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Travelogue : Edinburgh 1/3

Over the summer, I had visited Edinburgh. The prospect of a new city always excites me – The new city,  people, culture and their bearing on its buildings, of course. As I stepped into the Scottish city, the first thing that caught my eye about the city was its Duality – the ability of the city to balance the antiquated with the recent. So what enables this co-operative existence ?

The city quite beautifully balances the old with the new and is just another city of the world that is undergoing a time warp. Similar to that in Barcelona and London, amongst others, the shift in paradigm is becoming more and more evident.

The city is dotted with cottages and public buildings with stone arcades and spires, shingled roofs and stone textures that speak of eras bygone. parallelly, there are contemporary explorations with Enric Miralles’ Parliament Building being the most notable. While the Castle sits aloft a rock, towering over the entire city, the Parliament building lies on a flat plain shadowed by Arthur’s seat. Both buildings are iconic, resonate the era in which they were conceived, yet there is no competition between the two.


Edinburgh Castle; source : Wikipedia

Image result for scottish parliament edinburgh

Scottish Parliament; source : google

Another micro example of this duality exists in the shop fronts. As one walks along the streets, the many shops are adorned with glazed fronts, brightly coloured frames and awnings. One just has to look above the eye level to see that the upper floors of the buildings remain intact with their stone masonry walls and intricate windows lined with blooming flowers.


The arcaded windows of yesteryear : Now fitted with glazed panels and  sleek, steel handles


The Shopfronts that expose the time warp

What happens to the identity of a city when the old isn’t crumbling and the new keeps growing ?

The resulting identity is ambiguous and one does not feel a stark disparity within the city. The old and the new seemingly co-exist. There is a conscious attempt to preserve the heritage that supersedes the usually prevalent neglect. The gap between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ is smoothened and this ambiguity allows for the growth of a city to be seamless, with time. In contrast, the cities with planned/ unplanned halves expose a tug of war for an Identity.

This duality in existence imposes itself onto the public perception. The city now is perceived as a whole, rather than one of parts. Although the city contains many distinct parts, diametrically opposite at times, the ability for the inhabitants to perceive them holistically has a strong impact on the urban fabric. This will result in a growth of the city in an implosive manner, rather than stratified rings around the ‘existing’ city.

Watch this space to explore the tones of Duality. Parts 2 & 3 coming up soon.

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