Will Jennings

Phantasmagoria and the Garden Bridge, Part I

December 26, 2019

I. LONDON

…AS WORLD CITY

Changes to the built form of London since the strikes and economic downturn of the seventies have been arresting. So, too, is the changed reading of it as a city in the global consciousness. The bombed, urban core of the world’s largest empire was reborn in a spectacular explosion of architectural icons and burgeoning tourism, at the forefront of the emergent tech, financial and leisure sectors. It is the tale of an urban phoenix rising from its postindustrial ashes.

Some cities, like the Gulf coast megalopolises, configure their global identity around the desert-defying skylines of a new urban typology. Others, such as Venice or Prague, present as preserved in aspic; as if by simply gazing upon images of them, the viewer could reach back into a timeless past and enter an imagined historical truth. Both these visions, of sparkling modernity or untramelled history, are untrue and exist as marketable imaginaries; concealing a wealth of narratives. They do, however, illustrate how the projected image of place informs the distanced understanding of it globally.

With Roman, medieval, industrial and modern histories embedded in its streets, London has a unique presentation. Brand London is a montage of the past and future, an apparent offer of contemporary opportunity bursting forth from its imperial and architectural background. This abets its image as an attractive destination for the first-time visitor interested in heritage, and to returning tourists for whom the latest high-profile addition to the city’s fabric might merit returning. For businesses, too, the constant accretion of newness keeps the city interesting. In a world where global organisations can relocate with relative ease, the need for London to be constantly tweaking and besting itself is part and parcel of its World City positioning.

Another image of London exists concurrently to Brand London, and it is one comprised by digital imaginaries. Computer Generated Images [CGIs] present architectural propositions as existent and already integrated into the built city. Even pre-planning schemes can be shared to the press through hyper-realistic imagery that can be easily mistaken for photography. These pictures can be viralised with the swipe of a screen and they are craftily designed to promote and provoke, to conceal, excite and seduce. Their success in eliciting these affects translates into financing: unbuilt London property is bought and sold around the world solely on the back of CGIs and marketing spiel. A digital spectre shrouds the actual city (Minton 2017, 15-24).

Nine Elms Square CGI @ Glass Canvas for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 2019

 

The term “World City” was coined by John Friedmann in 1986 by drawing attention to studies relating to spatial changes resulting from global economic forces. He set them out in seven theses as “major sites for the concentration and accumulation of international capital” that “…bring into focus the major contradictions of industrial capitalism – among them spatial and class polarisation”. A key section identifies new emergent economies ―“corporate headquarters; international finance; global transport and communications; and high-level business services, such as advertising, accounting, insurance and legal”― as adding to ideological penetration and control through the “production and dissemination of information, news, entertainment and other cultural artefacts”. Friedmann noted that many of these professional services were engaged in international trade with global clients, and that cities were increasingly formulating self-presentations that played to these corporate and leisure audiences.

His hypothesis was later picked up on by Doreen Massey in her appraisal of London’s early neoliberal years after Thatcher’s closure of the Greater London Council and a free-marketisation illustrated no more powerfully than by the Big Bang deregulation of the financial system, both in 1986. What followed, under not just the Conservative governments through to 1997, but also during Labour’s Blair years, was a neoliberal project by which private capital took over once publicly-managed utilities and welfare state functions; putting a greater reliance on competitive individualism than the common, public good and shared resources. In Massey’s words, this was “more than a question of economics; it set the scene for a shift in a whole way of being. It is all this that has been the foundation of London’s reinvention” (2007, loc. 17%).

…AS TOWNSCAPE

The Brand London montage of traditional past and prosperous future was cemented during this period, when many older systems and structures —legacies of its relationship to empire and colonialism, or what Jacobs calls “Imperial nostalgias”— were folded into a new image:

“In the City of London, for example, imperial nostalgias are not simply present as a residual past. They are sanctioned and activated by conservation practises which influence, in most material ways, the very course the City takes into the future. Here as in the various other case studies, tradition is not simply about an escape from modernity but about negotiating modernity, about being modern. Indeed, it is precisely the desire to memorialise empire that has helped to drive the City beyond its traditional boundaries.” (2002, p. 159)

James Stirling’s No. 1 Poultry @ Historic England Archive, 2011

 

As Massey explains, the global economic shift resulted in a “spatial reorganisation” (2007, loc. 14%) from which World Cities emerged. The neoliberal process also reorganised at the lesser scale of architectural forms and materials. Jacobs cites the example of James Stirling’s Number 1 Poultry building, directly addressing John Soane’s Bank of England. A now Grade II* listed postmodern office building designed between 1985 and 1988, and completed in 1998, its form picked up on the neo-classical vernacular and street pattern of London’s financial district, developed as a scheme after a long-running saga in which developer Peter Palumbo finally gave up on his initial plans for a modernist glass tower.

