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The Voice of Some Other Storyteller: An Exploration of Edinburgh’s Closes

Part 1 Dissertation 2021
Gergana Negovanska
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture | UK
Edinburgh closes, forming a dense network that underpins the city’s historical townscape, are typically thought of as hidden, narrow and dark transition spaces and multiple studies of the city have predominantly taken socio-historical approaches to their examination. My dissertation offers a personal attempt to examine this unique urban form through an experience of a stranger in the city, a foreigner whose imaginary and language have been shaped by another place. This approach is informed by ideas developed by two Bulgarian authors, Georgi Gospodinov in his 2011 novel The Physics of Sorrow and Theodore Ushev in his 2019 experimental animated film under the same title. By rethinking the concept of the labyrinth and the figure of the Minotaur, both foreground a singular voice of a foreigner who carries memories of other places and languages. I examine a sample of temporal conditions encountered in specific closes: fragments of urban texts, a sense of confinement, a patch of moss, a sudden view and own reflection. Though a close study of these urban situations, the moments of darkness in the closes are transformed into pensive openings interrupting the conventional passage through space and acting as ‘side corridors,’ poetic apertures toward seeing the city anew.
Gergana Negovanska

Ella Chmielewska
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