Sense of place - the importance of the Number 1 bus #takeover

I’ve come to know Bristol as my home through growing up here, and through years of travelling across parts of the city on the Number 1 bus. From my house, into town, to school, to work. I’ve always travelled from home into town without really thinking; my daily journey to school was a mode of almost subconscious travel where often I’d find myself at registration without even realising. Little things I’d see and do on the bus every morning – the man who ALWAYS took up two seats even though it was quite clear he didn’t need them, the way I could perfectly judge how many songs I would listen to on my iPod between College Green and school, the way I could (usually) juggle my school bag, PE kit, DT folder, iPod AND hold on so I didn’t fall over – it all became habit.

This habit and routine of taking the same route every day meant that I got to know the very cracks in the pavement between home and the bus stop, and between the bus stop and school. I had a physical routine; I paced exactly the same steps each time. I always stepped up onto the pavement outside my house with my left foot – sounds obsessive but that’s just the way it happened.

My mental map of Bristol is centred upon the area in which I grew up; other areas are mapped in relation to it through the journeys I made to get to them. I had a true sense of place in the area where I grew up because I hardly even thought about it. It’s only now that I’ve moved house that I realise this. Now, I still get the bus into town, but I think about the route and what I’m doing. I leave extra time because I don’t know how long it will take. The journey is yet to come naturally to me.

I still see the #1 bus and for a second think ‘Urgh! Better run for it!’ even though it’s not my bus anymore. I worry that I’ll end up getting a taxi back to my old house after a night out, only to be sobered up when my key no longer fits in the lock! These routes and journeys are so ingrained into the way I think about Bristol. 

Everyone must make journeys like this – ones taken every day across the streets of Bristol without even really being noticed. It’s these journeys that form an important part of our relationship with our built environment – the relationship that makes us feel truly at home somewhere. It’s a weird one because once you realise it, you can’t do the journeys without noticing them. And then perhaps the sense of place is lost. But I think we should celebrate these Bristolian journeys. Our well-trodden routes are associated with memories and emotions, even if we don’t realise it at the time. They form integral parts of our lives; the parts which help to create a true sense of place.

This guest blog post was written by Architecture Centre volunteer Georgina Perry @GeorginaPerry1