The De-Tour is a self-guided, alternative tour of a neighbourhood or other walkable area. Directed by prompts, questions, suggestions and invitations, the De-Tour encourages participants to explore familiar spaces from a new perspective, to creatively reimagine the spaces of our everyday lives.
The De-Tour developed in response to and conjunction with Botanic Concrete participants’ desire to “get in the space,” to interact more directly with Garnethill.
The most important material for the De-Tour is a list of ideas and questions. Participants should meet beforehand to discuss their interests–what about the location is of interest to them? What questions do they have? What are their hobbies?–and use these ideas to formulate prompts and alternative ‘lenses’ through which to view the sites of the De-Tour.
A physical kit of tools (e.g. cameras, pens and paper) is a highly productive though ultimately optional component of the De-Tour. A box or other container can be used to hold not only these tools for exploration, but also for gathering any found objects during the walk. A map of the area is also useful, though not mandatory. Outdated maps, technical maps (e.g. sewer maps), or other alternative renderings of the area can stimulate investigation, and these maps can be used to create a ‘route’ for the tour.
The Botanic Concrete De-Tour allowed small groups of Botanic Concrete participants to explore Garnethill, investigating themes including green space, architecture, birds and words among others. After discovering that Garnethill was once the site of an observatory, we decided to use images of constellations to create our tour routes: constellations visible from Glasgow were printed on transparencies and overlaid on outdated maps of Garnethill, arbitrarily designating ‘sites of interest’ at each of the stars. The groups each focused on very different suggestion and tools within the box of suggestions and ideas assembled, and the process led to creative and verbal articulations of participants’ interest in the area as well as their interests for future projects. Participants discovered the remains of a night nurse’s residence, hidden courtyards, obstructions of public access to public space, and many words written on and carved into buildings expressing the history and voices of Garnethill.