Wednesday, 20 April 2016


It's unfashionable, I know, but I'm going to miss the St. James Centre when it's gone. Demolition preparation has begun, and it is closing for good next month, when the long process of dismantling it will begin.  

In (soon-to-be-only-a) memory of it, and of Edinburgh's postwar utopian concrete dream, I have been looking through some of my brutalist/modernist photo frenzies of the past few years (random selections on a crappy phone camera). Apart from the sheer orgiastic authenticity of these concrete monoliths, I don't know quite why I love it all so much - perhaps because I think of postwar concrete buildings as a kind of marker for what was lost in the war (often literally, as replacements for bombed buildings - hence London being uglier than Paris, etc.) and for the egalitarian, civic-minded hopes of those postwar decades. Glassy, sandstone, privatised cubes (or spirals) don't really cut it as markers of either memory or hope; the best that can be said of the replacement is that it will no doubt be replaced itself within a decade or two (such is the cynical, short-termist modus operandi of investment groups behind developments like this) - hopefully by that point, it will be a case of "come back state/council-led concrete building projects, all is forgiven".

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