Palumbo was under pressure from the Corporation of London and conservationist groups to adhere to a Townscape model of development that preserved —or, if possible, enhanced—the “architecture, skyline and distinctive townscape” of the city as a compositional, rather than individual, approach to urban design, informed by picturesque approaches to landscape and painting (Aitchison, 2012; Erten, 2008; Jacobs, 2002). Montaging of past and future helped create an ambiance which made space for historicism whilst allowing developments that met post Big Bang requirements for larger, open-plan office and trading spaces.

“The City of London… is noted for its business expertise, its wealth of history and its special architectural heritage. The combination of these three aspects gives the City a world-wide reputation which the Corporation is determined to foster and maintain… The City’s ambiance is much valued and distinguishes it from other international business centres.” (Corporation of London, 1986, in Jacobs, 2002, 55)

Richard Rogers’ Lloyd’s Building @ Tony Hisgett, date unknown

 

Another spectacular singular moment of architecture, also incorporating montage and postmodern techniques, was Richard Rogers’ Lloyd’s of London offices, also from 1986. Following his interventions in the Parisian Marais with the Centre Pompidou, Rogers designed a hi-tech, avant-garde HQ for the insurance firm in a modern-day interpretation of Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace. In a style different to Stirling’s Poultry, it incorporated elements of the historic into its public-facing and internal spaces, described in the English Heritage (now Historic England [HE]) listing statement as:

“a purpose-built headquarters for an internationally important organisation that successfully integrates the traditions and fabric of earlier Lloyd’s buildings (including the Adam Room moved originally from Bowood House, the 1925 Cooper façade and fixtures such as the Lutine Bell)… the building, which looked to Victorian as well as mid C20 buildings for inspiration, firmly retains the splendour of its awe-inspiring futuristic design, 25 years (at the time of listing in 2011) after it opened… has many listed neighbours and it forms a wonderfully incongruous backdrop to many of these in captured vistas throughout the City…with international renown that cast the image of the City of London in a new light.” (HE, 2011)

This was arguably the first piece of neoliberal architecture in the capital which could be designated as iconic, that is, as an “urban totem” representing extant power structures and “constituting new social relations as real or naturalised during moments of social, economic, or political change” (Kaika, 2011). London’s emerging neoliberal landscape in 1986 was such a moment, and Lloyd’s could illustrate Kaika’s remark that this type of architecture was “linked to the need to institute a new ‘radical urban imaginary’ for a new generation of elite power”.

…AS THE PICTURESQUE

“What we really need to do now… is to resurrect the true theory of the Picturesque and apply a point of view already existing to a field in which it has not been consciously applied: the city.” (Hastings, 1944, p. 3)

As we can see from HE’s listing of Lloyd’s, the icon in London was formed around a townscape notion of juxtaposition, framing and relationships of form which carefully related the historic and traditional to the contemporary and experimental. The concept of the townscape derived from a campaign led from 1944 through to the mid-seventies in the pages of Architectural Review (AR) by its proprietor Hubert de Cronin Hastings, with support from editor Nikolaus Pevsner (Aitcheson, 2012).

Pevsner’s approach to visual planning sought to draw a through-line from Uvedale Price’s picturesque landscape movement of the 18th century into 20th century urban architecture. Together, Hastings and Pevsner thought that postwar modernism could be incorporated into a picturesque armature to create a more human townscape of varied textures, materials and admixed old and new. As with Price’s vision on landscape —detailed in his 1792 Essay on the Picturesque— this was territory to explore on foot, replete with unexpected turns, rough edges, clashes and experiences.

Price’s writings had, in turn, been a reaction against Capability Brown’s take on place, rooted in long vistas of a carefully controlled simulacrum of nature in which visitors had prescribed, linear paths extending into the private landscape.

