Regeneration

A Parisian discovery…

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20130409-195703.jpgI am in Paris for a few days, a city that I like to think I have a reasonable feel for, but today proved that you can always discover something new, even in a city you think you know…

New York is well known for its HighLine or ‘park in the sky’ – I am looking forward to seeing it in the summer when we are there as a family as I have heard so many positive things about it. However, today I discovered Paris’s own HighLine – la promenade plantee. This is a similar thing – a former railway line and viaduct in a city environment that has been formed into an amazing linear park. In addition the arches below have also been refurbished and created into workshops and retail space for artists and artisans. This in fact was the original High Line, built sixteen years before the New York model, and apparently it served as inspiration to it’s American counterpart.

The promenade stretches for almost 5 kilometers across the 12th arrondissement following the path of the retired ligne de Vincennes railway track from Bastille to the boulevard Périphérique. It is highly popular with runners as well as for ‘promenading’ and was quite busy mid morning when we were walking it. It is also beautifully planted and in places you would be hard pushed to believe that you weren’t in a larger garden rather than on a city viaduct!

20130409-195454.jpgIt is great to see regeneration on this scale in a city – the walkway itself is great, but the conversion of the arches below is simply stunning and provides fantastic space for new businesses. Sadly I can’t see this level of planning commitment or general vision in the UK – somehow I feel the use of bulldozers would have been more likely?

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Another great ‘addition’ for Nottingham

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I was lucky enough this week to be invited to the official opening of the ‘new’ Newton and Arkwright building at Nottingham Trent University. The building has been in use for some time now but was due an official handover.

The event was very well attended, with the official duties being carried out by the  University’s Chancellor, Sir Michael Parkinson, together with special guest Sir David Attenborough.

The buildings have undergone a £90 million transformation to create a fabulous environment for learning in a far greener building – surely the best type of regeneration! The Grade Two-Listed Arkwright building, which was built in 1887, and the Newton building, which was added in 1956, now boast one of the UK’s largest sedum roofs – with plants growing on the roof. The link section (designed by Hopkins Architects) is also a stunning and light environment that manages to bring two very different buildings together.

Sir David commented:

“You, amazingly, are not only in the heart of a great city but, in some miraculous way, the architect has created this space out of what people thought until that point was fully built up. What could be more exciting, luxurious and exhilarating than a great space like this in the heart of the city?”

Sir Michael also accepted an award on behalf of the University from the Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA) for the architectural excellence of the renovation.

When I think back to the 1980’s when I was a student at Trent the campus was a very different place – the City and the University should be rightly proud of what has been achieved here.