Matter of Taste?

26 05 2011

Posted by Jun

I found the Lancaster Square Routes Project which aims to ‘upgrade’ public spaces in the Lancaster city centre and I learned that the Sun Square is part of the public spaces to be ‘rejuvenated’ in the proposal. It could be said, probably, that, when I saw Sun Square, the weather was so perfect so that I did not see the claimed neglected feeling. However, there are some elements in the design that makes me dubious about the aesthetic quality it would bring about if realized.

To me, the square has good juxtaposition of humble side elevations of buildings, the distinctively decorated ‘Music Room’ facade and the well-grown tree. I think the unusual juxtaposition gives the atmosphere of ‘hidden gem’ as the proposal calls it. To make it clear, I am not arguing that we should keep the space as it is. Facilitating more interactions between buildings and the square, putting better seating or better accessible pavement would surely improve the place. However, covering the bare elevation with Greek mythology themed art-work, putting highly mannerist topiary trees and high-maintenance fountain in such a intimate-scale square seem, simply, too much. It just reminds me of Art Nouveau obsession revived by entrepreneurial urban landscape rhetoric. I hope that the proposal will be upgraded when they secure the fund for the project.

The Current Sun Square

Charm of Being Hidden

3 05 2011

By Jun Lee

I happened to go to a charming cafe, the Music Room, in Lancaster during Easter. The amusing quality of the coffee and the space of the square were magnificent.

The characteristics of the square are more or less of Camillo Sitte’s findings of pre-Modern squares: well-secluded by buildings; not interrupted by roads etc. However, surely, the experience of discovering unexpected place was the most amusing part of the place for me.

When we were going through the small parking space (1 on map), we could only see narrow back alley (2 on map) and we were not sure where we were going to, then we saw a glimpse of open space on our right-hand side, where some people were having outside. That was Sun square with a cafe and a restaurant at the corner. It is still linked to the ‘pedestrianized’ high street, through a type of mews gate (3 on map); however that route is not spatially inviting to outsiders so that you may ‘discover’ it. (or, sorry for spoiling your fun, readers)