“The borders of these walks are so thickly planted, and the rest of the wood so impracticable, that it seems as if the improver [Brown] said, ‘You shall never wander from my walks; never exercise your own taste and judgement, never form your own compositions: neither your eyes nor your feet shall be allowed to stray from the boundaries I have traced’ a species of thraldom unfit for a free country” (Price, 338).

Price instead proposed softening edges, leaving extant natural or man-made elements in place and building an at least apparently more open path for visitors to navigate at will. Though in reality this shaping of place was no more natural than Brown’s, it looked more akin to an idea of rustic honesty. Not coincidentally, this shift in landscape ideals can be read parallel to the ruling classes’ concerns of revolutionary action; accompanied by a subtle reshaping of parliamentary politics, which made efforts to appear less paternalistic and more participatory (Bermingham, 1994).

St. Paul’s Cathedral @ Associated Press, 1945

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral was critical to the townscape movement; its epic isolation in the postwar rubble establishing it as the architectural beacon for a damaged but victorious nation. Its dome had affected planning policy around allowable building heights since 1935 and been a recognisable architectural moment of London ever since it cast its shadow on the ruins of the Great Fire in 1666. It was present in the art of Canaletto, and served as stageset for innumerable mediated events, from royal weddings to the Occupy movement. It is this embedding of a building into social history that buttresses its status as icon, its aesthetic qualities enclosed within a social meaning that enable it to work as a central component in “negotiating modernity” (Jacobs, 2002, 50).

As postwar capitalist, then neoliberal, London rebuilt over the second half of the 20th century, St. Paul’s became central to the picturesque rendering of its skyline. From numerous angles and locations, direct sightlines of the dome are protected by planning law, shaping the modern city around this nostalgic cultural artifact. The most recent Greater London Authority [GLA] London Plan outlines three types of strategic view ―“London Panoramas, River Prospects, Townscape Views”― while St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Palace of Westminster and the Tower of London are singled out for protection within Landmark Viewing Corridors and Wider Setting Consultation (2016, 300-306).

London Plan Viewing Corridors @ The Crown, 2016

 

Such sightlines have been considered in London planning for many years and are an immediate go-to regulation for campaigners opposing particular developments. One of the most celebrated views of London is from Waterloo Bridge, reflected by Landmark Viewing Corridors 8A.1 and 9A.1, and Viewing Place 15 in the 2016 London Plan. The panoramic vantage afforded at this bend in the river offers a view in which St. Paul’s can be read in relation to the growing cluster of City towers, which Günter Gassner states is “constructed as a historicist image as much as a world city image… The ‘new London skyline’ is best understood as a space that is defined by an ideology of economic growth and a static, highly limited framing of civic importance” (2017, 760).

St. Paul’s does not, of course, represent only civic importance. By proximity and association, its symbolic ties to the Empire, World War II and the Great Fire have also been absorbed by the collection of neoliberal organisations and institutions within the glass towers which are its present frame and backdrop. This is the creation of a picturesque moment through planning and strategy, with a relationship to picturesque landscape design in which sightlines to historic architectural moments, such as church towers, are incorporated into new landscaping to lend authority and rootedness to place and past.

Beginning with An Essay on Prints (1768), William Gilpin, a contemporary of Price, spread the notion of the picturesque in art. His writing offered guides for those embarking on Grand Tours of how to read and render picturesque landscapes, considering “the art of sketching is to the picturesque traveller, what the art of writing is to the scholar” (1794, 61). He looked to the works of painter Claude Lorrain and his compositional tool of the mirrorglass for reflecting a landscape and abstracting it into a frame. For Gilpin, the picturesque traveller had to seek out these framed views which were worth sketching from “all the ingredients of landscape – trees – rocks – broken-grounds – woods – rivers – lakes – plans – vallies – mountains – and distances”, emphasising the critical role played not only by form, but object composition.

William Gilpin’s view of Scaleby Castle, his birthplace, copyright unknown.

 

It is this rendering of the picturesque ―as a device for structured sightlines and composed frames of view― rather than the AR’s proposition of using it to fashion meandering, experiential passage through place that became dominant in neoliberal townscape approaches. It has resulted in numerous picturesque frames of the City, including the sightline from Waterloo Bridge, which shape the World City imaginary of London. These offer postcard-views and marketable images of place which conform to Gilpin’s picturesque framing, making tradition and the historic its focus, with the glass and steel of the City’s financial towers standing, by proxy, for the nature of the original picturesque. In this context, St Paul’s plays the gothic folly or ruin in the country estate, offering its history, meaning and power to the surrounding architectural overgrowth. In Gilpin’s words:

“…the picturesque eye is perhaps most inquisitive after the elegant relics of ancient architecture; the ruined tower, the Gothic arch, the remains of castles and abbeys. These are the richest legacies of art. They are consecrated by time; and almost deserve the veneration we pay to the works of nature itself.”

