Nottinghams Identity As A Cultural Quarter Cultural Studies Essay

In Autumn 2006, Experience Nottinghamshire, the official tourer board for the county, devised and set about a research study aimed at capturing perceptual experiences of Nottingham metropolis from its occupants, visitants and investors. It ‘s cardinal determination: ‘Nottingham is rather an anon. metropolis. ‘ ( Percepts of Nottingham Report, 2006 )

The distinguishable features that defined a sense of topographic point in Nottingham in the yesteryear, were based mostly around traditionally happening industrial activities and accordingly since the diminution of Nottingham ‘s nineteenth century position as an industrial hub, the metropolis has suffered from a deficiency of individuality. Even specific countries that have retained their alone architectural characteristics, such as the historic Lace Market one-fourth, are now under menace from progressively generic, modern developments that sterilize the sensory phenomena, that has characterized the metropolis in the yesteryear.

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Like many metropoliss, over the past decennary the City Council has been forced to reevaluate Nottingham ‘s properties and implement a broad scope of enterprises to turn to this black image and raise the profile of Nottingham. From betterments in the conveyance substructure and built environment, to the remarketing and development of the metropolis ‘s historical and cultural assets, bit by bit this pro-active attack has begun to re-establish a more consistent metropolis image.

For the intents of the undermentioned research proposal, I will nevertheless concentrate merely on the most recent development – the gap of a major new ‘landmark ‘ art gallery, on the fringe of the Lace Market. Conceived in the late 1990 ‘s, the clip spent in the planning of the Nottingham Contemporary gallery has been considerable, yet to day of the month small has been published on the topic. Implemented to consolidate the existing, but less outstanding art based events around the metropolis, it was hoped that the gallery would heighten Nottingham ‘s individuality, in the heads of visitants, as a cultural finish.

Using the Nottingham Contemporary as a instance survey, the purpose of this research is to understand how establishments such as art galleries, within the context of wider metropolis enterprises, are intentionally introduced as a tool for culture-led regeneration.

The impression of individuality within architectural theory is non recent, yet it is far from being an in agreement term. Writers on the capable present diverse strands of idea, dependant on their peculiar field of research.

Arguably one of the most influential figures in this argument has been Kevin Lynch, an American urban contriver who in the late 1950 ‘s brought about a new moving ridge of involvement in understanding how metropoliss are perceived by their dwellers. He explains,

‘identity is the extent to which a individual can acknowledge or remember a topographic point as being distinguishable from other topographic points – as holding a vivid, or alone, or at least a peculiar, character of its ain. ‘ ( Lynch, 1982, p.131 )

In publications crossing 35 old ages, Lynch conducted research into those ocular factors we most vibrate with, trusting to increase consciousness and excite an betterment in future urban design.

Many writers have since expanded on these cardinal probes and, despite differences, the general consensus indicates that a successful ‘sense of topographic point ‘ requires a series of properties, that appeal to a diverse scope of people. As Dolores Hayden more late concluded,

‘it is the narrative of how topographic points are planned, designed, built, inhabited, appropriated, celebrated, despoiled, and discarded. Cultural individuality, societal history, and urban design are here intertwined. ‘ ( Hayden, 1996, p.15 )

The layering of old ages of human activity and habitation, builds richer scenes with which to place. This may change from non merely ocular stimulations, but incorporate the full scope of senses to arouse in a individual, a strong sense of imagination or emotion which creates a strong fond regard tied to that topographic point.

‘It is topographic point ‘s assault on all ways of knowing ( sight, sound, odor, touch and gustatory sensation ) that makes it powerful as a beginning of memory, as a weave where one strand ties in another ‘ ( ibid. , p.18 )

Within a metropolis context these properties may consist of landmarks, multi-cultural influences, the historical context, societal, economic and political influences ; whilst in the design of remarkable edifices, common denominators to prosecute the spectator include the aesthetic, scale and materiality of the reinforced signifier. Each person will detect or see a state of affairs otherwise, dependant on their ain background cognition. If there is a common land to tie in with, there is possible to organize a strong corporate memory within the dwellers.

Over the past 30 old ages, nevertheless, there has been an unprecedented addition in the rate of urbanization and development in UK metropoliss. A more globalised attack to the built environment has ensued and built-in qualities, such as historical and cultural continuity within communities, are in danger of being eroded.

