The Granton Civicscope

CIVICSCOPE uses photographic, digital and archival resources to witness the city, its architectures and its voices evolve through time and space. It combines planning documents, maps and community archive with original photographic and photorealistic mapping in a multi-perspectival panoramic exhibition of the Granton Waterfront Redevelopment Area in North Edinburgh. Structured as a bi-directional leporello, Civicscope unfolds horizontally and vertically, in a tour of archival, virtual, idealised and community views of the area. The result is a kind of survey that references the precepts of the two best known Edinburgh town planners, Patrick Abercrombie and Patrick Geddes and recognises the challenges and contradictions of modern planning and consultation methods.

Civicscope: a bi-directional leporello unfolding horizontally and vertically

Civicscope is a visual artefact. It is presented deliberately in an aesthetic informed by the materials and architectural premises of new brutalism that guided so much of post-war development in the north Edinburgh areas of Granton, Muirhouse and Pilton. Twentieth century archive unfolds in parallel with idealised visions of the future rendered in their own 21st century urban planning aesthetic. Underneath these two visions of old and new, the archival and the ideal, are the theories, the policies and the plans that make up the infrastructures of consultation and design. Google Earth imagery captures the proximity of the virtual in everyday life - an architectural photographic odyssey through the datasets and data flows of the Google machine - that is sometimes, certainly in pandemic times, as close as we can get to the ground. At the bottom of all of this is the people, the community, the artists and the activists who live on that ground.

Civicscope is a non-commercial academic project created by Simon Phipps and Darren Umney, in collaboration with Liz McFall. The work is part of the Edinburgh Futures Institute Data Civics Programme with funding from the University of Edinburgh. Its production was wholly defined by the Covid19 pandemic and what imagery and sources were accessible and available from online sources. Archival images were sourced from the Canmore and Scran online catalogues of Historic Environment Scotland. Virtual images and videos were produced in Google Earth Studio. The narrator's voice was provided courtesy of CereProc Ltd, Edinburgh under their academic licensing programme. Volker M. Welter kindly allowed use of his article on the link between Team X and Geddes from the Team 10 online project. Video stills from the Pilton Video Archive are included with the permission of Screen Education Edinburgh.