The High Street

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The High Street collect, catalogue, curate Text HT40003 - Architectural Humanities 4 Mark White - 120010261






















Appendix I


Appendix II


Appendix III


Collect verb 1. Bring or gather together (a number of things). "he went round the office collecting old coffee cups" 2. Call for and take away; fetch. "the children were collected from school" Catalogue noun 1. A complete list of items, typically one in alphabetical or other systematic order, in particular: a list of all the books or resources in a library. verb 1. Make a systematic list of (items of the same type). "it will be some time before the collection is fully catalogued" Curate verb 1. select, organise, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition). "both exhibitions are curated by the Centre's director" 2. select, organise, and present (online content, merchandise, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge.

Preface the thinking machine


he object defines the High Street in terms of physical boundaries - in relation to its beginning, end, enclosure and coast. The exploration allows an uninterrupted insight into the relationship of the High Street with itself and its connection to the East Coast of Scotland. The process of collating High Streets and reproducing an abstraction of these by hand allows a deeper insight into the development of these streets, and therefore the settlements as a whole. It also enables an insight into the High Street at a higher level, in terms of the space, the people, and its purpose. This, in turn, raises another question: Is it the nonphysical entities define that the High Street, or the physical circumstance and location? Methodology Rules: 1. The settlement must be connected to the East Coast of Scotland, including those situated on firths, in some way (harbour, beach, waterfront, pier, etc.) 2. It must have a street named ‘High Street’ 3. All High Streets to be drawn at a scale of 1:10000 @ A4 Process:


1. Examine maps of Scotland to provide a list of settlements on the East Coast of Scotland 2. Investigate City/Town/Village maps of the selected settlements to highlight which of these have a High Street 3. Use these maps to provide scaled drawings of each High Street. This is defined, for the purposes of these scaled drawings, as the space enclosed by the area of the street named High Street. Although there are instances where the street itself extends further it is no longer given the name of High Street and therefore excluded from the scaled drawing 4. Organise these in a series of arrangements to inform the study of the High Street: • Location (south - north) • Scale (small - large) • Population (low - high) • Proximity to coastline (near - distant) Presentation and Layout Produced as a series of books; consideration is given as to how they are contained as one and how the layout, fonts and paper affect the piece. Akin to travel journals or volume of atlas contained in a sleeve, each book uses exposed spine binding and a place-holder to complete the arrangement. 5

Introduction collect, catalogue, curate


he essay will explore the definition of the High Street, and its role and place within our society. There are two levels of enquiry: the street as a general concept (how it functions within a settlement and therefore society) and the ‘High Street’ which is the principal street of a settlement. It will question the difference between the road and the street. While a road, and its associated functions, typically imply movement to or from a destination; a street, and its associated functions, typically imply an arrival: it is a place for interaction, social meetings and trade. It is a place for dwelling in. Throughout the essay within three main discussions on space, typology and agreement we will explore the relationship the High Street has with society and its purpose within our culture. It will raise the question: does it still serve the same purpose as it once did or has it evolved overtime as we have? Collect - High Streets on the East Coast of Scotland Catalogue - Scaled drawings of the Edge condition of the High Street and its relationship to the East Coast of Scotland Curate - A series of different arrangements of the High Streets


Fig. 1 - ‘Prison Wall Abstract (An Escaped Man)’

Fig. 2 - Selected image (top left of overall collection)

Space beginning, end, enclosure


ornelia Parker’s ‘Prison Wall Abstract (An Escaped Man)’ is a series of twelve images that were captured on her iPhone in 2012. They show a set of random black and white marks made by builders on Pentonville Prison wall in an attempt to repair the cracks in one of the prison walls [Fig. 1 & 2]. Pilger (2013) comments Parker brings to light artefacts the city has produced by accident. When you view the twelve images without preconception the observer struggles to orientate themselves with the images. Very little is given away in terms of scale or subject matter; there is however an emotive theme of solid and void, and a juxtaposition of patterns and space. Visually it is very simple, possibly described as banal, but extremely considered; as with all of Parkers work great consideration has been given to the presentation of the collection and in the naming of the piece. The work could be seen as similar to Eduardo Chillida’s prints, particularly the ones he did to illustrate Martin Heidegger, who produced the essay ‘The Art and the Space’ in 1969 based on Chillida’s work. These explore ideas about solid and void and look remarkably similar to Parker’s images, although they are of course compositions rather than images. Often Parker’s works have a seemingly coincidental accompanying story associated with them, this is true of the Prison Wall Abstract (An Escaped Man). Hours after taking the photos at the prison a convicted murderer escaped over 9

