Tuesday, 3 December 2013

"The city would then say, has a right to say: if you don't like it, then Sod Off."

1971.  A plan for a new city of a million people, to be built in and on an enormous disused quarry near Nuneaton in the Midlands, almost exactly half way between Birmingham and Leicester; using the great mounds of waste material as artificial hills, providing drama and a nice view over the countryside to the east.

A collaborative effort but it's mostly credited to Ivor de Wolfe (misprinted within as de Wofle), which was the pen name of Hubert de Cronin Hastings, the sometime editor of Architectural Review.

It's *really* an excuse for a diatribe against the town planning orthodoxy of the time - ie de-centralisation & de-congestion - which the authors' blame for their chief hate: suburban sprawl.  The post-war New Towns get a good kicking.

If you're familiar with Ian Nairn's "Outrage" and "Counter Attack" then you'll know what sort of thing to expect here; in fact, this feels like it completes a trilogy. The central message is the same: keep City, Town and Countryside separate and distinct from one another.

Nairn himself provides a foreward, and de Wolfe's style is similar - a mix of "now look here, really, I mean, come on now" and flip snarkiness.

Interestingly, Paolo Soleri and his then recent publication City in the Image of Man get 2 or 3 mentions, the first a slightly bitchy comment on the sheer size of the book, but later ones acknowledging the similarity of his philosophy to theirs (ie: it's a crime to waste precious space).

There are some great photo collages which I'll bung up in due course etc (ie probably never).

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