not feel this in the whole city of Derby. Indeed, there are more peaceful places in the big cities, in the parks, on the riverside, where there are fewer shops, less traffic. So I notice that my speed slowed down when I was walking near to the Silk Mill park and the Derwent. Seeing animals, and water flowing gently was very relaxing. In fact, the rate of urbanization really has an effect on people’s Walking.

I don’t really know if pollution has an impact on everyone, but for me, as an asthmatic person, I feel the pollution of a city on my breath and I feel obliged to walk faster to enter shops, supermarkets, to avoid outdoor pollution and the urbanization of cities. Even if in Derby it wasn’t really the case because there isn’t a lot of traffic in the city center apart from bus and taxis.

But in the bigger cities, like London or Liverpool, stress and excitement also intervene in the way I walk in a more urban environment. The fact that there is more traffic pedestrians can’t cross the roads as they want. Moreover, for me the city is too noisy, because of its urbanization, traffic, constructions and population density. The noise of cars, motorcycles, buses, oppressed and annoyed me a little. As I was not used to such traffic I felt forced to walk faster than everyone. It makes me maybe unsociable, but I felt obliged to accelerate to avoid this noisy situation. That’s why on the way back when I passed on the Victoria street, in Derby, I was walking even faster to get back to my accommodation.

But I found a solution to successfully enjoy my walks in the big cities, my headphones. I find it very paradoxical because, I flee the noises of the city, but at the same time, I put others sounds in my ears. But at least I like what I listen to. Moreover, I also noticed that my speed changed according to the music that I was listening to. That is to say that, I walked faster when I listened to Beyoncé than to Adele. That shows that human being are very sensitive to what surrounds them and transmit it physically, by walking faster for example.

Louise Fradin

ID: 100527867

The Breakdown of the City of Derby: and the Citizen’s Response to the Disused, Urban Spaces

This blog will focus on derelict buildings and empty shops on the high street in the city centre and it’s outskirts of Derby. Ruined, deserted buildings such as the ‘Assembly Rooms’ and the ‘Hippodrome’ which were previously cultured venues but are now nothing but ruins. The walk will also investigate how the citizens utilise the disused, empty urban spaces.

Uttoxeter New Road was the beginning of my walk, strolling past the derelict factory decorated with unappreciated arts. I walk on Mercian Way Road heading towards the London Road Community Hospital. Which remains a rugged Victorian architectural building with hot pepper roofs. The two ancient, lonesome buildings offer gothic characteristics which is captivating to the human eye. The two buildings lure me in to appreciate subtle details the former hospital possess. Whilst it’s surroundings in dust and rocks from the demolition of other parts of the hospital. Walking on London Road is the equivalent to travelling back into time to observe what urban life was like previously. Such urban spaces is a comparison to an elaborate museum as Lefebvre (19698) would describe it as. Proceeding to observe my current surroundings and observing the historical buildings, I notice a father and his juvenile son appreciate the former hospital across the road as they exit an occasional event. The modern cars parked outside the former, outdated hospital premises portrays a juxtaposition between the past and the present. Exiting London Road onto a smaller, quieter street approaching towards the Intu Shopping Centre. There was not many pedestrians walking by or across the dual-carriage way outside the shopping centre.

Approaching the city centre and passing by multiple shops, I had noticed many of them were empty or covered in ‘CLOSING DOWN’ and/ or ‘SALE’ signs. The closed dessert shop on London Road was boarded up, the assumption that came to mind was to prevent squatting and how the city is planned to disadvantage the homeless, Watson (2009). The poor congregate outside the shop’s entrances that provide limited shelter and cocoon themselves into tired quilts and blankets.

Walking through the Corn Market Street, I observed the abandoned venue which is located in the city centre and is known as the Assembly Rooms. The building is dull, dark and lacks character which was rebuilt in 1977. The surrounding area of the damaged property is deserted and is ignored by walking passengers. Thus modern cities require creative populations according to Landry (1978). After spending a few moments observing the former cultural venue, I approached to the Sadler Gate high street, looking above shop windows. I had noticed that a lot of the buildings were constructed in the Georgian and Victorian era. Although, walking down a narrow, short high street, many of the stores and buildings were empty, or closing down. A homeless man sits outside a shop looking at every passenger that could possibly give him food or spare change. Seeing such struggle from another individual had made me felt grief and upset. The destitute man utilised the space to help him find the funds in order to survive another night.

As I walked past the derelict performance venue, the Hippodrome, which was also previously a Bingo hall before an incident of fire. The “undesirables” lingered around the building , sitting outside the boarded up main entrance. A disused area which is consumed by the homeless and the unemployed, a social space that they could call their own. The surrounding areas around the Hippodrome makes me encounter the feeling of uneasiness and intimidation. As individuals deemed as ‘delinquents’ congregate this particular location. Two men shouted me for my attention, however, I proceeded to walk and avoid interaction.  Heading towards the end of my urban walk, I walk back to the ruined, disused factory on Uttoxeter New Road. The walls covered with unappreciated arts which is often shunned at, as it is considered to be a type of vandalism. Moreover, the locals are utilising the old factory’s walls to accommodate their hobbies, Lefebvre (1968) explains that urban environments deliver pleasure to it’ residence and tourists. Creating a transformation to the tired, old building in a non-conventional approach. The premises of where the old factory is located provides an area for the deviant locals to meet and/ or hang around at. Which provides a sense of urban community amongst groups of people. Such unsupervised area invites delinquent actions such as substance abuse and graffiti.

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