One thing I love about school breaks is that I can let loose on the internet. I can spend time just browsing, and I’m so glad I do. I found some very interesting new things to learn about and love.
There is a British channel on Youtube called Gardens & Homes. I thought it was the official channel. It wasn’t. But the show is called Grand Designs and it can be viewed here on the BBC’s offical channel.
I watched several of the full length videos and enjoyed them all. They feature home makeovers and renovations, but of the uniquely British kind. Renovating an 18th century Shropshire farmer’s cottage, or renovating an East London 1900s dairy, or an ancient Welsh chapel into a living space. The British Isles are dotted with crumbling farmer’s crofts, castles, estates and other historical buildings we just hate to let dissolve into the ground. People do buy them and the channel follows their journey into either sanity or insanity in attempting to make habitable, compliant living spaces out of them. The writing is good and the photography is beautiful too. Check them out. I especially loved the east London Dairy renovation I posted below.
The couple featured in this episode spent an inordinate amount of money for a small space are interior and graphic designers who are mightily attracted to the aesthetic concepts of rough spaces, industrial grunge, and the like. I love industrial also, and I enjoyed watching the host’s amusement as he drew out of the couple their plans for a tasteful reno that included keeping or reusing the peeling paint and rusty metal joists. In the end, the space turned out spectacular as the show astutely depicted their aesthetic sojourn from aesthetic hopefulness butting up against code enforcement reality and achieved a delicate balance of honoring the space’s history, usability, and beauty.
For inspiration at one point in the show, the wife went to a place called Model Market. I was immediately in love with this new approach to using abandoned cityscapes. The developer uses spaces that have been bought and are awaiting development into offices or apartments, and instead creates a family friendly, open air pop up food market featuring lights, music, and a plethora of different restaurants.
Wow, talk about creative.
|Traveler photo submitted by KateL1710 (Jan 2016)
Here is an article about it
Street Feast London – Model Market
Last summer Street Feast London took a disused 1950s indoor and outdoor market in Lewisham and transformed it into a weekend street eating destination, breathing new life into the local community.
The other photos at the link above are equally enchanting, beautiful, and cool!
Whatever you want to call it, micro-diners, street food, or pop up restaurants, the business model is one I love. The concept showcases chefs, their dishes, and their restaurants. The venue brings in customers to unloved city areas. It’s a safe and clean business, family friendly (as long as the ratio of bars vs. diners stays appropriate). It helps turn negative reviews of a disused area of the city into one with possibilities and hope. It gets chefs out of the basement or the rear of the restaurant, slaving away in anonymity, to interact with customers and into the fresh air and not last, showcases their talents. It provides a free spot for families or anyone to congregate to on a Friday or Saturday evening in the warm season.
Recently London celebrity chefs Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver teamed up with other chefs to invest in the model, which is the brainchild of Street Feast owners-developers Jonathan Downey and Henry Dimbleby of Street Feast. The new company is called London Union.
What Street Feast did next: Henry Dimbleby and Jonathan Downey on crowdfunding, London Union and breaking Berlin
The aim of London Union is to find areas across the capital that are economically inactive – often waiting for planning permission or for work to start on a new development – and build pop-up markets that create local jobs and provide opportunities for new, up-and-coming street food traders to establish themselves without requiring large amounts of capital.
I’ve always been a fan of creative ideas for using space in a city. The 1994 Greg Brown song Boomtown and Robert Putnam’s 2000 book Bowling Alone have stayed with me all this time.
On another topic, still on Youtube though, I like to watch videos of tours of tiny houses. I have been ahead of the curve with this tiny house movement. I owned a new 2500 sf three bedroom raised ranch in the excessive and consumerism 1980s. The culture taught me to acquire, live high, and show it off. That approach to life turned out to be expensive and enslaving. I dumped the house, met and married a man who was about to embark on his own tiny house approach, and we were off. We moved into a 900 sf homne, then a 37 foot sailboat, then a pop up WV camper van. I did draw the line at the camper van, lol, that was as small as I wanted to go. To this day I live in a 425 sf apartment and I love it.
But the tiny houses all seem to me to lack one thing: comfort. I’ve been watching a lot of tiny house tours on Youtube, and they just do not appeal to me. If you’re a starry eyed 20 year old, maybe you don’t mind sitting on a box. But I don’t want to do that. Tiny houses just don’t have couches. (OK, I know some do, but then again, I don’t want to haul my tired carcass up a ladder to go to bed, either).
I love the idea of cities allowing zoning for this kind of alternate living, it makes sense and it’s eco-friendly as well as budget friendly. I read that one northwestern city has 0% unemployment but homelessness is skyrocketing. Why? People work there but can’t afford the housing prices.
Anyway, in my week-off Youtube browsing bonanza I found this video of a tiny home the man built in a silo. It’s a little over 300 sf and it’s contemporary, stylish, functional, and adheres to the tiny home notion. It should be noted that the couple who own and live in it abide in Phoenix and they do make use of the outdoors for much of their living space. The shower is outside as is a lounge area. But I did spot a daybed in the circular home and the bedroom is aloft but accessed by a circular staircase, not a ladder.
Which reminds me, my first apartment in University was a small place that had a galley kitchen, tiny living room, and a loft bedroom accessed by a circular staircase. I guess I’ve always liked living tiny.
Here is an article about the silo tiny home, and a short video.
Tomorrow I plan to head into the city of Athens to Small Business Saturday at Avid Bookshop for their Book Swap. From 2-3 pm, if you bring a bag of books and have $3, (which puts you into a raffle for a prize) you can browse others’ books and they can browse yours. You can take back home any books that aren’t chosen or leave them for a donation to a charity they fund. Win-win!
So that has been my week of aesthetic pursuits- renovations of alternate living spaces, alternate and creative land use, and design!