Safe As Houses afternoon activity, 9th June 2012 


We shouldn’t have been there: the only comment that Isi Metzstein, the original architect, had to make about the plans for the Invisible College was simple: ‘Don’t underestimate,’ he said, ‘the difficulty of making that building safe.’

We spent an afternoon trying anyway. Using equipment usually associated with crime scenes, we tried to demarcate places where a child might play in safety, and to mark the spot, we placed a tent, or a little plastic table and chair.

The effect was both sinister and comical; but it left participants feeling that they had taken responsibility for the ruins, even if only for an afternoon. We were left with questions: should we tidy it up further? Make it safer?

Or should we leave it be? In three decades of ruination, no-one has died there. In the absence of the usual machinery of ‘elf and safety’, visitors and trespassers have taken responsibility for their own safety with remarkable success.

Perhaps they should continue to do so.

posted by Ed Hollis, IC team, University of Edinburgh

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