#1 – Some developments just don’t make sense

19 March 2022 – massive thank you to the 50 people who have so far subscribed to my site! Every post like and comment (the latter are more scarce) matters hugely to me, and I hope you find my 🄲🄾🄽🅃🄴🄽🅃 at least a tiny bit interesting, entertaining, helpful, or inspiring.

Now, to the point:

Real estate developments divide into those that make sense and those that don’t make sense. Any site redevelopment, regardless of its size – from micro to large scale – can be classified according to these two categories. Fortunately, the Big Build in Lewes Road, Brighton, belongs to those that make sense.

Further examples: the development of the land north of the existing UMK (Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, English: Nicolaus Copernicus University) campus makes sense because that campus was specifically laid out in such way in the fabric of the 1970s Torun that its situation allows for the expansion of the university that keeps the buildings together, as a continuous whole. Stylistic choices require a separate consideration, and a rant is compulsory if we are to regard the ‘renovations’ done to the Chemistry Department (Wydzial Chemii) buildings in Gagarina street and the UMK Aula (assembly hall). However, I do side with Collegium Humanisticum (2010-2011), though rather not with the Biology and Earth Sciences (BiNoZ) department building, which was finished in 2006 and it looks very much like it was built in 2006 (that is, not good).

(I’m not the only one who feels this way about the Biology building. I quote a 2012 article from Gazeta Wyborcza Torun: “Ten dziwny gmach, odwrócony tyłem do głównej osi campusu, był pierwszą rysą na starannie zaplanowanej strukturze miasteczka. Zacytujmy fotografa i grafika Jacka Chmielewskiego, który swego czasu recenzował go w Gazecie: -Budynek przytłacza. Jest mieszaniną stylów. Na jego elewacji znajdziemy zarówno element jak najbardziej współczesny w postaci wycinka przeszklonej kuli, jak i także pilastry narożne w stylu jak najbardziej historyzującym (…). Nie wiemy, którędy iść do dawnej części BiNoZ. (…) Krótko mówiąc, to największa porażka architekta, gdy korzystający z budynku musi pytać o drogę.” Translated into English: This strange edifice, with its back turned to the main axis of the campus, was the first crack in the carefully planned-out structure of the university town. Let’s quote the photographer and graphic designer Jacek Chmielewski, who once upon a time reviewed the building in Gazeta: ‘The building overwhelms. It is a mixture of styles. On its elevation we will find both contemporary elements such as the segment of a glass sphere, and corner pilasters in a very much historicising style (…) We do not know which way we should go to get to the old part of the Biology and Earth Sciences Department. (…) In short, it is the greatest failure of an architect when the user of the building has to ask for directions.).

Another example: the housing blocks right outside my home and a bit further up the street by the tram terminal in Slowackiego street, Torun. That ‘development’ (I would rather call it ‘crime’) makes little sense, if any at all. The unsightly blocks with the texture of a standard insulated block (=no texture at all; if it was plywood, it’d look both better and more interesting) in questionable hues of orange took the place of a large playground, car park, and two football fields, one large and one small one. It got rid of some valuable trees and added tons of kostka Bauma (Bauma cube) and concrete to the neighbourhood. And guess what arose last year, and even before, as an issue to be addressed in this part of Torun? Parents complained that there is no playground near where they live. A proposal was made to replace a green area further down the road, opposite Koszary (Mickiewicza street, area west of the Arts Department building at the Reja/Mickiewicza intersection) – an area which I really like and consider it valuable for its greening, so aesthetic and calming, properties. Guess what? You should’ve never built housing blocks in a part of town that is already dense in housing. Otherwise you’re turning it into slums with people and flats but no amenities. I guess everyone should get a solid education within the fields of geography, architecture, and urban studies, so that thinking geographically and laterally is something everyone in the country is capable of and utilises in all aspects of their life. Otherwise we’re destined to become like the classic West – short-sighted and a-little-too-late.

But the subject of my tirade isn’t the BiNoZ building, or even the crime against the neighbourhood committed in my part of Bydgoskie Przedmiescie more than 10 years ago (the blocks I just discussed). It’s the Big Build of Brighton – a redevelopment of the Preston Barracks area adjacent to Lewes Road, between the big Sainsbury’s and Moulsecoomb train station. Unfortunately, this post developed (excuse the pun, or, half-pun?) in such way that there’s no room for writing about the Big Build here – so please do check back in some weeks into the future, once I’ve written and posted about the Big Build itself. Or, if you haven’t already, subscribe to email notifications about new posts on kotersey.com. In settings you can choose to receive immediate, daily, or weekly notifications (I usually prefer to have weekly notifications, as I don’t have the headspace to read all posts at once).

Published by kotersey

Graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a First in geography, and from the University of Brighton with a Master's in history of design and material culture. Probably drinking iced coffee and thinking about buildings.

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