Burngreave leads to Pye Bank on the northern fringe of Sheffield's city centre. I was rambling there on Saturday afternoon with camera in hand. Locals in this tight, deprived neighbourhood - many of whom hail from distant lands - Somalia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq - may have seen me and wondered who this foreigner was in their midst and why was he snapping pictures? Probably a snooper from the Department of Work and Pensions hunting for work-shy benefit claimants.
Cities require energy. The architecture of energy production or transfer is all around us. We will often pass it without noticing. We notice, often with warm delight, churches and town halls, shopping malls, museums and universities but it's as if we wish that all evidence of energy production and transfer would simply disappear into its own functional ugliness.
Up there on the lofty promontory of Burngreave, I looked to the east and saw the state-of-the-art Sheffield Incinerator which each day converts several tons of household waste into electricity and also into hot water for heating nearby council estates. Visually it has a striking, modernistic appearance. In 2010, energy production does not have to be about choking smoke emissions, grime and sooty, functional constructions. Some critics protest that in spite of its clean appearance and claims to the contrary, the incinerator is responsible for up to 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
I looked to the west where the River Don flows down from Hillsborough to the gas holder at Neepsend. Sometimes called gasometers, gas holders are mainly designed to regulate the pressure of stored gas. I thought this industrial monstrosity looked comfortable amidst russet autumnal foliage. It has risen and fallen in the same location since Victorian times.
It's funny isn't it? We want energy, we need it but usually within urban environments we despise or at the very least choose to ignore the structures that allow us to access it.