An appeal to stop building altogether

[We believe that all new buildings are bad and ugly for the simple reason that they are new...]


Yet another useless building

Tower Bridge was build in the past century to create a crossing point on the Thames south of London Bridge. It was expensively and ambitiously provided with an opening sections and pedestrian walkways (high between the two towers). With the almost contemporary shift of all maritime traffic further down river to the new docks in the Isle of Dogs, the bridge was totally useless even before its completion and it has stood ever since as a cheesy tourist attraction and a monument to Victorian imbecility. The lesson was never learned though, and buildings as useless as they were new have polluted the rest of London ever since, culminating in a Millennium Dome, masterpiece of waste.


"...new buildings should be torn down according to popular demand of local residents"

Buildings in a society regulated (=torn) by capitalist forces are nothing more than a pile of clay, concrete and metal thrown together and arranged to the fancy of a few men. Imposed from above onto the rest of us who have to live with them everyday, they are cold and oppressive. Coupled with motor traffic and the amount of space dedicated to this (90% of every road, motorways, flyovers, car parks) they are the main responsible for the appalling conditions our cities are in.

There is more to a building that inanimate material. There are feelings, emotions and memories attached to it by the people who live in and around it. Years of those emotions build up to form each person mental image of a particular place. The sum of those images forms a collective mental picture of the town*. The growth of new structures in a short amount of time, has a devastating effect on this mental picture. We noticed this while collecting mental maps from elderly people in particular*, who felt displaced and uneasy in a town that has changed completely during their life span.

All buildings were once new. But they used to take their time to create. St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome is an imposing sight, but it took a few generations to build, people living around it had the time to adjust to the change, it grew with them, not overnight. In recent times, with the introduction of modern building techniques, cities have been transformed in too short a time. Not to mention a ridiculous growth in vertical space and now a projected expansion underground, which is what architects are working on nowadays.

Some places emanate strong forces which possibly go beyond the building itself, like churches built on sites of old temples build on leylines crossing point. Regardless of their geographical location, though, a building carries a particular feeling according to its history. No history = no feeling, hence the sense of coldness and anonymity emanated by all new constructions.

There are already too many buildings around anyway, we should start thinking about demolishing, not building some more. Conversion should be the only way of putting an old space to new use. Nothing can beat the feeling of using a place that was once something else.

This is why we believe that:
1. New constructions should be immediately stopped.
2. Recent new buildings should be torn down according to popular demand of local residents, who should be given total administration onto a local area.
3. Architects should be working on conversions only, and where this is of a residential nature, be forced to live in their creation.
4. Only by giving total power to small communities can the organic development of a city be implemented.
5. A city grown in an organic way (i.e. guided by local needs) is a fundamental requisite for the creation of a psycogeographically positive environment, opening ourselves and our cities up to the possibility of experiencing higher moments of life.

NOTES:
Basic theory and example of mental maps can be found HERE. Also see:
1. Mental Maps by Peter Gould and Rodney White, Penguin Books, 1974.
2. The image of the city by Kevin Linch, M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1960.



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