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Why Cov's concrete is beautiful.

Adam Steiner, creative projects lead for Silhouette Press, proclaims his love for Coventry's architecture COVENTRY is one of the most interesting and aesthetically challenging cities in the UK.

What makes Coventry so striking a place to live and work is its mixture of brutal urbanism, medieval history and a wealth of green spaces.

In many other UK cities, such elements sit in awkward opposition of cultural clash and are poorly valued, often left to ruin - in Coventry they are much-loved and embraced.

Over the last few years Coventry has seen a renewed spirit of revolution and reinvention at its heart, which has seen proactive citizens, arts organisations and forward thinking individuals embrace the massive potential of the city and its spaces, in much the same way that Berlin welcomed newcomers, explored its history and made the best of everything it had to offer.

I created a project called Disappear Here, to produce 27 poetry films about Coventry's huge concrete superstructure which I feel in time will become an iconic entity in its own right.

The idea was ambitious and sounded like madness to some, but we crowdfunded PS1,000 of start-up money, received local media coverage, interviews with the BBC and a profile in the Guardian newspaper.

Around 300 people from Coventry and beyond attended our launch screening which I feel helped to put the city and its ringroad firmly on the map.

Most importantly, it showed what is possible in exploring and reimagining overlooked city spaces. One of the things I love most about Coventry is its choice of open, green spaces, many of them city central, such as Coundon Wedge and further out Coombe Abbey.

This sparks a seeming contradiction between spaces deemed postindustrial and the heritage of medieval cobbled streets, and the bloodred sandstone remains of the old inner city wall that juts out alongside the concrete of the orbiting ringroad and its rising and falling slipways. Contrast this with the Modernist architecture and elevated walkways of Coventry's central shopping centre and the range of the connecting mosaic tunnels, passageways decorated with murals - especially the Brutalist dancing warriors of the Bull Yard precinct - it seems fitting that the city has been shortlisted for an Academy of Urbanism award - there is so much to see, explore and to celebrate.

The emerging creative quarter at FarGo Village has provided a much needed space for entrepreneurs, visitors and entertainers alike, while the CET project has opened-up the former Coventry Evening Telegraph offices - an important part of city's history and means of media production.

Increasingly more empty houses, shops, warehouses and factories across Coventry are being utilised as performance spaces, pop-up galleries and sites for artistic production.

For the city to truly thrive, more of this needs to happen - and it could if we win the title - as this will ensure a sustainable and nurturing environment for Coventry's next generation of artists, makers and cultural producers.

This is not something new - people forget that the city has a rich history of innovation and creation, including bicycles, motorbikes, watchmaking, cars and ribbon weaving - so let's keep it going and create more cultural opportunities.

Like many places in the UK, Coventry has suffered from post-industrial fallout and some would say a struggle for identity - this highlights a necessary tension between old and new that I think is best represented by two of Coventry's greatest built assets - architect Basil Spence's modern cathedral and the adjacent ruins.

Along with the city's three spires - these sites personify the city's ability to reinvent itself and be its own kind of beautiful; embracing tradition while seeking out new creative possibilities in a spirit of hope and ambition towards building a better future.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 27, 2017
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