Fig. 3 - Abstraction of extract from the object

the same wall that she had photographed. Important in Parker’s method is perception. The viewer can look at the images as art, however you most-likely wouldn’t notice them as you passed the wall on the street of which the images were captured. Yet, dislocate them into a gallery and frame them and you can see them as art objects. You then see them differently again once you know what they are and how they came to be there. As an exploration into the cracks, seemingly dull spaces; the images record the “layman’s version of Parkers’ method; the filling of cracks for safety management is suddenly transformed and presented to the viewer as abstract expressionism.” (Withstandley, 2013). The exhibit explores the spaces between; a theme which Parker is very familiar with: works such as ‘Pavement Cracks (City of London)’ and ‘Jerusalem’ which also highlight aspects of the city street that typically go unnoticed in everyday life. In many aspects the object is relatable to the ‘Prison Wall Abstract (An Escaped Man)’. When viewed without any contextual information the focus is fully about solid and void and the space between; to make the image truly about solid and void the object could be abstracted even further [Fig. 3]. It is only with the addition of the scale, title and reference points that the viewer is given clues about how, and what to read from the image [Fig. 4]. It is then they are able consider the space in an urban context. The object defines 11


Population: 1166

Fig. 4 - Extract from the object

Coastal fishing village

the High Street as a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional space, just as Parkers has represented the three-dimensional wall as flattened two-dimensional black and white images of the space. Perec (2008), when discussing his views on space, explains “our gaze travels through space and gives us the illusion of relief and distance. That is how we construct space, with an up and a down, a left and a right, an in front and a behind, a near and a far”. Here Perec is stating that space must be considered in three dimensions. “The city is thus conceived as an enormous mass that has been carved away to create outdoor rooms” (Sergison, 2016). Considering the city as this three dimensional space we can begin to break the street down into a series of social spaces.


Fig. 5 - ‘NewcastleGateshead’

Fig. 6 - ‘NewcastleGateshead’ (zoomed-in)

Typology the road + the street


ayla Curtis’ ‘NewcastleGateshead’ is a collaged map compiled from regional namesakes taken from maps from all around the world [Fig. 5 & 6]. Place names from a number of countries including Australia, Canada, Jamaica and Ireland are juxtaposed to create an alternative map of North-East England. This is not the first time Curtis has explored our preconceptions of place, with other works such as ‘The Thames’, ‘United Kingdom of Japan’ and ‘Kielder Water & Islands’ highlighting similar themes previously explored by Curtis. From afar these maps all appear to be as expected, however it is only when careful attention is paid that the map reveals itself as art. Curtis has used collages from various maps to reproduce a representation of a place. Curtis notes “by dissecting, dismembering and collaging maps to create new, hybrid maps, I aim to explore the effects of disturbing this trusted system of mapping” (Manchester, 2003). It could be seen as Curtis taking places from all over the world and brings them back to their original context. When people migrated to places, such as Australia, they took place names with them and re-named new places as home this results in something familiar, but not. This resulted in what could be described as a diaspora of place names. Other works from Curtis such as ‘Edinburgh Index Drawing’ [Fig. 7 & 8] and Index’ are abstractions of what we recognise as a map by obscuring familiar information we think should be there 15

Fig. 7 - ‘Edinburgh Index Drawing’

Fig. 8 - ‘Edinburgh Index Drawing’ (zoomed-in)

and therefore this draws attention to what is left: the street names. This distorting of place and urban fabric forces us to consider type and typology. It questions the typology of our urban surroundings and makes us re-evaluate what defines a city; and inherently questions the road and the street. “The birth of a ‘type’ is...dependant on the existence of a series of [objects] having between them an obvious formal and functional analogy” (Argan, 1963); that is to say, when a type is determined, it is already in existence, as Argan (1963) explains, “as an answer to a complex of ideological, religious, or practical demands which arise in a given historical condition”. Within each type there “an infinite number of classes and subclasses of ‘types’”. Moneo (1973) when discussing type and when questioning the definition of type, believes type can simply be described as a tool to group a series of objects which could be categorised by the same formal structure. Perec (2008) notes that “the parallel alignment of two series of buildings defines what is known as a street”. This would be the definition of the type known as ‘the street’ however this does not define the differences between the road and the street. He goes on to observe “most streets are equipped with specific amenities corresponding to various services” (Perec, 2008) that are associated with the street. These often mundane items, such as street lights, telephone and post boxes, bus stops, and bins 17

