Friday, 16 September 2011


Mainstream press is fickle. Articles on the riots appear less frequent, replaced by Libya, the Wests current foreign invasion. Replaced by the mess that is the European economy. And, most recently, replaced by the annual scaremongering that is 9/11.I rode the tube, last week, to attend a talk entitled Social Media Riots and the City.

Like the professionals they are, architects, aware of their past failures, posed solutions to enable themselves to survive as a profession. These are people that design schools while erecting million pound apartments. Who displace whole communities, while offering shiney 'affordable' housing - affordable, only as a by-product of the expensive flats located in the adjacent block, surrounded by a fence and cctv. All work which goes to highlight the disparity between the haves and the have nots.
Regeneration (Gentrification) of Keeling House, E2. Above, 1958. Below, Today - with a fence.

Dwelling on what was said by men with public school accents is a pointless task. History will repeat its self, they will re-invent the wheel, and regeneration (gentrification) will spurn its ugly head again.

Whilst trying to muster the energy to leave my bed for the 8:30 start, I considered hitting snooze and fucking it off, the title providing me an excuse - Social Media Riots and the City. What about Riots and the City? An attempt to lay blame at the door of twitter? I was reminded of a project by Lebbeus Woods.
Set in Croatia, Wood's project “Zagreb Free-zone” proposes spaces joined by an electronic web of instrumentation. Inhabitation of these spaces would result in “ever-changing interactions among people, a community utilizing unlimited free access to communications," and "to other, more esoteric, networks at present reserved for the major institutions of government and commerce." 

So... powerful communication devices with the ability to commandeer other electrical devices, access knowledge and circumvent the state. Think twitter, hacking, Wikipedia. These machines exist, the difference being we don't occupy them, they exist as electronic appendages, carried in our Eastpacks and pockets.
Supposedly, the time of premature knee jerk reactions to the riots is in its dying days and now the real dissection of the route cause is supposedly beginning. But, the same people who fucked up the world are deciding the future. Like the energy companies, who done much to pillage the worlds resources, turning their logo green and selling us renewables.

“They hired our parents to destroy the world, and now they'd like to put us to work rebuilding it, and – to add insult to injury – at a profit”

Homelessness, today, has risen 17%. We're confronted with a housing benefit cap that will push families to the periphery, while our inner city estates are neglected until they're torn down, making way for new “mixed” development, displacing the community.

During the Q&A, the woman next to me from Architecture for Humanity, asked why there is such a lack of engagement from planners/developers with those at the bottom of society. No straight answer given. The answer is money. There is no short term economic return in providing housing for the poor. They cant pay. The developers don't get paid, and so neither do the architects. No meaningful solution will stem from architects until that situation changes. Creativity is stifled.

If any valuable planning solutions are to come about, the decision makers at the top must engage with those at the bottom. Social housing must become profitable, or minimum be deemed of value by the state. A sly dream.



Spellman said...

Real talk.

Anonymous said...

watermarked stamped certified real talk @timothyshola

PRINCE said...

Good piece