Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pigeon free Milton Keynes

I visited Milton Keynes this year and saw the future. It reminded me of a saying of Kirkegaard's that thoughtful revolutionaries leave everything as it is but empty it of significance. It's not that Milton Keynes is dull; it insists upon it. Nowhere I have ever been lacks character. Everywhere has a 'character'; it's unavoidable. The character Milton Keynes has is similar to that of a modern bus shelter. There is not a lot more to it than what one can see at a glance and mostly it's the incidental and appliqué that stands out and provides further interest, if at all. In 'MK' its just there isn't any of the incidental. It isn't allowed. Sitting in one of the several restaurant chains that are only culinary delight of MK and watching the sun set I noticed something odd. There were no pigeons.

These thoughts come via an article from the BBC web site on post war planning in the UK, particularly the 'new towns' built to address the housing needs of a country that had seen no public investment in wartime and lost three quarters of a million homes to bombing.

"People actually didn't like their lives being reorganised in this way," says Hebbert. It was seen as paternalistic, "a top-down manoeuvring of people's lives which the free British citizen became increasingly unhappy with".

"You kind of go from visions of utopia to critiques of subtopia" adds Clapson, citing architecture critic Ian Nairn's term for unsightly, sprawling suburban development. – Tom Heyden

Today an ever expanding UK (particularly, southern England) population has created pressure to 're-evaluate' the new town concept. It reads as if some people, faced with a dilemma that cannot be squared (population expansion, limited land and intense opposition to building on green field) are trying to see the good side in a movement that succeeded in housing thousands of people but became rapidly synonymous with the breakdown of cohesion and compassion.

The article can be read here online.

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