Road noun 1. a wide way leading from one place to another, especially one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles can use. "a country road" Street noun 1. A public road in a city, town, or village, typically with houses, shops and buildings on one or both sides. “the narrow, winding streets of Edinburgh” 2. the roads or public areas of a city or town. “every week, fans stop me in the street”

are the inanimate objects that populate the street around us. These objects begin to form the infinite number of subclasses expressed by Argan when discussing typology. Perhaps the road could simply be seen as the surface, whereas the street is about the spaces between. “Traditionally some large-scale unchanging thing‌was the thing that made the whole community structure comprehensible and assured the identity of the parts within the whole. Today our most obvious failure is the lack of comprehensibility and identity.â€? Smithson, 1974 Does the street, in particular the High Street, have the identity in the present? And does it still function as it did historically? Traditionally the High Street was the organisational device discussed by Smithson; it was the hub of trade and commerce, and the heart of the community. However, do roads now dictate settlements? Are towns such as Arbroath defined by the road carving through the settlement rather than the historic High Street linking the harbour to the Abbey? Many Scottish settlements have had the same fate, with Community Severance destroying links within the settlement. This happens when transport links actually limit peoples mobility, rather than facilitating it. Railways, motorways, and roads with high traffic levels or speeds, create physical and psychological barriers separating communities 19

and neighbourhoods, by inhibiting walking and cycling routes, possibly leading to negative effects on individual health and social wellbeing. These social networks, of friends and family but also of acquaintances and neighbours; Appleyard & Lintell (1972) in San Francisco showed that the number of friends and acquaintances local residents had was lower the higher the amount of traffic on their street. Cities such as Glasgow have had thoroughfares (roads) carved through the heart of the settlement to create vehicular links to destinations further afield. While little or no thought given to the street, places for people. While the discussion above defines the street, and High Street, in a very physical sense as described by Perec there is also a far more metaphorical and emotional dimension to the street; the street as a social space. Jukes (1990) suggests the street is an “arena where strangers encounter one another, come face to face with the size and heterogeneity of urban life�.


Fig. 9 - Sample of ‘Doors NYC’ collection

Agreement the high street


oy Colmer’s ‘Doors NYC’ collection [Fig. 7] captured over 3,000 doorways in Manhattan between November 1975 and September 1976. Although each image is straight forward, a door on a Manhattan street, his project can be seen as being semi-abstract. Berick (2015) notes ‘Colmer’s work teaches the viewer to look for sameness as well as variation. His efforts were as an artist first, but because his work meticulously captures Manhattan streetscapes, his pictures end up serving as a record of the city in the 1970s.’ These images capture New York doors in a moment of time. Often mundane and everyday, these doors mark the thresholds to many homes and businesses in New York. Some will still exist to this day and others have disappeared with the passage of time. The historical collection of photographs are a snapshot for the city scape, and the street, at one given period of time. They capture the street as a series of social spaces. The High Street, as Research Works (2016) highlights “it’s usually near where you live, so you are familiar with what shops and services are available…[and] something the internet cannot provide; other people, in the flesh, doing the same thing as you”. This, as Jane Jacobs demonstrated in her seminal work on urban life, is the foundations of the High Street experience. “It is the reason for the survival of high streets, and the reason why some of them thrive in an age we often characterise by its virtual attributes, as if we have all disappeared from physical existence and reappeared 23

as ghosts in a universal machine.”. It is this observation that can be related to Khan’s (1973) belief that “the street is a room of agreement”. It is these interactions, connections and moments that define the High Street past its physical boundaries and edge conditions. The High Street becomes a social space. Portas (2011) believes that our high streets have reached a crisis point. Unless urgent action is taken, much of Britain will lose, irretrievably, something that is fundamental to our society, and which has real social and economic worth to our communities. Jacobs (1961), a contemporary of Colmer, observes that there are “intricate, almost unconscious, networks of voluntary controls and standards among the people themselves, and enforces by the people themselves”. Is this the street, a room, by agreement? The human agreement to regulate and control the street, to use the street, interact with it, and with each other in it. It gives it a place in modern life when the original function of the High Street is possibly no longer relevant in terms of trade and commerce. Smithson (1974) explains “the street implies a physical contact community, the district an acquaintance community, and the city and intellectual community - a hierarchy of human associations”. The street is a place for human contact and interaction. However, since the rise of vehicular transport streets have lost their room-like attributes. Kahn (1973) believes city planning 25