‘The impression of urbanism as a manner of life, independent of the physical denseness of the environment and therefore non dependent on venue, is going a concrete world. ‘ ( Zardini, 2005 )

Without a strong positive metropolis image, the option may offer bleaker, and more negative intensions, perchance linked to societal decomposition, fright and offense. The demand for individuality in the twenty-first century has hence become much greater. More modern-day Hagiographas reflect this, ( Pallasmaa, 2005 ; Zardini, 2005 ; Holl, 2007 ) underscoring the demand to re-establish individuality within our metropoliss.

Factors lending to the loss of individuality are multiple and include an increased barrage of mass-produced ocular stimulation, such as advertizements ( Pallasmaa, 2005 ) ; the trust of engineering and stuffs in modern edifices that do non show their age or history ( Holl, 2007 ) , through to the ‘hygienic sterilisation ‘ of public streets ( Zardini, 2005 ) . Ultimately this leads to a homogenized environment, often repeated throughout the state without consideration to the venue, geographics and civilization.

Despite dissensions in the literature, what is important is that the topic of individuality is going progressively topical. By being strongly rooted into its vicinity ‘architecture has the capacity to be animating, prosecuting and life-enhancing. ‘ ( Pallasmaa, 2005 ) Lynch foremost highlighted the possible value of including lending factors of individuality within architectural design, and over the old ages it has encouraged a gradual but practical impact on metropolis planning policies.

It is singular that despite this increased tendency of idea, rarely are such features to the full realized in a concluding built signifier. Taking the instance of Nottingham, despite the best attempts of the City Council and preservation groups, urban development in the late twentieth century has still failed to turn to these cardinal issues. Ferris, composing in 2006 believes one of the grounds for this failure is that ‘the economic and political forces that are determining the hereafter aˆ¦ are non specific to Nottingham. ‘ Without strong local cognition, partnership and investing, some recent developments might be accused of being bland, misplaced or incohesive.

After the Lace Market ‘s appellation as a preservation country in 1969, the City Council had originally hoped to keep the traditional function of the country by continued investing in the fabric industry. They were, nevertheless, unable to forestall the inflow of alternate commercial sectors and large-scale development and the Lace Market became at hazard from commercial gentrification.

‘In such quarters the necessity of accommodating the assorted exigencies of preservation and revival, of equilibrating economic development while esteeming environmental quality is peculiarly ambitious. ‘ ( Tiesdell, et. al.,1996 )

Interestingly, the original functional variegation from industrial to cultural one-fourth occurred,

‘not through a procedure of planning and policy-making, but as something that has grown ‘organically ‘ over the yearsaˆ¦ a procedure that was informal, unstructured and do-it-yourself. ‘ ( Bell, et. al. , 2004, p.149 )

Examples of such cultural development in the country include the Broadway Theatre, and the formation in the 1980 ‘s of the humanistic disciplines based Midland Group. The continued sustainability of such an organic transmutation has nevertheless been dependent on the intercession and continued support of the City Council. The Council, mindful of the failures of earlier policies, saw the demand to diversify. Constructing on the success of these smaller independent units such as the theater, they invested in set uping the country as a cultural hub within the metropolis. As Bell continues to explicate,

‘some infrastructural support for this delicate concealed ecology of originative people could be a critical phase in consolidating and developing the Lace Market as a cultural one-fourth. ‘ ( ibid, p.161 )

It was within this multi-faceted context that the Nottingham Contemporary gallery was conceived.

Such economic investing in public art, paralleled the actions of other provincial metropoliss throughout the UK, such as Walsall and Gateshead where new landmark galleries are synonymous with the image of that single metropolis. Widely known as the ‘Guggenheim Effect ‘ , such culture-led regeneration has become a well-thought-of agency of pulling investing and touristry to a metropolis. The regenerative success stimulated by the Guggenheim Museum in the one time industrial town of Bilbao, being the premier illustration.

The Nottingham Contemporary, as the largest individual gallery in the East Midlands and one of the largest modern-day art infinites in the UK, was opened to the populace on Nov 14th 2009 amid important media attending. Situated on one of the oldest locations in the metropolis, and following legion failed efforts to renew the site, the Nottingham Contemporary has non sprung up by opportunity.

