dialogue #04 ‘visions and flaws of society’

The politics of laying a carpet

Realizing any act of transformation necessarily implies an aligning of interests, where the various agendas of those involved are respected and challenged. In this case, an urban carpet is diagrammatically envisaged within the fly-over view of a new development that will soon be constructed by property company Quintain in Wembley Park, London. The carpet challenges the corporate aesthetic of public spaces living in the shadow of the iconic Wembley Stadium, whilst attempting to bring a softness to the area based on the intricacy, delicacy and intensity of a Persian carpet. The project will be developed over the course of the dialogues and addresses the neglect of the ground surface during the modernist period, whilst attempting to rethink public space within a time of global, neo-liberal construction.

Tone: Critical but acknowledging the flaws of society and trying to work with systems to make things better, rather than against them.

25.01.2018 Rotterdam

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The city on the podium

The Barbican is perhaps the pinnacle of the mechanics of a new perception of society communicated through the design of council housing in Britain. It grew out of a post-war moment of humanitarian thinking that the ‘human’ should be placed above the ‘machinic’ (the car and the tube). Therefore, architecture and planning should channel development towards this vision of transformation into a better society. This new breed of development, initiated by the New Barbican, succumbed to an aspiration that was equally committed to pedestrianization as to the generous provision for car-ownership. The New Barbican Committee’s campaign for planning permission in 1954 had to be sophisticated and convincing. This image combines section and perspective drawn elaborately by the architects, to illustrate the transition from the traditional flat layout of the city to the segregation of vehicles and pedestrians in the face of the ‘motor-car revolution’. The Barbican was representative of a new, more radical way to achieve segregation, in that it placed all the living functions of a city on a six-meter high ‘podium’ above traffic, garages and servicing. The drawings convey the optimism of the time that the dedication of urban planning to elevate the City onto podia, pilotis and towers would transform it from “a Dickensian duckling into a new Elizabethan Swan.”

The image is a re-edition of a Barbican section and perspective view by the author, 2018.

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