Scotland’s Mysterious Garden of Cosmic Speculation

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Dumfries, Scotland.(Image: Flexdream. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland)

Some gardens are functional while others are merely decorative, but Charles Jencks’s Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a green-space on a whole different level. Private for all but one day a year, the 30-acre garden lies just a few miles north of Dumfries on the grounds of Portrack House, in the western part of the Southern Uplands.

Charles Jencks at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation(Image: Colin Hattersley. Charles Jencks at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation)

Pay it a visit on that day, and you’ll uncover an incredible study in cosmology, the universe, and all the things that we know, deep down, are much, much bigger than us.

(Image: John Lord)

Jencks, an American architectural theorist, landscape architect and designer, started building the garden in 1989, and incorporated concepts from biology and maths to philosophy and cosmology.

The Universal Cascade.(Image: John Lord)

A central feature of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation is the Universe Cascade, a series of steps that take visitors on a figurative journey through the billions of years since the universe’s creation.

Charles Jencks' Garden of Cosmic Speculation in the grounds of Portrack House, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.(Image: John Lord)

Elsewhere, a red spiral bridge links Heaven and Hell, while another area is reminiscent of mankind’s six senses (including intuition). But the garden also symbolises a higher calling in its practical purpose.

(Image: John Lord)

On that one day of the year that it’s open, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation helps to raise funds for the Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres, which Charles Jencks co-founded.

(Image: John Lord)

Named after Jencks’ wife Maggie, who lost her fight against cancer in 1995, the centres provide support for those battling the illness, and Maggie’s legacy lives on in the important work that the care centre’s do across the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

(Image: John Lord)

Read Next: The Geddes Family’s Tiny West Port Garden, Edinburgh

The post Scotland’s Mysterious Garden of Cosmic Speculation appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Scotland’s Mysterious Garden of Cosmic Speculation

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation in Dumfries, Scotland. (Image: Flexdream. The Garden of Cosmic Speculation, Scotland)

Some gardens are functional while others are merely decorative, but Charles Jencks’s Garden of Cosmic Speculation is a green-space on a whole different level. Private for all but one day a year, the 30-acre garden lies just a few miles north of Dumfries on the grounds of Portrack House, in the western part of the Southern Uplands.

Charles Jencks at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation (Image: Colin Hattersley. Charles Jencks at the Garden of Cosmic Speculation)

Pay it a visit on that day, and you’ll uncover an incredible study in cosmology, the universe, and all the things that we know, deep down, are much, much bigger than us.

(Image: John Lord)

Jencks, an American architectural theorist, landscape architect and designer, started building the garden in 1989, and incorporated concepts from biology and maths to philosophy and cosmology.

The Universal Cascade. (Image: John Lord)

A central feature of the Garden of Cosmic Speculation is the Universe Cascade, a series of steps that take visitors on a figurative journey through the billions of years since the universe’s creation.

Charles Jencks' Garden of Cosmic Speculation in the grounds of Portrack House, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. (Image: John Lord)

Elsewhere, a red spiral bridge links Heaven and Hell, while another area is reminiscent of mankind’s six senses (including intuition). But the garden also symbolises a higher calling in its practical purpose.

(Image: John Lord)

On that one day of the year that it’s open, the Garden of Cosmic Speculation helps to raise funds for the Maggie�™s Cancer Care Centres, which Charles Jencks co-founded.

(Image: John Lord)

Named after Jencks’ wife Maggie, who lost her fight against cancer in 1995, the centres provide support for those battling the illness, and Maggie’s legacy lives on in the important work that the care centre’s do across the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.

(Image: John Lord)

Read Next: The Geddes Family�™s Tiny West Port Garden, Edinburgh

Arizona: Adaptive Reuse at Centre of Tucson Redevelopment

Tucson, Arizona is at heart of an adaptive reuse project to create business space while ensuring sustainable development and historic preservation. (Image: Zereshk. Dowtown Tucson, Arizona skyline)

The city of Tucson, Arizona has embarked on an exciting project which, in our opinion, cities everywhere should take notice of. The adaptive reuse initiative aims to repurpose abandoned and vacant buildings in the city in a bid to get businesses into existing structures. The move will advantage developers, agents and business owners through the waiving of some fees, while ensuring sustainable development and the preservation of Tucson’s historic buildings.

According to Marana News: “The 24-month pilot program, focused on the adaptive reuse of existing buildings, uses existing code relief tools. Both during and after, the program assesses the effectiveness of the projects and whether additional code changes or other tools are needed. Metrics of success include number of jobs created, city revenues generated and reuse or recycling of materials.”

