Sunday, July 5, 2009


Courtesy Owen Hatherley at Sit Down Man You're A Bloody Tragedy, a terrific post on the Beech Street underpass at the Barbican on Will Wiles' Spillway.

There's also a personal meaning to the place for me. I have very early memories of being driven through Beech Street, and it had a powerful effect on me. For me, it screamed modernity, the first pioneering signs of a new city. It was strangely comforting - the warm orange glow of the sodium light, the rhythm of the coloured panels, the streaming lights, like the Enterprise going into warp speed. It was a snapshot of a city that had passed the period of even partial coexistence with the landscape, and was now a total structure - a cityscape. It still means to me a kind of density watershed, a Change of State in the city fabric like melting or sublimation.
(What I really want to know, obviously, is where WW found his template among the sad selection on offer at Blogger.)

Hatherley, meanwhile, has more, much more to say on walkways:

Critics and consumers alike seem to will any attempt to elevate everyday life to failure, anything that lifts us off away from the proximity of a coffee concession being some sort of mockery of the neoliberal city. Whether its the demolished walkways of innumerable council estates (usually for 'security' reasons, though it's moot whether they lead to endemic crime at the Barbican) to the imminent demise of Sheffield's multi-level tat extravaganza Castle Market (wonderfully, Sheffield City Council once planned to throw walkways over the whole Sheaf Valley), the attempt to create a pedestrian city that doesn't stay at a base level has become unpopular just at the point where it would seem most relevant, where it would make a (holds breath) sustainable urbanism something invigoratingly modern rather than tweedily conservative. It has been relatively intriguing, in the arid world of oligarchitecture, to see the reaction to Steven Holl's Beijing Linked Hybrid - not because it looks like it'll be a formally interesting building in itself, but because here the walkway has come back, and this seems to many critics to be an unforgivable urban faux pas.
More Hatherley here. Spillway link here, again, for the slothful.

1 comment:

aj bailey said...

hi -

'view source' there gives:

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