Pockets of history in urban spaces

Viewing Derby as a hollow city, a playground for study. I became familiar with the exterior but not which lies beneath. My walk focused on architecture and its hidden history. Stories shared by colleagues are heard above the traffic at the beginning of the walk at the University of Derby’s copper building. Locals fixate on mobile phones and earphones to drown out the sensory stimuli from the city.

Entering the city through Friar gate road showcases a diversity of culture. Restaurants ranging from English to Bangladeshi and South American cuisine demonstrate the heterogenous population. The homeless walk the streets attempting to converse with strangers who resort to fake phone calls to avoid crossing paths. Ground level consists of services for locals and tourists alike, every corner consists of a new shopping experience. Clearly used by those carrying a multitude of bags.

Those crowded streets began to dilute with extension allowing for the audio of frequent phrases to catch my ears. Mentions of the weather and the speech of everyday forgets the history surrounding these individuals. Rounding the corner back towards Friar Gates instils a calm atmosphere after experiencing the rush of the city. The boundary post representing growth, both in area and opportunity. Currently standing at 78.02km² Derby has continued from a trading industry to one of public services.

The old boundary post

Whilst remaining as one of the last industrial cities it is instead the service economy which is most commonly found. In plain sights stands The Greyhound. Erected in 1734 The Greyhound is a lasting stomping ground for locals and visitors. Hidden beneath the noise pollution lies the verbal exchange of prisoners. Following their last walk to Vernon Gate, prisoners follow a walk passing many architectural significance’s. Structures ignored as they walk towards their grave, the first hanging taking place in 1833-1834 continuing until 1907.

The Greyhound: taken using HUJI app to replicate the vision to that experience in 1999.

Planning application received by the City council in 1990 is evidence of the redevelopment taking place in the area. The front structure of Vernon Gate remains, masking the modern scene behind. Large white constructs hold services ran by modern technology. Dentists and Financial advisers open as usual on a Tuesday afternoon.

Vernon Gate

As we began to retrace the steps towards Friar gate tales of drowned prisoners escaped through pursued lips. This led to me to thought of morality. Is changing the architecture morally acceptable? If we see to literature architecture and urban planning should be construed with public input as spoken by Lefebrve (1996). Our right to the city should allow us to change the environment to suit our needs. Using this incentive, I continued to walk on the same street. Noticing buildings with plaques containing previous occupations. Buildings donated by the church remain in use however, they are now home to modern opportunities. These memories are unheard of by many as they become covered by the need for services. Placing myself in the imagery of the past I began to use apps to recreate aged pictures. Is modern technology replacing architecture and history?

Figure of heads near The Greyhound.

The figure of heads beneath the tree have barcodes to explain the story, however little attention was paid towards them. Despite this history was still present. The bridge no longer used, stands strong above the pedestrians. Architecture which has been officially protected. Friar gate has existed as a conservation area since 1969. An area in need of preservation or enhancement as allocated by Derby city Council. But can we enhance history without displacing from the truth? The relocation of the headless cross would say not.

Is this story unique to Derby and Friar Gate? Since 1976 Derby has a twin town called Osnabrück. Established by the government to generate ideas and innovation emphasis is placed upon the involvement of young people. Derby’s city centre in need of development has been a project of design for some University of Derby students. This involvement in planning can be seen as evidence for our Right to the city.

However, I remain adamant. The walk demonstrated a collage of modern and historical architecture. Historical posts are being used as tourist attractions, where visitors use modern technology to check in and use apps to take disorientated photos of proof. Therefore, is the architecture remaining telling of its history? And can we find true presentations of history in urban spaces?

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