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« Art Critics -- What Are They Like? | Main | Free Reads -- Digital Movie Theaters »

December 05, 2002

Continuing Ed -- Architecture Critique

Friedrich --

A game. Guess the political orientation of the British architecture critic who wrote the following:

We all like old towns and villages with the continuous street facade and its comfortable sense of enclosure. It was not the perversity of architects that made it impossible in new residential areas to have the same quality, but the fact that the environment in Britain is over-regulated by every kind of authority ...

As for the opinions of residents: the most-loved and the least-lovely housing I have ever visited in a New Town were at Runcorn. The least-loved was designed by a world-famous architect, Jim Stirling, the most-loved was by the anonymous architectural staff of the Runcorn Development Corporation.

Hmmm. OK, what's your guess? A libertarian? A Prince-of-Wales conservative?

Wrong. It's a passage from Talking to Architects, a fab book of lectures on towns and buildings by the British anarchist Colin Ward. I'll repeat that: he's an anarchist.

Ward, several of whose books I've read, is a brainy guy with a humane and rumpled soul. And isn't it interesting how his observations about conventional architectural processes come so close to those of such people as Jane Jacobs and Leon Krier?

Maybe they're all onto something.

The book can be bought here.

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at December 5, 2002




Comments

Good call. I too am an admirer of Ward, though I think his differences with Jacobs are interesting (he's keen on the whole Ebenezer Howard/Garden Cities thing). He's a funny kind of anarchist, though: not "smash the state", but ignore the state and get on with building your own co-operative networks. The range and eclecticism of his work is startling: education, a history of the holiday camp, anarchist theory, cathedrals, architecture and planning and his wonderfully illustrated The Child in the City.

Posted by: Chris Bertram on December 6, 2002 6:29 AM



Good call. I too am an admirer of Ward, though I think his differences with Jacobs are interesting (he's keen on the whole Ebenezer Howard/Garden Cities thing). He's a funny kind of anarchist, though: not "smash the state", but ignore the state and get on with building your own co-operative networks. The range and eclecticism of his work is startling: education, a history of the holiday camp, anarchist theory, cathedrals, architecture and planning and his wonderfully illustrated The Child in the City.

Posted by: Chris Bertram on December 6, 2002 6:29 AM






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