View east from Waterloo Bridge @ Matt Perry, 2018

 

Such is the World City image that London has come to embody, a temporospatial montage in a mediatable static form. It is not concerned with architectural or social complexity, but with providing a manageable, flat render of London as an easily projected message for global audiences. It is an urban pastiche which, Gassner suggests, is politicised not by its ingredients, but more by:

“the form of wholeness it encapsulates… Reducing the cityscape to a singular skyline and conceptualising it as a compositional whole is a neoliberal approach in that it is based on the belief that one must govern not because of but for the market. This is a crucial point, because… the visual protection of St. Paul’s… has increasingly been turned into a planning tool that benefits the construction of speculative new towers.”

HOW ST. PAUL’S SHAPES THE CITY

St. Paul’s dominance with relation to the forms that have been built around it has resulted not just in its framing across views and sightlines; but in the actual shapes of recent London architecture. By having to conform to planning sightlines, architects design around regulatory instructions, making unique geometries that allow clear sightlines of the dome. Whereas iconic megaproject architecture typically dominates its space ―its form not bound to historic precedent or context (Sklair, 2012)― London’s montaged townscape and its deference to St. Paul’s have led to forms which are ―or are at least marketed as― related to its history and context.

The Leadenhall Building, aka The Cheesegrater, took its form by needing to protect cathedral views from Fleet Street (Moore, 2016, 316), while the Scalpel has geometric wedges chiseled from its hulk to satisfy cathedral views. Other architecture, away from the City cluster, still relates its narrative to St. Paul’s. The Shard, in London Bridge across the river, was said by its architect to “kiss” St. Paul’s when seen from the protected views at Hampstead Heath (Moore, 2016, 318).

“Frames and perspectives. To be ‘framed’… is to be forced into another’s structure, a structure that’s not of one’s own. To ‘get things into perspective’ is to make sense of the confusing, the impermanent, the uncertain, to fabricate, to make what is three-dimensional into a two-dimensional effigy. To frame is to exclude, to select, to synthesise” (Pugh, p. 33).

The Cheesegrater and St. Paul’s Cathedral @ British Land and Oxford Properties, 2019

 

THE PRIVATE CITY

If “Form Follows Power” (Kaika & Theielen, 2006), then the rapid surge and dominance of these forms showcases the effectiveness of the marketable picturesque. St. Paul’s classical dome is visually nested within glass, which Gassner suggests helps “abstract from commodification and financialisation processes by drawing our attention to a story of success” (2017, 763).

The naming of these buildings also relates to London’s marketable aesthetic. The Gherkin, for instance, was a nickname given to Foster’s phallic tower by the public and the media, but developers picked up on its power, and more recent nomenclature —the Cheesegrater, the Pinnacle, the Spiral — was inscribed in the design offer alongside realistic CGI images, to give a soft face to aggressively commercial projects. This cultural and linguistic framing runs parallel to the aesthetic contrivance of an atmosphere around the development to show it in a certain light even before permissions have been granted or construction starts (Kaika, 2011, 984-985).

Though Kim Dovey’s book Framing Places Kim considered Melbourne, his meaning translates to London and other World Cities when he says: “As the corporate towers have replaced our public symbols on the skyline, so the meaning and the life have been drained from public space” (1999, 187). Architecture that’s invested in its relationship to the image of the city in toto often loses detail and relationship with the individual, at its own scale and at street level. It tends towards an exclusionary approach to the urban that sees public space replaced by its impostor, in the guise of Privately Owned Public Spaces [POPS], in a “slow expropriation of the city” (Ibid.). The offer of new ‘public’ space has been folded into developer’s offers to be contributing to the community, in what are termed Section 106 agreements. This contribution may happen at ground level, as with Rogers’ Cheesegrater, where the tower is perched on piloti above a piazza acting primarily as a grand entrance for workers approaching the escalators. Increasingly, however, the ‘public’ space is at the top, providing vast panoramas of London that arguably serves tourists more than residents.

