RESEARCH – (Re-)Building Consensus
Over the years a number of writers have tried to drill down to what makes a building people-friendly or liveable; a structure that embeds community; a public space that is inviting, well laid-out and interesting.
For every council, architect or planning scheme there seem to be more failures than successes – the projects are created upon the foundation of hierarchical ideas or academic distancing – such that the people who then come to be live and exist in these spaces are basically ants in a test tube experiment – if it doesn’t work – fuck it – you can throw them away and start again somewhere else.
The democracy of constructing the urban environment often strikes me as oxymoronic – I couldn’t build a jigsaw model – let alone reconstruct a town after ariel bombardment towards the future of modernisation. But that’s what the builders, councillors and planners of Coventry faced; by way of creating the “best times of our lives” that the 50s optimism demanded – a tall order indeed.
Big Ideas, Bigger Dreams
I recently found a relatively recent book from the 1970s, A Broken Wave (take that H. S. T.) – a book that explores the post-war consensus to try and build a better world in all things. Lofty, a perhaps impossible venture – as the book’s title suggests – but definitely worth aiming for.
To what extent Coventry ringroad shot for this is unclear – it’s a divisive structure at the best of times – but it fulfils a unique function in a rather unique city – and that was the great ideal and spirit behind A Broken Wave – everyone was trying to build a better world – often in spite of the world itself.
No matter the size, wealth or reputation of a place – it is always important to dream big.