Urban Allotment Gardens in Europe

Urban allotment gardens in the Greater Dublin Area: a creative re-imaging and re-imagining of residential landscapes

In discussing the city Raban (1974: 9) describes certain moments where the city goes soft awaiting the imprint of an identity. ‘For better or worse, it invites you to remake it, to consolidate it into a shape you can live in,’ (Raban, 1974: 9). While Raban is discussing a place already formed, albeit in a fluid way, allotments on the other hand are a blank canvas. They are spaces awaiting not only consolidation, or re-invention, but conception. Within this conception they are also spaces that can be imagined and imaged. Raban describes the peculiar relationship between humans and material that exists in the continual creative play of urban living, the soft city of our imaginations, however this is often impacted upon by the hard facts of city life (1974; 10). Allotments are a space in-between these two positions; a space that while defined and limited by its function also allows for the impression of identity that doesn’t encounter the hard facts of urban life. While allotments are functional spaces they are also creative spaces and represent the creative imaginings of plot holders. My chapter in this book is a visual exploration of how the people who cultivate and occupy these allotment landscapes in Dublin personalise these spaces and in doing so highlights how space is translated into place. The main aim is to examine how allotments are visualised, understood and constructed. The chapter argues that the spatial composition and creative visualisation of the contemporary Dublin allotment highlights a re-imagining of residential landscapes and urban space.

Urban Allotment Gardens in Europe (2016) Edited by Simon Bell, Runrid Fox-Kämper, Nazila Keshavarz, Mary Benson, Silvio Caputo, Susan Noori, Annette Voigt. Published by Routledge.

Book website - https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138921092

Mary Benson's webpage - https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/people/mary-benson