Trains transect spaces: urban to rural, city to the sea, valleys to highlands. And in between? Edgelands: spaces left unclaimed, unloved, spaces that form the thin black line between zones. Narrow, bordered by order, but in themselves chaotic, overlooked, lost. But not un-purposed.
Edgelands are claimed, claimed by those industries we don’t want to live with, but can’t live without. Those industries that clean, strip down, repurpose, crush, recycle or burn that which we cannot sell or gift. The industries of the junkyard, the sewage farm, the respray shops, the metal workers. Abattoirs and ice factories.
The edgelands facilitate: they maintain the illusion of perfection by housing the impure. The compost heap is hidden away, but without it the roses wilt.
From the train, i see them: cars, once prized, once loved, once exemplars of potential energy and torque, now lined up in one last queue. Landfill sites, picked clean by seagulls who hop and dash between the yellow steel diggers that stratify, squash and slice yesterday’s rubbish to tomorrows coal.
And the edgelands of thought: ideas held in the recesses of our mind. Things that may one day be purposeful but today simple squat, waiting, watching, ambitious for the chance of application.
The edgelands are democratised: no glorious architectural statements here beyond the utilitarian and functional. No glass and steel beyond those shards that fall from the skip as it’s upended.
We value these spaces only in as much as they facilitate the green parks and parking lots. Without one, you cannot have the other. Diametrically opposed and yet linked in the middle. The fulcrum of beauty and order, the spaces for dereliction.
You cannot have beauty without disorder, you cannot have learning without reflection and failure. We may not celebrate decay, but without it, nothing can bloom.
We need to think where our spaces are for thinking, our spaces for play, our spaces for failure.