Rafael Viñoly Walkie Talkie building on Fenchurch Street went one step further. Its bulbous, glazed top floors ―a vast, tiered public garden and viewing platform― were advertised as “London’s tallest public park” ―though it was high, not tall; a garden, not a park, and private, not public. It features a planting scheme which can be read against Jacobs’ notion of imperial grandeur via neoliberal aesthetic, generously described by management as: “Tree ferns and fig trees recreate a lush prehistoric forest, whilst Mediterranean and South African flowers suggest a sinuous mountain ravine” (Sky Garden, 2018b). The result —after developers put in twice as many cafés as agreed, and built a corporate patio-with-planters feel rather than the Babylonian vision of the CGI renders — was felt by many to not quite reflect the offer.

Fenchurch Street Sky Garden, CGI v. Reality @ (l) RVAOC/20 Fenchurch Street, (r) The Guardian

 

The public does have access to Sky Garden, but only with online pre-booking for timed slots of an hour and photo ID required, lest they have a reservation at a restaurant. As is the case with the growing number of London POPS (Minton, 2012, loc. 1161), access comes with a long list of rules and regulations: management reserves the right to check your name across police databases and restrict access if you have a criminal record; you will pass an airport-like security check with restrictions on liquids; children under 16 must be with a ‘responsible adult’; and they will not be responsible for injuries in the event of nuclear disaster or war (Sky Garden, 2018a). Though you won’t be allowed to bring your own food or drink into this ‘public’ space, and may be removed if presumed to be under the influence of alcohol, there are five food and drink concessions squeezed in at the rooftop, where reservations can be made to enjoy wine from £9 a glass, £14 cocktails, a £19.50 beef burger or monkfish for £30.

The Walkie Talkie Interrupting protected sightlines @ The Architects’ Journal, 2016

 

The Walkie Talkie was only allowed to be constructed at all —in a location which did not merely interrupt protected sightlines, but also broke away from the cluster development model— based on this ‘public’ return exempting it from normal regulations. It has been suggested that another reason for its permitting was that City authorities wanted to extend the cluster southwards by opening up a huge new section of the city for potential redevelopment. Indeed, the gap between the Walkie Talkie and the City cluster now seems ripe for infilling, especially considering previous instances of allowing towers where there’s distance between others to be filled and create picturesque clustering. A planning officer has said, “what you want to do is fill in the missing tooth, because isolated buildings compete with St. Paul’s” (Gassner, 2017, 76).

This can be considered a landgrab of public space —with space including open-air and sightlines, as well as groundspace— by allowing the free-market to take ownership of it because their ‘public’ offer would trump the protections built into existing regulation. There is a precedent for this, again with Stirling’s No. 1 Poultry, the scheme of which included a circular drum form on the roof which blocked protected views of St. Paul’s along Cornhill, but which is described by HE as “…not just a view of St. Paul’s from afar… [but also] ideal to give a sense of London as the economic centre of the Empire as well as the spiritual and other-worldly sense of the Empire” (Jacobs, 2002, 50). With the cathedral in mind, the developer said that —though the drum would block protected views— it would echo the dome’s proportions “in absence”, with the roof garden offering never-before-seen vistas of the cathedral (Jacobs, 2002, 57). Said ‘public’ space is now a Coq d’Argent, with mains starting at £19.

View from the Coq d’Argent, No. 1 Poultry @eastlondongirl.com, 2019

 

ENVIRONMENTAL SPECTACLE

The Walkie Talkie and its deployment of ‘nature’ can be seen as part of a trend of planting and landscaping which evolved from nineties responses to climate change within the built environment. After the 1972 Stockholm Conference and the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme, notions of environmentalism were embedded into many sectors, including architecture, and this was further developed through Edward O. Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis, which suggested “that the urge to affiliate with other forms of life is to some degree innate”, and proposed a human approximation to this across all areas of living (Wilson, 1984, 85).

By the mid-nineties, this had developed not only into an industry and ideological design discourse, but resulted in new standards and charters on carbon neutrality and the development of symbiotic relationships between cities and nature (Herzog, 1996). This ecological and progressive approach to urban design is still present in many architectural and political sectors though, by the turn of the millennium, green had been absorbed into spectacle. Initiatives such as the Eden Project and the sensuous biophilic forms of Calatrava were becoming more spectacular, using ecological awareness as a marketing ploy rather than offering any built response to climate change. Schemes such as London’s Strata tower —with three wind turbines built into the peak of a block which would have otherwise not likely been permitted— were accepted. The turbines ran for three months before being turned off for good (it was suggested penthouse occupants complained of the noise). They have not rotated since, but remain a stain on the skyline, reminders of the folly of perverse green lies.