Tucson's restored Fox Tucson Theatre in the city's downtown. (Image: Google Street View. The restored Fox Tucson Theatre in downtown Tucson)

City of Tucson Historic Preservation Officer Jonathan Mabry told the newspaper that the adaptive reuse project would achieve historic preservation – by breathing new life into neglected older structures – and create sustainability through the recycling of whole buildings.

Mabry said: “This program will make it easier to get new businesses into old buildings,” adding that he expected the pilot project to kick off other adaptive reuse projects across the city. All being well, the ‘Adaptive Reuse Program’ will save developers time and money while boosting the economy through job creation and a proliferation of construction projects.

(Image: US Dept of Interior. Tucson Courthouse in 1898)

Marana News reports: The “Older, Smaller, Better in Tucson” study by the Preservation Green Lab in 2016 found the measurable benefits of urban fabric composed predominately by older buildings or mixed-vintage buildings to include real estate performance, higher densities of businesses and jobs, higher rates of startups and locally owned businesses, more inclusive business activity that is more diverse, and more resilient during economic downturns.”

We’re big fans of adaptive reuse at Urban Ghosts, both from an environmental and sustainability perspective, but also because of the emphasis the process places on historic preservation. Not only does the repurposing of heritage buildings anchor a city to its past while maintaining positive modern development, it also makes urban areas more interesting, as buildings that have played an important role in the community’s history are not simply swept aside.

You can find out more about Local First Arizona, which has worked hard over the past decade to advocate adaptive reuse, sustainability and localism, here.

Dilapidated Shepherd’s Huts in the Cotswolds

(Image: John Shortland)

They may look rather mundane, but these old shepherd’s huts are interesting given the increasing popularity of such items in the UK as home offices, summer houses, and even comfortable holiday accommodation. Shepherd’s huts can be surprisingly luxurious, so much so that I quite fancy one myself one day! If you’re planning to refurbish a dilapidated hut in the future, you may find this website inspiring. The above photograph by John Shortland was taken almost a decade ago near Charlbury in the Cotswolds. Hopefully these too have been restored.

The post Dilapidated Shepherd’s Huts in the Cotswolds appeared first on Urban Ghosts Media.

Dilapidated Shepherd’s Huts in the Cotswolds

(Image: John Shortland)

They may look rather mundane, but these old shepherd’s huts are interesting given the increasing popularity of such items in the UK as home offices, summer houses, and even comfortable holiday accommodation. Shepherd’s huts can be surprisingly luxurious, so much so that I quite fancy one myself one day! If you’re planning to refurbish a dilapidated hut in the future, you may find this website inspiring. The above photograph by John Shortland was taken almost a decade ago near Charlbury in the Cotswolds. Hopefully these too have been restored.

Lake Natron: A Deadly Body of Water Where Lesser Flamingos Thrive

Lesser flamingos at Lake Natron, Tanzania (Image: Christoph Strässler. Lesser flamingos at Lake Natron, Tanzania)

Tanzania’s Lake Natron is like hell on earth. Its waters are incredibly salty, with a pH similar to that of ammonia. Taking a swim would be nothing short of insanity, and the animals that do venture close enough to the lake to die along its shores can become almost calcified. Factor in the lake’s nightmarish red colour �“ a product of the cyanobacteria that flourishes there �“ and you have a location that looks like something out of a ghastly dream.

Photographer Nick Brandt, who documented the lake in his haunting series titled The Calcified, told Smithsonian Magazine: “It was amazing. I saw entire flocks of dead birds all washed ashore together, lemming-like.” He added: “You�™d literally get, say, a hundred finches washed ashore in a 50-yard stretch.”

Lake Natron, Tanzania (Image: NASA)

But there’s more to Lake Natron, which lies in Tanzania’s northern Arusha Region, than meets the eye. Every year it serves as the breeding ground of about 75 percent of the world’s lesser flamingos. The cyanobacteria, called spirulina, makes up a major part of the flamingos’ diet, and also gives them their distinctive pink colour.

What’s more, since the water birds are practically immune to the unusually caustic waters, they’re able to wade through shallows and leave potential predators behind. According to the Mother Nature Network, somewhere in the region of 2.5 million lesser flamingos converge on Lake Natron every year.

