‘Candleriggs’ is a large vacant site located in the Merchant city, Glasgow. Among a mixture of failed urban redevelopments, the site has remained ‘dead’ for many years and received little attention. Bordered up by large opaque walls, this site and many sites like this are often labelled as ‘waste’ and sit to fester for years until they gain lucrative value or investments from real estate.
In 2013, a study found that within Glasgow, over 60 percent of inhabitants lived within 500 metres of a derelict site and drew a strong link between mental and physical health and vacant land.
‘If everyone was afforded equitable good access to green space it is estimated that the cost‐averted saving to the health service could be in the order of £2.1 billion per annum’.
By exploring and highlighting these rifts in the city, rather than obstructing them, we can create wider discourses around the issues which surround them and find greater long-term solutions instead of gentrifying them under what planners disguise as ‘regeneration’.
In 2015, The American Institute of Architects announced that out of 105,847 architects only 10% were ethnic minorities and 17% females. The UK is not dissimilar from this statistic.
This reveals a clear bias in the way that our urban environments are constructed and who they favour. The whitewashing of public space in western society over marginalised groups is rife.
In Han Van Dijk’s ‘Colonizing the Void’ he refers to how ‘colonists were attracted by the “empty” spots still to be found a hundred years ago on globes and maps’. The situation in the 21st century is not far from this, it has only transitioned to colonising urban areas which marginalised group inhabit, who are pushed further to the periphery through rising rent prices and dissolution of local communities and culture.
These open spaces, known to some planners as ‘voids’ are primarily bordered up to keep out what William H Whyte (writer of Social Life of Small Urban Spaces) describes as ‘undesirables’ and offer no insight or collaborative input from local communities.
The quality and quantity of public space clearly demonstrates the relationship between local-governments and their citizens. Our freedom of movement is just as detrimental as our freedom of speech. It is this power-play that makes the public space a political space.
This project proposes the opportunity for more temporary uses for these temporary voids during their intermittent periods of vacancy, which don’t favour capitalist motives.
This photograph depicts a fake facade that was printed and then placed over a pre-existing advertisement to give a false impression that the onlooker could see into the space on the other side.
By creating what are known as ‘interventions’ around these voids, we are able to bring more attention to them and create wider discourse among the public in regards to what their potential uses could be, for community driven purposes - not capital gain.
The Buddleia plant that is abundant in these spaces could be seen to highlight these issues and that these neglected sites exist along with the communities surrounding them.
The voids found throughout Glasgow visualise the abundance of issues which need addressing within our political, systematic, prejudice, racial and anthropocentric attitudes towards contemporary society.
By increasing pressure on governments and highlighting these voids through interventions, society could be encouraged to place more value on the quality and quantity of public space in cities, rather than on consumer value.
Rather than fuelling gentrification and the white-washing of marginalised areas, collaboration could be encouraged with local communities in order redistribute the power back to the plaza and the people who dwell within it.
The public domain ought to be a collaborative, environment. Inhabitants of the city should be able to partake in it.