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<nettime> Everybody & his dog on the London riots (The Architects' Journ
Patrice Riemens on Thu, 11 Aug 2011 21:03:59 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Everybody & his dog on the London riots (The Architects' Journal)


bwo INURA list

original to:  http://bit.ly/ppNoV5  (The Architects' Journal/ AJ)
many comments on site

Riots updated: Sennett, Rykwert, Till, de Botton, Tavernor and more on why
Britain is burning

10 August, 2011 | By Christine Murray

The AJ asks prominent architectural thinkers to comment on the
architecture of our cities. More comments added daily.

Joseph Rykwert

Cities incite riots - and herding people in high rise reservoirs of social
aggression doesn?t help: if we didn?t have football and rugby matches to
release it, however messily, we?d have many more, though riots are almost
always triggered by specific incidents. Current hoody anomie was fostered
by the spectacle of the fat-cats bloated bonuses accompanying  the ?we?re
all in it? talk about cuts - as well as by the knowledge that the police
was among the public services to be mutilated (which also goes for parks,
youth centres), so was inevitably demoralised. And the spark was a
mishandled police shooting. Locking up cowed hoodies in overcrowded
prisons won?t solve anything. We need to think about public housing and
public space - quickly

Richard Sennett

The riots were all too predictable: a generation of poor, young people
with no future becomes a tinderbox for violence.  The British riots have
one resemblance to those which afflicted France in the last decade; they
occur in the places where no-hopers live, rather than political riots
directed at the centres of power; the result is that the principle victims
are their local neighbours

Jeremy Till

At least the architects are not blamed this time, as we were with
Broadwater. Nor could we be, because (quoting Simmel) the city is not a
spatial entity with sociological consequences, but a sociological entity
that is formed spatially. Here the riots spatialise years of ramping up of
social inequality. So when my Twitter feed calls for the reintroduction of
Jane Jacobs, I blanch (because space is not the solution, just the
symptom) and when the Tories say it is ?pure? criminality, I rage (because
of the implicit disavowal of their political responsibility). One way out?
Act on the New Economic Foundation?s Great Transition

Alain de Botton

People tend to distinguish between violence against people (very serious)
and violence against property (not so bad). But in these riots, what
emerges is how offensive it is to see buildings on fire because this
symbolises a destruction of the hopes and efforts of so many who struggled
to build and maintain them. It isn?t just money that goes up in flames;
it?s the spirit of civilisation

Robert Tavernor

The London riots are a sobering reminder that cities are for people, that
people make cities. Cities rely on a precarious social balance that can be
wrecked by the irresponsible. Leadership and good action are now essential

Irena Bauman

I already talked about this before it happened. I?ve made many comments
about the wealth divide within cities and how it is impacting on physical
and social geographies and increases fear and violence. We will see much
more of this kind of unrest in the future. No amount of regeneration
funding will help. We need to change the core values of our society and
redistribute wealth, if a long term solution is to be found.

William JR Curtis

London has been up for sale to the highest bidders in the international
plutocracy for years and the results are there to see in the Shard and all
the other grotesque signs of exaggerated wealth that are in fact
impoverishing the public realm for everybody else. Worse than that,
British politicians of both Left and Right have sold their souls and their
policies to the City of London and therefore to the vagaries of
international financial capitalism which has no loyalties and no sense of
local responsibility. All the eyewash of Cameron?s so called Big Society
cannot disguise the fact that the bottom end of society has been
abondoned: Is one surprised that one kind of violence is responding to
another kind? No, not really.

Wouter Vanstiphout

The reality of urban riots is that they have always turned out to be the
opposite of a learning experience for a city. Riots have nearly always
resulted in politicians simplifying the problem even more, and looking
away even further. After a riot your average city will become more afraid,
more authoritarian, more segregated, more exclusive and less tolerant.
That is the real tragedy of the post-war western urban riot, first it
shocks and terrifies us, then for a moment it makes us see flashes of the
kind of city we should be working towards, which then fades away into the
darkness.

Yasmin Shariff

Regeneration schemes have made a difference where they have offered an
opportunity to the under privileged, but these projects should not be
confused with developments that displace the urban poor. Riots in new
regeneration areas point to the schism where ordinary people cannot afford
the new people?s palaces - the £160m regeneration in Dalston by Barratt
Homes for instance boasts residents gym, 24hr concierge, buzzing public
square, shops a library and a 2 bed apartments will set you back £350K . 
It can be little surprise that these regeneration areas are being torched.
As long as these kids are trapped in the poverty of their circumstance
riots such as the ones we have seen will continue to erupt. What we are
experiencing are the consequence of policies which pander to big business
and line the pockets of bankers, developers, PFI companies and other
private organisations at the expense of the public purse.

Marianne Mueller

Our practice is involved in the design review assessment of regeneration
schemes. You can?t deny the strong commercial focus of recent regeneration
projects that push out other (in the short term, less profitable)
functions. Spaces for young people and public facilities in general
(nurseries, libraries, green open spaces?) are definitely not a focus in
the schemes we have been reviewing over the last few years. Projects like
?Youth Space? by MADE remain a rarity - especially with the recent cuts -
where young people can get actively involved in the design of their
environment, develop a sense of ownership and simply have a place to be.
To quote the opening of the publication of the Youth Space project
documentation, ?Of all those excluded from any given urban territory,
youth surely form the greatest subset. They are excluded on the grounds
that they are not yet adults, that they cannot pay, that they are trouble
makers, that they will break the law, be noisy, or frighten other
customers away.?


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