A hand-made little triptych of books compiled as an antidote to a professional requirement to hammer a square peg into a round hole by having to squeeze seemingly quantifiable objective data out of a data set comprising the historic built environment of Leeds.
THE three books around three themes each represented by a volume; namely:
1) The city has been built – in fact assembled – over time (standing evidence remaining from roughly over a period of 500 years) by a bunch of important MEN – leading lights of their day, these fathers of industry, proponents of progress, speculated, accumulated, tore down and built up , bit by bit in starts and jolts the metropolitan district of today. To assist in this complex birth an instrumental role was played by the numerous men employed in the building trades and manufacture of materials. But the evolution of the city over the last 500 years is also an evolution of a specific profession, the ARCHITECT. And it is to these DEAD FAMOUS fellows we dedicate the first volume.
2) It is then time to turn our gazes to the buildings of the city themselves. Why is what is here, here? What survives and how come? What are the in numerable number of structures about to tell us. The choice of case-studies may seem completely arbitrary but I assure it is not – the writing was quite literally on the wall and I just took notice. What fascinates me is how the historic buildings that are still with us have managed to cling on. What fortunate co-incidences, what innate quality, what determined effort.
From observation I posit that there are broadly two sorts of stories in this - the first one around ‘I HAVE SURVIVED’ in its various guises in volume 2.
I am a survivor: My original function still gives me a viable purpose. OR
I am iconic and / or ‘Monumental’ in a way that can be preserved of ‘aesthetic purposes’ a local landmark, a significant blip on the skyline or a focal point on a public square. OR
I am actually a MUSEUM.
3) And the second story, which I feel obliged to call ‘I HAVE EVOLVED’ is sketched out in volume 3.
Something about my scale and quality made retention and renewal, evolution and extension or tarting up and transformation more appealing than my wholesale removal.
Either it’s just pot-luck or I have sustainable qualities.
Finally I suspect that there is a need for some further research required to showcase faces and voices (and perhaps even a few places now lost to us) not included in vols. 1 to 3. Just to show that the cities of dead famous men may not tell the whole story and in order to advance the course of better and more representative urban future, we may learn plenty from what has gone on before us.