In 2004, after half a decennary of be aftering behind closed doors, an international competition was held to name a suited designer. At this occasion it was clear, Nottingham required an iconic place for modern-day art.

A choice panel was formed including non merely metropolis contrivers, but persons stand foring the local humanistic disciplines community, concern investors and module members with an involvement in exhibition design from two of the local universities. Finally after a strict choice procedure, architects Caruso St John were appointed and be aftering permission was granted in 2005.

To accomplish a executable research subject, I have narrowed my attack to this huge topic to specifically the planned actions of the City Council, Developers, Architect and Client. The methodological analysis described below seeks to reply specifically:

How does the Nottingham Contemporary tantrum into the bing regeneration schemes of the Lace Market?

What be aftering policies were influential throughout the development of the gallery to retain or heighten vicinity?

What were the cardinal client demands set out in the design brief to the designers?

In falling graduated table, each of the three inquiries explores the physical and theoretical context of the gallery. Get downing with the wider historical scene of the Lace Market, its economic influences, bing developments, preservation policies and restrictions, the research will so come on to the smaller graduated table attributes refering to the chosen site. Finally as a new physique within an historical environment, the research will reason in researching the aspirations and demands of the gallery edifice itself, from the positions of the client, the artistic community and the metropolis occupants.

I believe this survey is utile at a clip when so much accent is being placed on pull offing how Nottingham is perceived. The timely gap of the gallery still means it is surrounded by media ballyhoo as it settles into its function, but involvement tends to be focused on the possible hereafter of the gallery, instead than from where it stemmed. By offering a elaborate history of the determination devising procedure and influential planning schemes that influenced the development of this edifice, it is possible that similar approaches/policies, if regarded as successful, could be transferred to other undertakings and used as theoretical accounts for the hereafter.

Several methods are accommodated within this initial paper and subsequent research proposal. My initial geographic expeditions took me in the way of the historical development of the Lace Market and its growing, decay and subsequent renovation. Through both text edition and internet resources, I have developed a background cognition of the events that have shaped the Lace Market context. From its appellation by English Heritage as a preservation country in 1969, through to the formation of the Nottingham Civic Society and the public/private sector partnership of the Lace Market Development Company, an increasing sum of control has crept into the way of the country. This cognition has been priceless in explicating this research proposal.

In respects to the newer planning schemes, specifically those with a direct relationship to the gallery, hunts of authorities legislative paperss have shed really small visible radiation on the state of affairs. It appears excessively recent a point in clip, for there to be extended publications within the public sphere. Alternatively, to obtain this information, I will necessitate to place and talk with those parties that have been straight involved in the development procedure, those tasked with explicating local planning policies and the existent briefing papers for the gallery. To infer a all-around and, hopefully, indifferent history this includes reaching those mentioned antecedently, members of the local and regional Councils, single members of the competition choice panel, the Architects, Developers and Client.

Whilst many edifices have contributed to the cultural regeneration of Nottingham in the yesteryear, concentrating in on merely one instance survey seems appropriate for a small-scale research undertaking. Valuable clip can be spent on analysing inside informations instead than on wide generalizations. By concentrating specifically on the Nottingham Contemporary, its geographical propinquity is ideal should I wish to transport out field research and significantly, I hope that, one time identified by name, cardinal figures will besides be accessible. Backed up by the original theoretical model, the cardinal results from this survey can so be abstracted and used for comparing in similar hereafter scenarios in Nottingham and other metropoliss, or related back to the larger planetary issue of individuality.

In this case statistical information is, ab initio, of small usage due to its more remote and general nature. Alternatively, in a qualitative attack, I plan to set about elaborate interviews, which will be more suitable to portraying the position of the person and the administration they represent. Again, due to the comparative easiness with which I could carry on face-to-face interviews, this is preferred to those conducted over the phone or by electronic mail. Whilst perchance more clip consuming, I feel I would be able to better command the way and focal point of the interview if conducted in individual.