can start with “the realization of this loss by directing the drive to reinstate the street where people live, learn, shop and work as the room out of commonality”. He explains a linear street is a series of rooms separated by the streets running perpendicular to them. The street, and High Street, have a sense of human agreement, defined as a “sense of rapport, of commonness, all bells ringing in unison-not needing to be understood by example but felt as an undeniable inner demand for a presence. It is an inspiration with the promise of the possible”. Mehta (2013) discusses three main social contexts that take place on the street. These could be seen as three levels of agreement that we all undertake when using and socialising on the street: Passive Sociability, where people have a desire to be around people but without direct contact; Fleeting Sociability, where people enjoy chance encounters and idle chit-chat; and Enduring Sociability, where people actively seek connection with a member of the community. Jacobs (1961), when discussing interactions on the street, notes “most of it is ostensibly trivial but the sum is not trivial at all” and goes onto explain that the combined interactions create a network of public respect and assurance; it is this we must strive for on our High Streets.


Conclusions or inconclusions


he previous discussions on space, typology and agreement explore the relationship of the High Street with society and its purpose within our culture; with the aim of defining the High Street. A consistent theme emerges of how the High Street is fundamental to human interaction and connections: it is a quintessential social public space. Conclusions drawn from the process of producing the object and the text has the potential to raise more questions than provide definitive answers, but undoubtedly the ‘thinking machine’ has informed the study of the street, road, and more predominately the High Street within a Scottish coastal context. The High Street is an outdoor room that allows people from all walks of life to go about their individual lives as one. Kahn (1973) believes “the street is a community room”. A room for the people. “What is the city but the people?” (Shakespeare, 2000). The city, and the High Street, is so central to social interaction, but people make streets.



Argan, G. (1963), On The Typology of Architecture, in Nesbitt, K. ed. (1996), Theorizing a new agenda for architecture, New York, Princeton Architectural Press Appleyard, D. & Lintell, M. (1972), The environmental quality of city streets: The residents’ viewpoint, American Institute of Planners Journal Issue 38, Washington, American Institute of Planners, Page 84-101. Berick, J. (2015), A Door to the Past: The Photographs of Roy Colmer [online], Available at: blog/a-door-to-the-past-the-photographs-of-roy-colmer/ [Accessed: 28 Nov. 2016] Curtis, L. (1999), Layla Curtis [online], Available at: http:// [Accessed: 10 Dec. 2016] Hart, M. & O’Reilly, S (2006), Layla Curtis, Venice, Locus + The New Art Gallery Walsall Jacobs, J. (1961), The death and life of great American cities, New York, Vintage Books. Jukes, P. (1990), A Shout in the Street, New York, Farrar Stratus Giroux Kahn, L. (1973), ‘Silence and Light’, A+U January ‘73, Tokyo, A+U Publishing Manchester E. (2003), Layla Curtis, ‘United Kingdom’ [online], Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 31

2016] Mehta, V. (2013). The street: A Quintessential Social Public Space, Oxon, Routledge Moneo, R. (1973), ‘On Typology’, Oppositions, Issue 13, Cambridge, MIT Press, Page 22-45 Perec, G. (2008), Species of Space and Other Pieces, London, Penguin Group Pilger, Z. (2013), Art review: Cornelia Parker, Frith Street Gallery, London [online], Available at: http://www.independent. [Accessed on: 28 Nov. 2016] Portas, M. (2011), The Portas Review [online], Available at: attachment_data/file/6292/2081646.pdf [Accessed: 06 Jan. 2017] Research Works (2016), The curious case of the death of the high street [online], Available at: [Accessed: 27 Oct. 2016] Sergison, J. (2016), Papers 3, Luzern, Quart Publishers Shakespeare, W. & Bliss, L. (2000), Coriolanus, New York, Cambridge University Press


Smithson, A. (1974). Team 10 Primer, Cambridge, MIT Withstandley, K. (2013), Cornelia Parker’s Simple Magic [online], Available at: https://exploringartinthecity. [Accessed 30 Oct. 2016].



