Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Languagehat
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Londonist
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Teblog
Techdirt
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Drones
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Getting old
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Other creatures
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Scaffolding
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Thursday September 04 2008

I just came across a piece by Alice the Architect (a recent discovery for me) about an attempt to make Robin Hood Gardens ...

image

... a listed building.  Alice the Architect describes how such things were built, then fasts forward to now:

The British weather is not kind to concrete, and it is stained with dark streaks from rain and dirt. Bits are beginning to deteriorate and the wet is getting to the reinforcement, blowing off the concrete cover, causing more damage. The gardens, maintained for only a couple of years by the council before the budget was spent on Diversity Awareness Officers, are now havens for fly tippers, perverts and gangs of hoodies. The dark, graffitted corridors and stairwells stink of wee, and shifty looking men and youths push drugs, knives and guns. The windows leak and the place is impossible to heat effectively. The lifts are never working, and the young mother has to pull her child’s buggy, shopping and baby up five floors - she daren’t leave something behind for another trip as it will be stolen the minute she turns her back. Most of the front doors have bars across them. The streets in the sky are great for yobs to throw things at the neighbours, the police, the ambulance staff, the postman and whoever else is trying to carry out their normal business.

The very form of such buildings does not exactly encourage crime, as it is people, not architecture, who perpetrate it, but the design does make it a lot easier for those whose main mission in life is to make things miserable for others, or who think of nothing but their next fix and their next miserable little petty crime.

That was posted in early June, but I doubt things have changed that much since then.

For further thoughts from Alice the Architect on the complex relationship between architecture and human behaviour, see also this earlier posting, which ends on this unhappy note:

Whatever you do, whatever they are given, some people are just dirty, lazy, apathetic and disgusting.

I think the key variable is whether the monsters find it easy to monsterfy the entire place, or whether the place puts (or at least helps to put) the monsters on the defensive.

My home is a bit mosterish.  Certainly very dusty.  But, there’s no way my bad cleaning habits will spread to my neighbours, unless they’re monsters too.

Horrid, horrid, horrid. And my namesake in the comments there defending these monstrosities! They look like they should have been dropped in some god forsaken steel town in Czechoslovakia rather than London or Sheffield. (Not knowing where Robin Hood Gardens was I assumed it was the similar place in Sheffield but apparently that’s called Park Hill.)

Ian Fleming had these crazy modernist architects’ number when he named one of his villains after one of their leading lights: Ernő Goldfinger.

Posted by Blognor Regis on 05 September 2008

Brian, have you considered that your neighbours’ (lack of) cleaning habits may have spread to you?

Blognor Regis: Indeed. RHG is in London, but it reminds me very much of the Park Hill flats, which was one of three such monstrosities in Sheffield, the others being Hyde Park and Kelvin: http://www.freewebs.com/lifeonkelvinflats/index.htm

All were built with the same “Streets in the Sky” idealism. All succumbed to the same fate Alice describes. That said, it wasn’t everyone that was “dirty, lazy, apathetic and disgusting” - I know a lot of decent people that came from those areas.

Posted by 6000 on 05 September 2008

I went to a party there in the 1980s. Nice party, but at the back of my mind I was afraid of the long walk back to the car when the party ended.

Nothing happened, car was still there, but even though I’d never heard of the place before it had an air of menace that reached right through the curtains.

Time to dig out my copy of a book by another Alice - Alice Coleman’s “Utopia on Trial: Vision and Reality in Planned Housing.” She had good practical suggestions for making places harder to monsterfy. Not all of them involved dynamite.

Posted by Natalie Solent on 05 September 2008

The former Warsaw pact countries are full of housing estates that look like this. However, although some are worrying slums, most of them are simply full of perfectly decent people who have no other housing choices. These estates look sinister from a distance (particularly if you have British derived ideas about the sinister qualities of such estates) but if you actually walk into them you find there is no sense of menace whatsoever. Plus, there is a lot more commerce going on in them than in the British equivalents. There are often little bars and convenience stores in the basements, plus markets selling fruit and vegetables and flowers outside between the buildings, and stuff like that.

This leads to the unremarkable point that this kind of architecture may lead to crime ridden slums but does not have to. I think the existence of the welfare state is probably a bigger factor. (Of course, the creation of these buildings is not unrelated to the welfare state).

Posted by Michael Jennings on 05 September 2008

I think they’re horrid because they’re inhuman. I read one of those essays 6000 pointed to, the one about Kelvin flats, and the authors main complaint is the lack of control over one’s life when living there.

As for commerce, MJ, as I’m sure you know, most British residential streets used to have shops strewn throughout. With bugger all regulation to speak of, planning permission and zoning, anyone could open a shop in their terrace house’s front room. My great-great aunt did. 1920s women had to do a lot for themselves.

Posted by Blognor Regis on 07 September 2008
Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.