A couple of weeks ago on a Tuesday, SGSAH hosted an event: Regenerative Practices through Embodiment, a workshop for researchers working with the notion of regeneration and its relationship to the human body. The panellists were diverse in their research. They included PhD candidate in English Literature Martina Saric (UoG), PhD candidate in Creative Writing and Urban Design Jeremy Hawkins (UoG), Dr. Angeliki Sioli, assistant professor in Architecture (Delft University of Technology) and myself, a PhD candidate in Creative Assemblages and Urban Space (UWS). Through the workshop, regeneration was positioned as a practice and way of thinking that could guide holistic ways of doing research and understanding places.
After its completion , the event left me feeling inspired. It showcased that regeneration and its open goal of ‘improving the quality of life’, lent itself to being the catalyst to a diverse set of research approaches. Not only can regeneration then be understood as a practice of bringing underutilised assets back into productive use, but it can also be a way of thinking and shape how we see ourselves stand in relation to the environment around us. In essence, the event tuned into discussing the value of the senses in the understanding of places.
Thinking about which senses we are engaging with when traversing and existing in spaces can give us an insight into how our experience might be multidimensional, and how different spatial features can determine quality of living. To make this idea more concrete, we could take a closer look at a contemporary Scottish initiative.
Dandelion is a creative programme in Scotland that promotes the concept of ‘sow, grow, share’, through engaging with food, sharing ideas and coming together in celebration. By delivering a host of projects related to urban gardening and the growing of crops across the summer of 2022. One of these projects is the Unexpected Gardens initiative, an ambitious project to plant edible gardens across 13 locations across Scotland with the aim of transforming unused and derelict spaces into gathering spots fit for creation, engagement, and education (Dandelion 2022). The project was set up in partnership with the GalGael Trust in Glasgow to promote the practice of gardening among the local community and educate on ways to preserve traditional food techniques.
One of the gardens created is situated in Govan, in the yard of the GalGael Trust on Ibrox Terrace. Once a former timber storage facility, the site now houses thirteen timber posts, a welfare cabin, tool shed, and outdoor kitchen – all with the purpose of celebrating shared local cooking traditions and coming together as a community (UNBOXED 2022).
The re-use of formerly unused spaces that serves as the basis for the Unexpected Gardens initiative brings a sense of utility back to the local environment. Yet, going beyond this, it’s intriguing to think about other, perhaps more veiled, factors that shape the experience of this garden. For instance, to consider the notion of working with our hands to generate produce, and being mindful in the way we plant and engage with crops. Or, about the way that the project – in working with natural sound absorbing materials – interacts with its former shipyard neighbourhood, historically typified by sounds of heavy industry. Or, reflect on the inevitable timescale that is attached to this project. Essentially, by sowing, growing, harvesting and preparing the crops, we engage in a conscious relationship with them to see the project to completion. As if almost inevitably, all these notions point to a degree of community sensitivity and commitment that the project helps to foster. By being mindful to different sensorial avenues of projects and spaces, we might uncover new ways of understanding relatively unexplored layers to the experience of place.