Regeneration of an urban town can often be piecemeal - focused on small areas of heritage value - a defibrillatory approach to bringing back a pulse of life into the community.
Over in Rochdale the council is taking a radical new approach by providing, quite literally, a stent to the urban heart of the town.
They plan to open up a significant length of the River Roch which was culverted over 100 years ago and now lies beneath a concrete forest of pilasters.
Yet, one fascinating thing remains - a medieval bridge. Dating to the C13th or early C14th it lies beneath, voussoirs resplendent against the concrete backdrop.
Revealing the river will bring new life and new purpose to a town hard hit by the recession.
I was asked to come along and photograph the journey to the medieval bridge and I did so with two cameras - one firmly sat on a tripod and the other attached to my helmet.
The results show a haunting journey through time, beyond the brutal concrete jungle, through the Victorian pop-rivets into a mysterious world of medieval structure revealed by the half-light.
Here is a mix of the pics from both cameras:
In terms of architectural history there are some buildings which are supercharged with energy. The Basilica of Saint Denis near Paris is one such building.
Walk over to the Chancel and the Sanctuary and look up at the vaulting in the ambulatory and here you will see where the Gothic style was born.
OK, there have been others who have tried to claim the Gothic mantle of originator, but this is the first place where we see the pointed arch and vault with such lightness and clarity. It is here where the Gothic style reaches ‘critical mass’.
Pevsner says: “Whoever designed the choir at St Denis, one can safely say, invented the Gothic style…the pointed arch, the flying buttress, and the rib-vault….What was decisively new….was the combination of these motifs for a new aesthetic purpose. (Pevsner, An Outline of European Architecture, Penquin, London 1943).
One particular visual joy is the tension between later Classical elements of the church shunted up against the original Gothic (see the top photo).
And it doesn’t stop there. The Basilica is also known as the Royal Necropolis. Almost all of the Kings and Queens of France are buried there (bar three).
The last act was to seal the mummified heart of the Dauphin in the wall of the crypt in 2004.
Knock out door knockers and door furniture - revealing more than their utilitarian purpose in terms of our love of style, texture, pattern and decoration over the ages.
The Wing Chester - photographed in the Spring - wonderful use of concrete. More pics in my portfolio