Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Degrees of Luxury plc

This from today's Guardian.

"Once upon a time, students lived in the cheapest and grottiest shared houses a city had to offer. First-year students had it even worse, traditionally confined to bog-standard, barrack-like halls of residence tucked away on the edge of campus."

Link to the article here.

Meanwhile, not to be left behind ...

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Like buses, two come along at once. Hard on the heels of Will Self – hitting out at the spread of 'corporate occupation of public space' – comes this from Simon Jenkins. I rarely, if at all, agree with these two but Jenkins makes for my second revision of an opinion inside a month.

He sounds out against the idea that sprawl is the answer to the 'housing crisis', that ever popular shortage by design that keeps property prices and lending high.

Read more.

Meanwhile, all around Newcastle brownfield sites are shunned for the premium available to builders for bricking over the Green Belt. Unless they are whacking up flats for students. More are on the way and sites that were once thought unsuitable for social housing have had money thrown at them by ... yes, who exactly?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Making everything nice ... Part Two

Imagine what the world would look like if it were planned by a single mind. Milton Keynes would be my response. The greater part of the pleasure of being a stroller through a city is the constant contrast, the layered nature of buildings, sudden contradictions and complexity; what one might call 'experience'. None of this is apparent in Milton Keynes, a made to measure new town styled by people for whom living is a constant act of forgetting, like goldfish. But it would be senseless to maintain this absence of what makes city dwelling have some scope for imagination – or a range of responses at all – is not 'what people want'. Many apparently do like ersatz stonework, fake gardening, stainless steel 'street furniture', plate glass vistas and homely multinational corporation Disney-fied nice. Thankfully, some do not.

Previously I wrote that I had read some promising news about those who are resisting the wiping away of every inconvenience or non-corporate worthy (e.g. aged, cracked. eccentric, uncontrolled happenstance) urban space spectacle. I hope this becomes a proper movement, a sort of architectural and shared space version of 'Occupy'. It may happen. As Corporatism spreads, driven by the sense that money and power equals an unstoppable dictatorship endorsed by a lazy, discredited tax system, more of the informal spaces of our cities will drive out those features of urban culture on the fringes that cities have celebrated down the 19th & 20th centuries as effectively as rent increases.

What will be left? Take a glimpse at the future ... (off site link to slideshow)