The Strata Tower @ Getty Images, 2016

 

It was also in this period, between 1997 and 2000, that the London 2012 Olympic bid was being prepared; a regeneration project using media-friendly greening and biophilic language as part of its “legacy” offer. In 2005’s submission bid, it was stated the project would “contribute to a model for environmental sustainability applicable to cities in both the developed and developing worlds” (London 2012 Ltd., 2005, 23). However, its green credentials have been criticised (Minton, 2012, loc. 38-491; James, 2018, 247-260) as an aesthetic to facilitate neoliberal development in a manner not dissimilar to how City projects have availed themselves of ecology, nationalism and privatised spaces to smooth the passage of planning.

“Some of those claims were of course true, but they also functioned to mask the more determining capitalist and jingoistic imperatives for the Park. The Games were inexorably tied to enormous capital investment, and to the failure or success of a nation. The flourishing grasslands, riverbanks, and nesting holes for sand martins were at the same time window dressing for a nationalist regeneration machine that would succeed at all costs” (James, 298).

The Olympics can be seen as a vast and costly conflation of environmental appearances to service neoliberal urban development, using nationalism and ideological positioning to support and defend it from criticism. Emma Street (2014, 67) highlights how, since the recession of 2008, and “in a context of deepening ecological and economic scarcity, the [government] calls for the contribution the natural environment makes to quality of life and economic success to be quantified in economic terms: ‘valuing nature properly holds the key to a green and growing economy’.” Ten years on, the financial climate has not structurally changed and, if we live in “an economic world constituted from gargantuan amounts of public and private debt that is sustained by the policy machinations of central banks” (Thompson, 2017) —which means we are effectively still in the 2008 crash, if not heading towards a repeat— then London’s architecture and World City image belie the truth of climate and financial breakdown.

Likewise, if we are in a more precarious ecological global state now than in the nineties, ‘green’ architecture now conveys an image of recovery more than any real, rooted crisis response. The representation of financial and imperial power in architecture can be likened to representations of environmental ‘improvement’, such as the Walkie Talkie, urban planting schemes and biophilic mimicry. As David Harvey says, “far too much of what passes for ecologically sensitive in the fields of architecture, urban planning and urban theory amounts to little more than a concession to trendiness and to that bourgeois aesthetic that likes to enhance the urban with a bit of green, a dash of water, and a glimpse of sky” (2001, 42).

The deployment of nature in such urban contexts can also be read as a softening of the harsh, authoritarian architectures, materials and ideological systems of the neoliberal period. Adding a “lush prehistoric forest” —or at least the aura of it— to a scheme can ameliorate it in the eyes of planners ―while aiding the World City image of London.

In the 2016 London Plan, the word ‘sustainable’ is used in relation to the following: ecology, social, economics, water, population growth, development, drainage, quality of life, business opportunities, innovation, creativity, health, education, research, culture, art, regional and local success, regeneration, lifestyles, retail, access to goods, travel, communities, neighbourhoods, environment, residential quality, design and construction, distribution, electricity, gas, materials procurement, construction, retrofitting, waste management, spatial development, and use of World Heritage Sites. In short, it can be applied to every element of citymaking and, as such, it is an easily adjustable term in the marketing and presentation of developers who want a buzzword that can mean anything and very little. Nature, sustainability, ‘green’ and suggestions of ecological concern are now seamlessly folded into the development package not just as an add-on, but as a function of smooth delivery and image making (Konijnendijk, 2010).

“Although the rhetoric has changed and new concepts like “sustainability” have become fashionable, the deep anti-urban sentiment combined with an idealised and romanticised invocation of a “superior” natural order has rarely been so loud. Much of these debates about restoring a more environmentally sound urban fabric ignore the very foundations on which the contemporary urbanisation process rests” (Kaika & Swyngedouw, 570).


To be continued…


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Will Jennings is a London-based visual artist and writer with particular interest in the built environment and how it relates to wider culture, histories, politics and social concerns. He has a Research Masters in Architecture from the University of East London.