Ol Doinyo Lengai from Lake Natron (Image: Clem23. Ol Doinyo Lengai from Lake Natron)

Unfortunately, mankind might now be infringing on this incredible spectacle. Even though the species is considered �œnear threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, plans have been made to build industrial plants that will harvest the salt lake’s unique natural resources.

While those plans have been defeated, it’s unclear for how long. As MNN reported in October 2016: “Despite this victory, the flamingos remain in a precarious position as the forces of climate change and human encroachment loom.”

Lesser flamingos in Tanzania (Image: Charles J Sharp. Lesser flamingos in Tanzania)

“About 32 percent of Tanzania’s land is protected (the average for developing countries is just 13 percent), but Lake Natron’s only designation is that of a “Wetland of International Importance” �” a title that holds no enforceable policy power.”

Read Next: Skeleton Lake: The Terrifying Fate of India�™s Ancient Pilgrims

The Historic Ghost Town of Cairo, Illinois

Abandoned buildings in Cairo, Illinois (Image: Photolitherland. Abandoned buildings in Cairo, Illinois)

Cairo, Illinois was once a bustling city. Situated near the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, the settlement symbolised hope and safety for countless people. But today, many of its historic buildings are boarded up. According to Roadtrippers, this near ghost town has been an unfortunate victim of circumstance.

Abandoned buildings in downtown Cairo, Illinois, a ghost town of its former self.

(Images: hickory hardscrabble; MuZemike)

Cairo’s rapid decline is partially due to the reduction in riverboat traffic over the decades. When its prime location at the confluence of the rivers was no longer as important, the city itself was no longer as viable. But there’s a darker side to Cairo’s history, too, that’s bound up in racial tension and violence.

(Images: MuZemike; hickory hardscrabble)

At the end of the 19th century, the settlement became something of an destination for those fleeing the slavery of the south. But when they arrived, former slaves found the reality of the northern city wasn’t entirely what they’d imagined. Lynchings were common, and racial violence, protests and other conflicts increased in frequency.

(Image: Drowsy; MuZemike)

At its peak in 1920 Cairo, Illinois was home to more than 15,000 people. Today, less than 3,000 live in the town. Work is now underway to not only save and restore the abandoned buildings that make up much of Cairo’s historic downtown, but also to revitalise the city more broadly.

(Images: MuZemike 1, 2)

Read Next: Aesthetic Decay in Val-Jalbert Ghost Town, Quebec

The Ruined Beauty of Mogadishu Lighthouse

The haunting ruins of Mogadishu Lighthouse in Somalia. (Image: Boris Kester/Around the World in 80 Clicks. Ruined Mogadishu Lighthouse)

Few places in the world have endured such a chaotic existence over the decades as Somalia’s troubled capital, Mogadishu. It was described by National Geographic writer Robert Draper as �œ…ground zero for the failed state of Somalia, a place where pirates and terrorists rule.” Yet when he and his photographer, Pascal Maitre, visited the city, they discovered that some residents had found a special, quiet �“ if not exactly safe – place to lie low for even just a short while. That place was in the ruins of the lighthouse, a building that still stands resolute in spite of all that has befallen it; despite the holes in the walls and the floor, and the overwhelming smell of rot and filth.

Inside the crumbling Mogadishu Lighthouse. (Image: Boris Kester/Around the World in 80 Clicks)

Around the World in 80 Clicks visited the Mogadishu Lighthouse in 2014, reporting that the forlorn sentinel still had a caretaker, technically. Residing in one of the tower’s remaining rooms, he escorted the travellers to the top of the once-beautiful structure. There, he told them of its Italian design and construction (though other sources indicate that the structure may be pre-colonial) around a century ago.

Mogadishu Lighthouse (Image: Boris Kester/Around the World in 80 Clicks)

From the top, the view was that of a war-torn city and a sprawling, sandy beach that gave way to the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean. They reflect on how, before the destruction, the lighthouse stood in one of the most beautiful parts of the city, and traces of that beauty still remain.

(Image: Boris Kester/Around the World in 80 Clicks)

This lost elegance only serves to make the fate of the Mogadishu Lighthouse all the more heart-rending, a sad end for a building that once stood for safety and security. For some, of course, it still does.

Related: 10 Abandoned Lighthouses with Strange & Tragic Histories

Aesthetic Decay in Val-Jalbert Ghost Town, Quebec

Collapsing structures at Val-Jalbert ghost town in Quebec, Canada (Images: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose. Quebec’s Val-Jalbert ghost town)

With over 70 abandoned buildings still extant, Val-Jalbert ghost town could be Canada’s answer to Bodie, California. The ruined village was once at the heart of a thriving pulp industry. But time has taken its toll and the historic settlement in Quebec, which was established at the turn of the 20th century, looks almost aesthetic in its decay.

