Local Heart, Global Soul

April 12, 2014

Not Water From Wine, But Renewal From Wine Warehouses…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Big cities all over the world are regularly faced with the dilemma of how to upgrade  former industrial areas.

In European cities that have grown substantially over the centuries, industries that were once on the outskirts of the city  now find themselves in prime residential and commercial  areas as the city and it’s population expands.

Inevitably the encroachment means that land prices rise and industrial use is not longer as profitable, transportation of industrial sized goods become difficult in now more densely populated areas and the industries start searching for cheaper land out of town where transport is easier and land prices are cheaper.

This eventually leaves old historical inner city areas run down or derelict and local councils have to decide between demolition or incorporating the old buildings into the regeneration project.

In the Bercy Village area in Paris, France there were long rows of wine warehouses that presented just such a problem  but luckily the solution found was to turn this into an artisan shopping area. The renovated warehouses now house cafés, restaurants and a large variety of shops, I will admit that it is rather touristy, but listening to the languages spoken as I walked past the outside tables of the eateries, it seems to be a popular place with locals too.

I like that some of the original features such as the railway line in the street have been kept, even if they have been filled in and are just symbolic.

The metro station is close by so I passed this every day at various times of day but took the photographs early on a Sunday morning when things were quiet and I could walk and take photos without the jostle and bustle of the crowds. I did try and take photos at other times but it was so busy the views were obscured.

On the Saturday I shopped there buying a long rainbow coloured ribbon on a stick (like the ones rhythmic gymnasts use)  for Kiwi Daughter to play with in the park and a wind-up torch for LittleMr. who was busy at home trying to waste as many batteries as possible with his obsession with torches at the time. Himself  scored some handmade chocolates and a bottle of the very alcoholic type.

The metro station is on the other side of the wine warehouses but instead of getting the business park and office worker commuters to walk around the long row of warehouses, one of the warehouse buildings was left empty, exits made in the back and is now a covered passageway that short-cuts though the line of buildings without changing the style, line or character of the buildings very much at all. It’s the kind of sympathetic solution to solve a practical problem whilst still keeping the history that I love. Ingenious!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

April 4, 2013

You Take The Low Road and I’ll Take The … ….Lower (Canal) Road!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In continuance of yesterdays post, our train journey has bought us to the city of Utrecht. We had booked a boat trip for our two families on one of the canal tour boats and needed to find the place where the boat will be moored. Luckily the distance from the station is relatively short and we find it without problem.

The reason we have bought them to Utrecht is because these canals are unlike most other canals in Dutch cities. Basically the Gracht (canal) runs though the city centre, nothing new or different about that, but it’s like there are streets beneath streets here… what you might call the lower street runs along the canal and is lined with wharfs,  warehouses and commercial cellars… and then above those are the regular streets above, with  the usual things you’d expect to see: shops, houses etc.

In centuries past the canal was the main mode of transport, everything:  building materials, industrial goods, food, cloth, livestock and beer were delivered by boat, since the dirt or cobbled roads were narrow and congested.

These days some of the cellars and warehouses have been converted into artisan workshops, restaurants, cafés,  boutiques  and have found more fashionable and up to date uses than just storage of commercial goods. Even the space under some of the bridges has been used… one of them was the local jail… looking dark, damp and cramped, I hope it acted as a deterrent for some would-be criminals. A more recent, World War II addition to another bridge is a German bunker.

In a few spots there are some wide steps that lead up to the upper street level. We learn that the particular one in my photo are 34 such steps dating from the 1600’s that could be used to get water quickly from the canal to the upper street above whenever there was a fire:  no hoses or pumps or course, just a bucket line and a lot of frantic work.

Let’s take a closer look at this unusual configuration of upper and lower streets…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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