Anciaes, P. (2013), What is community severance? [online], [Accessed: 06 Jan. 2017] Becher, B. & Becher, H. (2003), Typology, Cambridge, MIT Berger, J. (1973), Ways of seeing, London, British Broadcasting Corporation & Penguin Books Calvino, I. (1974), Invisible cities, New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Caruso, A (2001), The Emotional City – Quaderns, Issue 228, Barcelona, Quaderns, Page 8-13 Channel 4 (2013), Death of the high street: special report [online], Available: death-of-the-high-street-special-report [Accessed: 27 Oct. 2016] Frith Street Gallery (2013), Frith Street Gallery [online], Available at: cornelia_parker/pavement_cracks_city_of_london [Accessed: 10 Dec. 2016] Frith Street Gallery (2013), Frith Street Gallery [online], Available at: view/cornelia_parker/prison_wall_abstract_a_man_escaped [Accessed: 10 Dec. 2016] Herzog, J. & de Meuron, P. (2002), Natural History, Baden, Lars Muller


Lynch, K. (1973), The Image of the City, Cambridge, MIT Sergison, J. & Bates, S. (2007), Papers 2, Barcelona, Editorial Gustavo Gili Stevenson, A. ed. (2010), Oxford Dictionary of English: 3rd ed., Oxford, Oxford University Press. Stimson, B. (2004), The Photographic Comportment of Bernd and Hilla Becher [online], Available at: uk/research/publications/tate-papers/01/photographiccomportment-of-bernd-and-hilla-becher [Accessed 27 Oct. 2016] Whiteread, R. (2005), Walls, Doors, Floors and Stairs, New York, Distributed Art Publishers



Fig. 1 cornelia_parker/prison_wall_abstract_a_man_ escaped

Fig. 2 p01bcx34

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Extract from object

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Fig. 9 index?filters%5BrootCollection_rootCollectionUUI D_s%5D%5B%5D=Doors%2C+NYC.%7C%7C0f3 8cb80-c5ae-012f-b01b-58d385a7bc34&keywords=roy +colmer&layout


The High Street collect, catalogue, curate Object HT40003 - Architectural Humanities 4 Mark White - 120010261

Location (south - north) Scale (small - large) Population (low - high) Proximity to coastline (near - distant) Orientation to coastline (perpendicular - parallel)


Eyemouth Population: 3546 Traditional fishing town

Dunbar Population: 8486 Former royal burgh

North Berwick Population: 6605 Seaside town

Aberlady Population: 1166 Coastal fishing village

Cockenzie + Portseton Population: 5551 Commuter town

Preston Pans Population: 9140 11th century Village

Musselburgh Population: 22639 Largest settlement in East Lothian

Edinburgh Population: 459366 Capital city of Scotland

Queensferry Population: 9026 Former royal burgh of West Lothian

Inverkething Population: 5280 Port town

Aberdour Population: 1633 Harbour Village

Burntisland Population: 6269 12th Century town

Kinghorn Population: 2826 Seaside village + fishing port

Kirkcaldy Population: 49709 16th Century trading port

Buckhaven Population: 4458 Fishing village

Leven Population: 9004 15th century seaside town

Earlsferry Population: 331 17th century trading port

Elie Population: 346 Coastal harbour village

Pittenweem Population: 1486 Fishing village

Anstruther Population: 3446 Fishing town

Crail Population: 1639 7th century seaside village

Newport-on-Tay Population: 4243 Commuter town

Dundee Population: 147285 Scotland’s 4th largest city

Monifeith Population: 8366 Commuter town

Carnoustie Population: 11394 18th century town

Arbroath Population: 23902 Historic fishing town

Montrose Population: 11955 Medieval port town

Inverbervie Population: 2233 12th century town

Stonehaven Population: 11431 Iron Age fishing village

Aberdeen Population: 195021 Scotland’s 3rd most populous city

Peterhead Population: 18537 17th century panned settlement

Fraserburgh Population: 13100 Major port and busy commercial harbour

Sandhaven Population: 824 Small fishing village

Gardenstown Population: 667 Small coastal village

MacDuff Population: 4009 Harbour town

Banff Population: 4082 Coastal town

Portsoy Population: 1752 16th century port

Portknockie Population: 1269 17th century coastal village

Buckie Population 8273 19th century planned settlement

Portgordon Population: 844 18th century fishing village

Lossiemouth Population: 7705 18th century planned town

Nairn Population: 9773 Fishing port and market town

Ardersier Population: 1150 Small former fishing village

Inverness Population: 48201 6th most populus city in Scotland

Avoch Population: 1052 Harbour village

Fortrose Population: 1367 19th century planned settlement

Carmarty Population: 726 Traditional seaside port

Invergordon Population: 4075 Industrial harbour town

Tain Population: 3655 11th century town

Dornoch Population: 1208 13th century village

Brora Population: 1282 Small industrial village

Wick Population: 7155 Fishing town