Prior to inventing the interview inquiries, I attended a public argument held by the Nottingham Contemporary, affecting the designer Adam Caruso, a module member of the local university Jonathan Hale, and an architectural historian Michalea Giebelhausen. This talk was enormously insightful in showing the designer ‘s desire to research the gallery ‘s image within the metropolis from an early phase. The remarks besides reaffirmed that a strong dialogue/consultation had been undertaken with all interested parties throughout the existent design procedure.

Jonathan Hale, as a member of the original choice commission supervising the international competition, was involved from a really early phase in the development procedure. I intend to carry on an initial pilot interview with this panel member, as his extended background cognition could turn out priceless and he could besides place further possible key interviewees. This initial interview would non merely give me good penetration into the determination devising procedure but besides test the suitableness of my devised inquiries for future topics.

In nearing the interviewees in both the pilot and chief interviews, I intend to give a brief description of the subject to be discussed in progress, explain the format I intend the interview to take and bespeak an appropriate sum of their clip.

Whilst it is alluring to interview several people at the same time, by garnering in one topographic point, such a scenario could be hard to command and some participants may offer more of an sentiment than others. Alternatively, I plan to interview each individual separately with a figure of predefined inquiries derived from my original three nucleus inquiries steering the research. Auxiliary inquiries would besides be used to ease farther treatment should the original inquiry be ill-defined to the interviewee or non specifically relevant to them, dependant on their function in the procedure. This structured attack will forestall the interview from rolling off from the accent of the research inquiry, yet supply more flexibleness than a questionnaire.

For the intents of the initial pilot interview I intend to enter the interview through traditional note taking instead than utilizing audio recording devices. Transcribing the treatment afterwards would be unneeded for this initial phase, but is something I would present in the chief interviews, despite the hazard it may do the interview seem more formal to the participant.

The cardinal focal point of the interview series is to obtain sentiments on what were the strategic drive forces behind the development ; what planning and policy certification has been produced before, during and after and by whom ; the context in which the certification was produced ; the brief lineation and to what extent was it followed or adapted, and whether any cardinal findings/decisions can be applied to future developments in the Lace Market or more farther afield.

Any documents/legislation mentioned in interview that I was n’t antecedently cognizant of, can so be sourced by name and analysed in a farther phase.

The pilot interview ( the full layout of which can be seen in the appendix ) was positive in result as I gained a big sum of background information. As the interviewee was willing to speak really loosely about the topic, frequently the conversation would skin off on a tangent. As a consequence the interview lasted much longer than anticipated and non all inquiries were answered explicitly. In future I need to maintain on path, guaranting I focus on acquiring replies relevant merely specific to the line of enquiry, which will besides cut down the length of the interview. The interview besides helped to farther polish the subject in my head and pointed me towards the Directors of the bing Bonnington and Angel Row art galleries in Nottingham, a antecedently overlooked beginning group who actively undertook the function of client in the Nottingham Contemporary undertaking.

Once all interviews have been conducted, transcribed and background information obtained, I feel the best manner to collate the information will be in a simplistic tabular format.

By pulling up single tabular arraies for the cardinal schemes, the planning policies and the

client demands, cardinal remarks from all beginnings will be grouped consequently.

This associating together of the development model, the procedures, policies and brief, will supply a clear factual image of the patterned advance from start to complete. It will enable me to infer the cardinal formal and informal factors that influenced the gallery development and to see both the strengths and failings of such a scheme.

This empathic attack to guaranting that all parts of the strategy tantrum together, is a method that logically should and does, from initial findings, appear to work. By holding far more local input and a diverse scope of expertness in the development audiences, and in reacting to the regenerative demands of the country as a whole, the design of the edifice has strong foundations.

Whilst it is excessively shortly after the gap of the Nottingham Contemporary to notice on whether it can wholly carry through the overall aims, the interview series will let me to reason whether the people involved throughout, feel, on initial contemplation, the terminal consequence has achieved what was ab initio strived for ; whether there are facets that possibly did or did n’t work, and if the gallery has been a success in their head.

If, in clip, the gallery does so go an paramount success with both the local population and in pulling the coveted degrees of touristry, it would supply grounds that with considered development schemes from the beginning, a new physique can so be orchestrated to hold a strong resonance with its venue. The model deduced in this research would hold increased value and, as such, the techniques found to be employed in this case, may be applicable elsewhere.