An abandoned house in Quebec's Val-Jalbert ghost town

Originally named Saint-Georges-de-Ouiatchouan, after the nearby river, Val-Jalbert was founded in 1901 by Damase Jalbert along with the Ouiatchouan Pulp Company. The associated pulp mill sought to exploit the rising demand for newsprint from the US and Great Britain, and was ideally positioned near two waterfalls that powered its machinery.

Derelict homes in Val-Jalbert long consumed by trees

The thriving settlement was renamed Val-Jalbert in 1913, having been bought out by American investors in 1904 after the death of its founder. Grand plans followed for an enlarged company town, where residential areas were laid out separately from the core business functions further down the hill.

But an outbreak of Spanish Flu around the end of the First World War ravaged Val-Jalbert’s small population, and a reduced demand for pulp (its plants made only pulp, not paper) saw production suspended indefinitely in 1927. Some unemployed workers hung on for a couple more years. But by 1929 the village, which relied on a single industry, was abandoned.

The deserted Val-Jalbert quickly became a ghost town. By 1949, it had passed into the hands of the Quebec government, and by the 1960s, it had become a tourist attraction. Three decades later the ghost town was designated a heritage site by the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications.

The rise and decline of Val-Jalbert spanned less than 30 years. But today the ghost town is a popular visitor attraction in Quebec, and one of the most impressive abandoned settlements in the whole of Canada. Of particular note are dozens of historic structures, long dilapidated, slowly collapsing into the earth.

There’s an artistic quality to these decaying buildings, which – although little more than rotting shacks when viewed in isolation – collectively tell the story of past lives, lost industry, and short-lived economic fortune.

Quebec's Val-Jalbert settlement is now a heritage site open to tourists.

Not all structures in Val-Jalbert lie in ruins, however. A handful of buildings, including the old schoolhouse, are surprisingly well preserved, and command a haunting time-capsule quality that is no less photogenic than their collapsing counterparts.

Preserved houses in Val-Jalbert ghost town

(Images: Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose)

Read Next: Lost Industry: 9 Abandoned Company Towns of North America

Angel of Death Victorious: The Legend of Cleveland’s Haserot’s Angel

Haserot's Angel in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio(Image: Tim Evanson. Haserot’s Angel in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio)

The official name for the haunting monument that stands over the tomb of Francis Haserot in Cleveland‘s Lakeview Cemetery is The Angel of Death Victorious. More colloquially, however, it’s known as The Weeping Angel due to the black stains that streak eerily down its face, making it look as though the statue itself is crying.

The Angel of Death Victorious(Image: Tony. The Angel of Death Victorious)

Seated on the tomb, what’s also known as Haserot’s Angel holds an inverted torch, snuffing out the flame in an image that represents the inevitable triumph of death over the living. Not surprisingly, Roadtrippers reported that the symbolic statue was the source of many tales of ghostly goings-on. Others have even claimed to see the angel move or cry, strange reports that have all the hallmarks of an urban legend.

Herman N. Matzen's Weeping Angel(Image: Tony. Herman N. Matzen’s Weeping Angel)

Needless to say, the real explanation for The Angel of Death Victorious’s appearance is much more worldly. The statue is cast from bronze, and its surface has been slowly discoloured over the years by moisture that collects on its surface and then drips to the ground, as a result of gravity rather than any paranormal activity.

The Weeping Angel statue guards the family tomb of Francis Haserot(Image: Tim Evanson. The statue guards the family tomb of Francis Haserot)

The Weeping Angel was crafted by Danish-born sculptor Herman N. Matzen, whose striking work can be seen all over the city. Born in 1861, he settled with his family in Detroit, Michigan. After studying in Europe Matzen returned to the United States, spending his adult life in Cleveland, Ohio.

Signed by Herman N. Matzen, 1923(Image: Tim Evanson. Signed by Herman N. Matzen, 1923)

The sculptor, who died in 1938, is buried in the same cemetery that’s watched over by his enigmatic Weeping Angel, a statue with a powerful ethereal beauty steeped in local legend, irrespective of the rational explanation behind its eerie reputation.

Matzen's statue is the source of many local legends(Image: Tim Evanson. Matzen’s statue is the source of many local legends)

Read Next: Discover More Enigmatic Statues Around the World

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