Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

January 29 2014

Four short links: 29 January 2014

  1. Bounce Explorer — throwable sensor (video, CO2, etc) for first responders.
  2. Sintering Patent Expires Today — key patent expires, though there are others in the field. Sintering is where the printer fuses powder with a laser, which produces smooth surfaces and works for ceramics and other materials beyond plastic. Hope is that sintering printers will see same massive growth that FDM (current tech) printers saw after the FDM patent expired 5 years ago.
  3. Internet is the Greatest Legal Facilitator of Inequality in Human History (The Atlantic) — hyperbole aside, this piece does a good job of outlining “why they hate us” and what the systemic challenges are.
  4. First Carbon Fiber 3D Printer Announced — $5000 price tag. Nice!

November 08 2013

Giant Cruise Ships to be Banned from Venice Beginning Next Year | Italy Magazine

Giant Cruise Ships to be Banned from Venice Beginning Next Year | Italy Magazine
http://www.italymagazine.com/news/giant-cruise-ships-be-banned-venice-beginning-next-year
http://www.italymagazine.com/sites/default/files/styles/313xauto/public/story/navi.jpg?itok=FGZUl6Tq

Large cruise ships passing through the Venice lagoon are to be banned effective November 2014, and a limit on smaller cruise vessels will kick in January, government officials in Rome ordered on Tuesday.
The order came following a meeting between Italy’s Prime Minister Enrico Letta, his transport and culture ministers and Venice city officials and regional authorities, discussing how to implement in Venice a law that bans large ships from passing near Italian shores. The law was enacted nationwide following the crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in early 2012, which killed 32 people off the coast of Tuscany, but was not applied in Venice where the cruise industry plays a key role in the local economy.
As of January, the traffic volume of cruise ships weighing between 40,000 and 96,000 tonnes must be reduced to no more than five ships per day. The outright ban starting November 2014 only applies to those over 96,000 tonnes (similar to the Costa Concordia).
According to the order, cruise traffic will eventually be rerouted through the Contorta Sant’Angelo Canal. Environmentalists warn that the lagoon surrounding Venice, itself a UNESCO heritage site, is at great risk due to its fragile ecosystem and Venice residents have staged many protests over the invasion of the cruise ships. Currently, cruise ships pass within 300 metres (1,000 feet) of St Mark’s Square. Over the past 15 years, Venice has become one of the world’s most important cruise destinations, with more than 650 cruise ships passing through the city annually.
“Finally the trend towards gigantic ships in the lagoon has been turned around,” the mayor of Venice, Giorgio Orsoni, said in a statement on Tuesday. “We’ve had enough of these mega cruise ships just meters away from San Marco; from now on there will be clear limits on the size of ships that can enter Venice.”

#society
#travel
#Venice
#Large-cruise-ships

July 29 2013

June 07 2013

Four short links: 7 June 2013

  1. Accumulo — NSA’s BigTable implementation, released as an Apache project.
  2. How the Robots Lost (Business Week) — the decline of high-frequency trading profits (basically, markets worked and imbalances in speed and knowledge have been corrected). Notable for the regulators getting access to the technology that the traders had: Last fall the SEC said it would pay Tradeworx, a high-frequency trading firm, $2.5 million to use its data collection system as the basic platform for a new surveillance operation. Code-named Midas (Market Information Data Analytics System), it scours the market for data from all 13 public exchanges. Midas went live in February. The SEC can now detect anomalous situations in the market, such as a trader spamming an exchange with thousands of fake orders, before they show up on blogs like Nanex and ZeroHedge. If Midas sees something odd, Berman’s team can look at trading data on a deeper level, millisecond by millisecond.
  3. PRISM: Surprised? (Danny O’Brien) — I really don’t agree with the people who think “We don’t have the collective will”, as though there’s some magical way things got done in the past when everyone was in accord and surprised all the time. It’s always hard work to change the world. Endless, dull hard work. Ten years later, when you’ve freed the slaves or beat the Nazis everyone is like “WHY CAN’T IT BE AS EASY TO CHANGE THIS AS THAT WAS, BACK IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS. I GUESS WE’RE ALL JUST SHEEPLE THESE DAYS.”
  4. What We Don’t Know About Spying on Citizens is Scarier Than What We Do Know (Bruce Schneier) — The U.S. government is on a secrecy binge. It overclassifies more information than ever. And we learn, again and again, that our government regularly classifies things not because they need to be secret, but because their release would be embarrassing. Open source BigTable implementation: free. Data gathering operation around it: $20M/year. Irony in having the extent of authoritarian Big Brother government secrecy questioned just as a whistleblower’s military trial is held “off the record”: priceless.

