The blog title is somewhat misleading and in no way am I criticising Open City, for reasons that will become apparent below.

Today I went on an Open City Architecture Tour, booked on a whim yesterday. The tour location was Shoreditch which interested me because it also has a world of street art as well as undergoing a transformation in terms of development and continued gentrification (yes linking this the project brief peeps).

This tour was run by Grant Smith who is very knowledgeable about the history of the area in terms of architecture past, present and future (for example, I saw the new Amazon London HQ that is being built), as well giving good technical tips and suggested views for taking pictures, (Grant also runs other architectural tours organised by Open City). The weather, however, was as dull as dishwater, which meant that there were no nice cloud formations and/or blue skies for interesting building shots when pointing your camera upward….. just continual grey. So while I took about 100 shots over the 2.5 hour walk, on reviewing the pictures only a few made the cut for editing. As Grant suggested, it would be good to go back on a sunny day and follow the route (insofar as I can remember it) and retake a number of pictures – so that is the plan for the future. For reference I used my 20mm lens… which worked better for some compositions… less well for others.

The compensation was the plethora of street art for which the area is famous for and you do not have to look too hard to find examples, so I ended taking a good number of pictures of street art. On review, many of those made it past review and then onto to editing, because in most cases, there was no need to include the sky and even then, the art compensated for the grey blanket.

My highlight of the day was being introduced to the Boundary Estate as part of this tour – this oasis in the hustle and bustle of Shoreditch is a refreshing look at how we once thought of how to build social housing to create and maintain a community…. sadly this concept I believe is missing from what little contemporary social housing is constructed. I definitely want to return there as part of my sunny day photoshoot.

Now in homage to Bissy and his obsession with kerbs and detritus a few transformation pics…. how rubbish can transform a space. And yes my trainer made an appearance too!

One of the reasons that I would like to retrace my steps on this tour is not just the hope for better weather, but because it does link into my interpretation of the project brief. So although I have been focusing on transformation through abandonment and decay, of course, I can also incorporate a more literal theme of transformation by way of change. This is summed up best by the tour marketing blurb:

“This photography tour looks at how to photograph one of London’s fastest changing urban landscapes. You will record a snapshot documenting a moment in time in this vibrant area ‘under construction’ as new developments go up on brownfield sites alongside industrial Victorian warehouses and workshops, modern houses and a proliferation of boutique hotels.” 1.

Assignment criteria: 1, 2, 4 & 5