A Look around Laganside

Rather than respond to the individual requests for information on John’s book, a general note to say that you can order it form his website: www.johnbaucher.com. The website is now up and running and looking good!

Since I am so shamelessly flogging this, I might as well mention that the foreword is provided by Katy Radford, Social Anthropologist at the Irish School of Ecumenics at TCD. She notes about Laganside ‘This is a space where citizens may choose to look back on the past as they attempt to find a place in which to carve themselves a shared future.’

  • It does worry me that a social anthropologist is reduced to writing this kind of tosh. In what sense is Laganside ‘a space where citizens may choose to look back on the past’? Laganside is a concrete tundra which exists purely for the benefit of developers, hiding behind the slogans of ‘regeneration’ and ‘renewal’, with a few kneejerk seahorses thrown in. If the Laganside Corporation were really so aesthetically driven, why did they chose to stick the monstrosity that is the Lagan Bridge in the middle of it?

  • Miss Fitz

    Rupert
    What an amazing comment! What else would a social anthropologist be interested in, if not the changing nature of space, and the new colonisation of the same.

    Even if the Laganside was a ‘concrete tundra’ which is isnt, a social anthropologist would still be interested in seeking the diversity within that space, recording it and analysing it.

    I take it you’re not an anthropologist then! 🙂

  • Setanta

    Miss Fitz

    Could you tell us a bit more about your interest in this as it is the second post today giving a positive spin on Laganside?

    ‘concrete tundra’ might be an over the top description for Laganside but not by much. I dont know of any Belfast people who view it in a wholly positive way, never mind speak of it as a tourist attraction…

    And the view id even less positive in the established communities that live alongside it – or perhaps are usually fenced off from it.

  • Miss Fitz

    Setanta
    I have no vested interest, if that’s what you mean.

    Like most things, I stumbled into this. I post some photos on Flickr, was asked to join the H&W group, went and took some photos, got asked to the book launch, and got really excited about the book.

    I think the debate on the other thread demonstrates that this is another case of one man’s meat being another man’s poison. Belfast is either a concrete, monstrous hole or an exciting enchanting city waking up from its long sleep having bitten the poison apple. (Oh, I like that)

    So, my interest is really in the debate, the commentary, the positions, and the willingness of the people of the area to get involved with John’s project. Also, the re-colonisation, as Katy Radford puts it, who goes there now? Will it remain public space? Can it become the basis for a shared neutral space?

    The easiest thing for anyone to do is gurn. I noted also in the other thread that I watched Dublin change unrecognisably in 30 years, and I dont think anyone consciously recognised and recorded it. This is a conscious, artistic, humanistic effot to engage and record for posterity

  • rapunsel

    “This is a space where citizens may choose to look back on the past as they attempt to find a place in which to carve themselves a shared future.”

    What space is she talking about– the buildings or the limited public “public open space” surrounding them?

    I walk over to the Waterfront several lunchtimes a week — what;s most pleasant about the walk is the exercise and the view of the Lagan and the people watching that one engages in — especially when the weather is fine. I get no sense that this is an important physical space for the citizens of Belfast — especially when it is put to limited use. The Queens Festival I think had an excellent piece of pyrotechnical thatre down theer a couple of years back and there has been the odd event since — but this whole area isn’t aimed at the needs of citizens to have any sort of shared future– it’s aimd at accommodating the needs of business — pedestrians don’t get a look in around this part of the city — the car is king.

  • Miss Fitz!

    I think anthropology is a perfectly worthy and important discipline, but Katy Radford’s comments sounded to me like the sort of old flannel a third-rate property developer would come out with, corporate crapspeak rather than piercing academic insight.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are bits of Laganside I really like, but as an area it just lacks cohesion. The ‘girl with the hoop’ statue is stunning, but so tragically, stupidly located, and looks as if it’s been dumped there as an afterthought, like an Oscar at the end of a cluttered mantlepiece. And they haven’t finished yet. Apparently the whole of Middlepath Street is to be ‘redeveloped’, including the car park there at Bridge End, with a hotel planned and of course more bloody apartments.

    Just out of interest, what would other bloggers like to see at Laganside that MIGHT actually connect the area to Belfast’s past?

  • Shuggie McSporran

    Rupert & Rapunsel

    Absolutely correct. Laganside Development was a wasted opportunity, there’s feck all there except town houses, turn key apartments and half empty office and retail space interrupted by multi-lane traffic.

    There are opportunities to take the odd nice photograph, but if you walk the entire length from the Odyssey to Central Station you don’t even pass a solitary shop. Photographers who smoke be warned, bring supplies with you.

    But it isn’t all bad news for the people who live in the apartments – you have good access to the M3 and can drive to the Abbeycentre in a matter of minutes.

  • IJP

    While there is much more good to be said about the Laganside than bad, I have to say I basically agree with Rupert re the comments. What does all this stuff mean?!

    And out of interest, do people really want a shared future? Or is it more a case of making sure I and my family are alright and never mind anyone else?

    There… a debate about the Laganside turned into a basic question about human nature… perhaps there’s something in this social anthropology lark after all…!

  • Miss Fitz

    IJP
    A copy of the book in the post……

  • moochin photoman

    I have not posted until now because i had a bit o a hangover yesterday!
    I have spent over 18 months involved with this book project.
    The book was/is intended as a record of the city as it under goes change.It is a record of the present past for future generations and i hope that it will be seen in this light(sorry bout the pun).
    Undoubtably there have been mistakes made….Writers Square opposite St Annes springs to mind as that has had 3 or 4 revamps since it was first created.
    Early planning and consultation is the key to any future developments and there are signs that this process of engagement and dialogue is taking place.
    The Ulster Architectural Heritage Society have been at the forefront of this dialogue, the proposal for North St Arcade has already been changed because of the lobbying by UAHS and other interested bodies in the Cathedral Quarter.
    It will be interesting to see what is made of the Titanic Quarter and how sympathetically our industrial heritage is treated.
    If anyone is interested there are lots of shared spaces experiences that can be attended. Some more successful than others…..have a look around during the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival or the Open House Music festival and you will see the area buzzing in an (almost) european manner.

  • smirkyspice

    your new website is beautiful mooch, it’s obvious you’ve put a lot of hard work into this project, well done, congrats 🙂

    and now I know where five ferra poun fc comes from – i’d imagined from buying a bag of apples at st george’s market but noooooo haha 😉

  • dp

    A few years ago was there not some talk about opening up the Farset River under High Street and creating a pedestrian boulevard with trees and footbridges over the river. Done properly, this would seem a 1st class idea!

  • moochin photoman

    smirkyspice….
    Thanks :-)…….
    there was a brief period when the lads were still selling on royal ave that you could get 7 lighters ferra poun, tho you ended up with no nasel hair often enough!!!!
    dp…….
    I know of a couple of a coupleof artists who made a trip under the farset producing a video of it.The mad gets encountered a few probs during the course of their expedition and were turned back by suspect gases (my suspicion is that it was their own but thats conjecture!)
    Apparently there is a video available of this little trip.

  • Miss Fitz

    Moochin
    Is nasel hair a little like navel supremacy?

  • Dr Strangelove

    Shuggie

    “But it isn’t all bad news for the people who live in the apartments – you have good access to the M3 and can drive to the Abbeycentre in a matter of minutes”

    Jaysus, how bad must that location be when the Abbeycentre becomes the destination of choice.