April 05 2013

Magic

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
– Arthur C. Clarke

I spent Wednesday at Penn Medicine’s Connected Health event in Philadelphia. We saw an array of technologies that wouldn’t even have been imaginable when I came into this world. Mobile telepresence systems, tele surgery, the ability to remotely detect depression with merely a phone and its analysis, real-time remote glucose monitoring, and on and on.

But nothing in technology surprises me anymore. I have Meh’monia, a condition wherein all of the magic and surprise has been drained out of technology, probably by Apple. Today I expect anything that can be imagined to be possible, available, and to be executed beautifully.

A tiny but powerful computer in my pocket with greater than VGA screen resolution? Meh. Glasses with interactive heads up display? I’ll take the designer version. Hall-roaming robots that bring me my meds and let me make video calls to my family? I saw that on the Jetsons.

On my way home I dropped in at the Penn Museum and spent an hour roaming the collection. Two days later the magic I’m still thinking about is the magic in those galleries. Atoms arranged with human intellect (and vast amounts of human labor) into form with awe-inspiring scale and beauty. Many of the objects on display left me transfixed.

magicmagic

I can believe that almost anything can be designed and manufactured in modern facilities with modern methods, but the idea of a perfect 50-pound crystal sphere emerging from a piece of rock with nothing but years of hand labor seems like magic to modern me. As does a 12-ton sphinx of red granite that was quarried 600 miles from where it was carved.

The technology of our virtual world, which until very recently inspired such a sense of magic in me, has become the every day. And for me at least, those artifacts of a previous physical world now seem like the work of ancient magicians.

November 26 2012

Four short links: 26 November 2012

  1. High Levels of Burnout in US Drone Pilots (NPR) — 17 percent of active duty drone pilots surveyed are thought to be “clinically distressed.” The Air Force says this means the pilots’ stress level has crossed a threshold where it’s now affecting the pilots’ work and family. A large majority of the pilots said they’re not getting any counseling for their stress. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. The Internet of Middle-Class Things (Russell Davies) — my mind keeps returning to this: you know, commercially, that a technology has succeeded when it’s used for inane middle-class tasks.
  3. First Draft of the Revolution (Liza Daly) — interactive fiction, playable on the web and as epub book. Very nice use of the technology!
  4. Minecraft for Raspberry Pi — see also Minecraft augmented reality for iOS. Minecraft is Lego for kids, and it can be a gateway drug to coding.

August 28 2012

August 21 2012

Three kinds of big data

Photo of the columns of Castor and Pollux by OliverN5 on FlickrIn the past couple of years, marketers and pundits have spent a lot of time labeling everything ”big data.” The reasoning goes something like this:

  • Everything is on the Internet.
  • The Internet has a lot of data.
  • Therefore, everything is big data.

When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you have a Hadoop deployment, everything looks like big data. And if you’re trying to cloak your company in the mantle of a burgeoning industry, big data will do just fine. But seeing big data everywhere is a sure way to hasten the inevitable fall from the peak of high expectations to the trough of disillusionment.

We saw this with cloud computing. From early idealists saying everything would live in a magical, limitless, free data center to today’s pragmatism about virtualization and infrastructure, we soon took off our rose-colored glasses and put on welding goggles so we could actually build stuff.

So where will big data go to grow up?

Once we get over ourselves and start rolling up our sleeves, I think big data will fall into three major buckets: Enterprise BI, Civil Engineering, and Customer Relationship Optimization. This is where we’ll see most IT spending, most government oversight, and most early adoption in the next few years.

Enterprise BI 2.0

For decades, analysts have relied on business intelligence (BI) products like Hyperion, Microstrategy and Cognos to crunch large amounts of information and generate reports. Data warehouses and BI tools are great at answering the same question — such as “what were Mary’s sales this quarter?” — over and over again. But they’ve been less good at the exploratory, what-if, unpredictable questions that matter for planning and decision making because that kind of fast exploration of unstructured data is traditionally hard to do and therefore expensive.

