Blog Assignment: Week 2

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This week’s bog assignment is threefold. Discuss what I am passionate about. Find a video (on TED?) that moves me emotionally and link it to my blog. Find a way to connect with people involved in the subject of my passion.

What am I passionate about?

Property. And, by property I mean dwellings. New homes interest me, but old houses excite me. I relish their history. There is something about a rundown old building that fires my imagination. I love to think about the possibilities. I embrace the problem solving that goes into renewing a property. I desire the unexpected challenges that arise and the serendipitous discoveries: The inscrutable plumbing or the beautiful fireplace hidden behind chipboard. Even an old newspaper beneath a carpet is exciting. All of these things delight me. I have lain away at night in blissful reverie imagining how a property could be renovated and renewed – despite the fact that it will never be mine and I might only covet it from the street.

Like many people’s passions there is an element of nostalgia. I grew up in a home that’s history dates back over 500 years, in the centre of a village that is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Naturally I have gained certain affinity with buildings and their past. When we first moved in, the place was a wreck and it took most of my childhood for it to be fully renovated. Perhaps this is why I love the smell of wet cement and plaster.

I remember when I was a little boy being told by a very old lady that lived along the road, Mrs Amy, that the Hydrangea in our front garden had been planted by her when she was a little girl. She had grown up there too and I loved this brief oral history.

This week’s assignment has sparked an inkling of an idea. A way a property developer could enhance the perceived value of a project: Creating a social documentary that enables the future owners or residents to empathise with the building and its history. This can be done relatively cheaply. It would be easy to create a coffee table book of nice photographic images of the development. I would also envision a video diary of the project covering the entire value chain; from the very first viewing with the estate agent through to profiling the very builders and tradesmen who transform it and documenting their work.

So, rather than just talk about it I am going to get down and dirty prototype. I am meeting the estate agent for this property on Thursday:

A sad building needing a lot of TLC

The Wesleyan chapel in Church Street was established in 1861 through pioneering work done by the students of Richmond Wesleyan Theological College. The church was built on land sold by George Urling of Hampton and has a capacity of 400. Three years after it’s erection there were 117 children in the Sunday school. In 1888 the Hampton chapel had 31 members but by 1900 this had dropped to only 21. The chapel remained in use until 1925. In 1945 it became a cold store. It was later converted to industrial space. For many years it housed a business that repaired electric blankets, before falling into disuse. It has now been derelict for over a decade.

I have driven past it on many occasions over the years watching it slowly dilapidate. Now I have a chance to look inside.

There is a plethora of property ‘porn’ on daytime television in the UK, but it is a struggle to find a supporting video for my passion on TED. The clip I have chosen is a speech by Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy.

Sweat the small stuff

I have picked this for a few reasons. Firstly, I attended a presentation by Rory last year. I liked him and felt inspired by his keen insight and slightly disruptive ideas. Secondly, he talks about lifts which links to one of the exercises we did earlier this week; I like links. His other TED presentation has a great anecdote on potatoes! Finally, I have chosen this because he talks about the little things that make a difference and don’t cost much money. My idea for sharing my passion for renewing a property fits into this category. In the short-term it adds a little extra for the client, in the long-term it adds a little extra to our cultural heritage and for someone one hundred years hence it might be of incalculable valuable.

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One response »

  1. Nick, this very close to my flat! I walked past it one day and I looked at it and though: Oh wow, if I had money to buy this I would love to “brush it up” and convert it into an art-gallery or something like that. It is such an amazing property.

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