Thursday, February 17, 2022

Town centre carry-on, time to name names!

This week Nairn town centre and its new building are on the front page of the Courier. A good moment for an update from the Gurn’s urban design correspondent:

“ With impeccable timing, in the same week that the Highland Council was publicly condemned by the Ombudsman for its handling of the planning and delivery of the new housing and office block in the town centre, officials have sent out an invitation to selected local recipients to suggest a name for the building.

The naming of new streets and buildings is clearly taken very seriously by the Council, They have a dedicated department responsible for the task, the Corporate Address Gazetteer team or CAG. Their invitation comes with a detailed 3-page guidance note, available here. [] 

This is clearly an opportunity not to be missed, and a possible source of inspiration. The past example of "Boaty McBoatface" is an illustration of what creative public discussion can produce....

So suggestions are invited. The Gurn’s Gaelic adviser will of course be expected to scrutinise and translate all proposals to make sure none is a rude word in that language.

"The Carbuncle" is already too familiar and over-used. But in a nod to the prospective occupants of the ground floor, perhaps “The Scab” is a possibility?

“Alcatraz", “The Lubyanka" or "Colditz" come to mind, given the grim architecture and prison-block structure.

For those with literary pretensions, “Bleak House” is an option, or to be more up to date, “The Fortress of Mordor”.

But our correspondent's favoured suggestions are:

"Desolation Row" – after the epic song by the great Bob Dylan; or "Gormenghast" – from the Mervyn Peake novels. Described as “a vast, ugly, ponderous castle of stone... stagnant, insular and introspective ....whose remaining inhabitants centre their lives on the rituals surrounding the ruling family of Groan who occupy the castle." That seems remarkably apt in all kinds of ways.

So come on, Gurnshire, seize the moment. The Council may have trashed the agreed Town Centre Regeneration Plan. They may not have bothered to consult the community about the location, design or purpose of the new structure. They may have ignored all the critical comments. But shouldn’t we be grateful for small mercies? We are at least being given a chance to name the new building. Let’s do it!