Transporting these clear aims through to farther developments within the Lace Market and developing coherence, as a metropolis, Nottingham has the possible to fling its anon. categorization and advance a positive individuality.

Appendix I

Question construction tested in pilot interview conducted with Jonathan Hale, 16/12/09.




How would you depict your engagement in the development of the Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery?

At what phase did you go foremost involved? What background experience do you hold that placed you in this circumstance? How has your engagement continued?


Could you describe the historical background, which led to the formation of the choice commission tasked with naming an designer?

Did this commission root from antecedently formed groups?

Who else did the panel comprise of?


At the clip of the competition, what were the chief aspirations of the panel for the edifice in its wider context of the Lace Market and Nottingham?

Was it of import to heighten Nottingham ‘s repute as cultural finish?


How was the gallery to sit within the on-going renovation of the Lace Market one-fourth?

How important a function was the gallery to play in the Lace Market ‘s cultural position? What other edifices ‘ have been or still are polar?


Were any of the development schemes / be aftering policies that have assisted in steering the lacing market development, applicable in act uponing the gallery design?

What initiatives or policy paperss should I be researching in farther item? Was the gallery used as a stepping-stone for future development?


Would you hold that by keeping an international competition to name an designer, it appears that from the get downing an iconic edifice was desired in the metropolis?

Do you experience the recent success of culture-led regeneration in metropoliss such as Walsall and Gateshead, has influenced Nottingham ‘s gallery?


What were the chief aims of the initial design brief?

How was the brief devised? Did this brief evolve over clip? Which of the interested parties had an input?


From the initial audience through to the recent gap, the planning, design and building procedure has spanned ten old ages. How have the aspirations for the gallery evolved over clip?

Make these still suit the quickly altering environment of the Lace Market? Do you experience any of import facets have been overlooked in the procedure?


In your sentiment which are the most successful properties that have been to the full realized in reinforced signifier?

How can these be used as a bench- grade? Being so closely involved have you found that there are any dissatisfactory facets? Can any specific local influences be identified in the concluding built signifier?


Do you experience now that the Contemporary is complete that it has a resonance with its context and the local people of Nottingham?

Does it consolidate the Lace Market in people ‘s heads as the cultural one-fourth?

Related bibliography

Bell, J. and Jayne, M. ( 2004 ) , City of Living quarterss: Urban small towns in the Contemporary City, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Aldershot

Blaxter, L. , Hughes, C. and Tight, M. ( 2006 ) , How to research ( 3rd Edition ) , Open University Press

Hayden, D. ( 1996 ) The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History ( 2nd Edition ) , MIT Press, Cambridge, MA

Holl, S. ( 2007 ) , Questions of Perception: Phenomenology of Architecture ( 2nd Edition ) , William K Stout Publishers

Lynch, K. ( 1960 ) , The Image of the City, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA

Lynch, K. ( 1972 ) , What Time is This Topographic point, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA

Lynch, K. ( 1982 ) , A Theory of Good City Form, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA

Oldfield, G. ( 2001 ) , The Lace Market, Nottingham ( 2nd Edition ) , Nottingham Civic Society

Pallasmaa, J. ( 2005 ) The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses ( 2nd Edition ) , John Wiley & A ; Sons

Tiesdell, S. , Taner, O. and Heath, T. ( 1996 ) , Regenerating Historic Urban Quarters, Architectural Press, Oxford

Zardini, M. ( 2005 ) Sense of the City: An Alternate Approach to Urbanism, Lars Muller Publishers, Toronto

Christiansen, R. ( 2009 ) , Nottingham Contemporary: devising moving ridges and taking hazards, The Telegraph, 22nd November

English Heritage, ( 2000 ) The Power of Place, The Future of the Historic Environment, Publication for Central Government, Nottingham

Experience Nottinghamshire, Perceptions of Nottingham: Nottingham ‘s individuality, the unknown metropolis? hypertext transfer protocol: // ( Accessed 07.12.2009, Created Autumn 2006 )

Ferris, J. Conservation and Regeneration in the Nottingham Lace Market, ( Accessed 22.11.2009, Created Autumn 2006 )

Caruso, A. , Hale, J. and Giebelhausen, M. , Architecture, Art and the Changing City, Public argument held 09/12/09, Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery, Nottingham


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