Immagine

Plan for Leeds

John Cossins’ sketch. Quite hard call it just sketch. It’s the “New and exact plan of the town of Leeds”, 1726. It’s one of the oldest printed map in Britain, probably the first on Leeds, and according to Dr Kavin Grady we’re very lucky to have the original one because only one has ever existed.

I was in the Holy Trinity Church, some days ago, attending to a free lecture from Mr Grady (the director of Leeds Civic Trust) from the cycle “Leeds in your lunch time”… just 30minutes talks about the old city compared to the modern one. I was really surprised seeing the church completely crowded. I didn’t expected that these themes can raise so much interest.

Anyway, it’s a very detailed map, amazing for that time, and Cossins designed it after studies and measurements using a particular tool called Gunter’s chain and a plane table to sketch the plan following the right alignment of streets and buildings. So it’s very precise. You can se the rectangular shape of the fields, always with the same proportion of 22yards for 220 yards, because 22yards was the basic unit of the Gunter’s chain and Cossins reported it precisely on its map. In this way he designed long and narrow fields (as they actually were), representing the pattern of medieval agriculture.

But it’s also a celebration of the prosperity of Leeds, look at the description: “Leedes is a large, rich and populous town […] is particularly famous for its Great Manufacture of Cloth where here is every Tuesday and Saturday several thousand Pounds worth of Bread Cloath bought on Briggate in a few hours time..”

Annunci
Galleria

Deeper into the..cradle

Morning walk into the “cradle of Industrial Revolution” for some pictures, videos and spectrophotometer testing.

Once again astonished by the mix of old and new, by the conversion of old industrial buildings and the efforts to relaunch the area.

History has not been hidden, it’s been reinvented.
These places are able to tell stories and together to look to their future questioning:
What could we be tomorrow?

Video

Wind @ tower works

Wind. Water. Ground.

Sometimes a simple look around it’s what we need to understand what it was and why. I’ll try to explain.

1. Wind. Leeds enjoy a moderate climate, it has strong winds flowing  from the west, heavy showers and basically no snow. This because it stand in the foothills of Pennines.

2. Water. We’ve already talked about the River Aire, it enters the city from west, together with winds, and going to south-east it loses both depth and speed due to the land changes. But during its journey a lot of pure streams (or beck as the Vikings called them) join it. One of these was the Hol Beck, does it remember anything?

3. Ground. The point is that the particular composition of the soil makes the streams water soft and lime-free.  Morever the the mixed layer the ground is composed of provided naturally filtered water, very useful when the streams and rivers became too polluted to use.

These geographical features provided the Leeds wollen industry with soft, clean water for the washing ans scouring of the cloth. Later the streams to the west make the mills wheel move.

Citazione

“Obsessed as we have been in Leeds with mimicking the success of other ‘great’ northern cities, we seem to have lost our way in ensuring that the city develops in keeping with its unique geography, culture ans architecture, and it is this which perhaps defines our current dilemma.

..

Can we transcend the ‘meaningful cities shopping list approach’ and concentrate  instead on ensuring that Leeds develops in its own unique way?”

Jonathan Morgan, “City Living: is Leeds really missing out?”

Citazione

Meeting with professor M.A. Hann

Euclide using compasses in "Scuola di Atene" by Raffaello

Euclide using compasses in “Scuola di Atene” by Raffaello

Some weeks ago, following Steve’s suggestion we met professor M. A. Hann, teacher at University of Leeds and director of ULITA (University of Leeds International Textile Archive). He was pleased to hear from us, also because he has deep interest in Leeds’ History and since our first meeting he gave us some materials and he invited us to his lectures.

He told us that his researches have brought him around the world (except Italy, where he’s like to come) especially t the far East (China, Korea, Japan…). He studies patterns, structure and their relationship with culture. He’s also deeply interested in mathematics and how numbers series is related to pattern and module in architecture and design. But,it’s better to go in order. He has two different courses here at the University, linked one to each other.

The first is Patterns and Culture. In those lecture Prof Hann go through paleolithic art, caves’ paintings, Mesopotamian evidences to find similar structures, pattern, use of symmetry trying to understand their meaning in those cultures and how they spread in the world and why. In relationship with trades, religion, route of communication and people migration. The aim is to give a framework to examine arts and to understand the way of cultural diffusion and the discover the innate capability of innovation of different communities.

The second one, named “Design theory 2” is for older students, and it’s about universal principles governing structures, forms and performances in design and architecture. He kept saying that it could sound a lot about mathematics and boring things but, actually, symmetry and basics geometry is the starting point of every pattern. So he went through many existing pattern in building, and old paintings trying to answer the same questions:

How they can be rationalized?
How the space is divided?

We will discuss both two and three-dimensional stuff, try to individuate equilateral triangles, squares, hexagons an the rules that organize them: symmetry, rotation, repetition.. And that why he started his lesson showing us the Scuola di Atene, by Raffaello, whit Euclide drowning with a compasses. The key is to find a rule in the complexity, the regular basis on which a particular element is repeated.. Thus you’ll discover that from minimum inventory you’ll get maximum diversity.

I’ve linked prof. Hann’s books to the course names for any further information.