Most “legacy” BI tools are constrained in two ways:

  • First, they’ve been schema-then-capture tools in which the analyst decides what to collect, then later capture that data for analysis.
  • Second, they’ve typically focused on reporting what Avinash Kaushik (channeling Donald Rumsfeld) refers to as “known unknowns” — things we know we don’t know, and generate reports for.

These tools are used for reporting and operational purposes, usually focused on controlling costs, executing against an existing plan, and reporting on how things are going.

As my Strata co-chair Edd Dumbill pointed out when I asked for thoughts on this piece:

“The predominant functional application of big data technologies today is in ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load). I’ve heard the figure that it’s about 80% of Hadoop applications. Just the real grunt work of log file or sensor processing before loading into an analytic database like Vertica.”

The availability of cheap, fast computers and storage, as well as open source tools, have made it okay to capture first and ask questions later. That changes how we use data because it makes it okay to speculate beyond the initial question that triggered the collection of data.

What’s more, the speed with which we can get results — sometimes as fast as a human can ask them — makes data easier to explore interactively. This combination of interactivity and speculation takes BI into the realm of “unknown unknowns,” the insights that can produce a competitive advantage or an out-of-the-box differentiator.

We saw this shift in cloud computing: first, big public clouds wooed green-field startups. Then, in a few years, incumbent IT vendors introduced their private cloud offerings. Private clouds included only a fraction of the benefits of public clouds, but were nevertheless a sufficient blend of smoke, mirrors, and features to delay the inevitable move to public resources by a few years and appease the business. For better or worse, that’s where most of IT budgets are being spent today according to IDC, Gartner, and others.

In the next few years, then, look for acquisitions and product introductions — and not a little vaporware — as BI vendors that enterprises trust bring them “big data lite”: enough to satisfy their CEO’s golf buddies, but not so much that their jobs are threatened. This, after all, is how change comes to big organizations.

Ultimately, we’ll see traditional “known unknowns” BI reporting living alongside big-data-powered data import and cleanup, and fast, exploratory data “unknown unknown” interactivity.

Civil Engineering

The second use of big data is in society and government. Already, data mining can be used to predict disease outbreaks, understand traffic patterns, and improve education.

Cities are facing budget crunches, infrastructure problems, and a crowding from rural citizens. Solving these problems is urgent, and cities are perfect labs for big data initiatives. Take a metropolis like New York: hackathons; open feeds of public data; and a population that generates a flood of information as it shops, commutes, gets sick, eats, and just goes about its daily life.

Datagotham is just one example of a city's efforts to hack itself

I think municipal data is one of the big three for several reasons: it’s a good tie breaker for partisanship, we have new interfaces everyone can understand, and we finally have a mostly-connected citizenry.

In an era of partisan bickering, hard numbers can settle the debate. So, they’re not just good government; they’re good politics. Expect to see big data applied to social issues, helping us to make funding more effective and scarce government resources more efficient (perhaps to the chagrin of some public servants and lobbyists). As this works in the world’s biggest cities, it’ll spread to smaller ones, to states, and to municipalities.

Making data accessible to citizens is possible, too: Siri and Google Now show the potential for personalized agents; Narrative Science takes complex data and turns it into words the masses can consume easily; Watson and Wolfram Alpha can give smart answers, either through curated reasoning or making smart guesses.

For the first time, we have a connected citizenry armed (for the most part) with smartphones. Nielsen estimated that smartphones would overtake feature phones in 2011, and that concentration is high in urban cores. The App Store is full of apps for bus schedules, commuters, local events, and other tools that can quickly become how governments connect with their citizens and manage their bureaucracies.

The consequence of all this, of course, is more data. Once governments go digital, their interactions with citizens can be easily instrumented and analyzed for waste or efficiency. That’s sure to provoke resistance from those who don’t like the scrutiny or accountability, but it’s a side effect of digitization: every industry that goes digital gets analyzed and optimized, whether it likes it or not.

Customer Relationship Optimization

The final home of applied big data is marketing. More specifically, it’s improving the relationship with consumers so companies can, as Sergio Zyman once said, sell them more stuff, more often, for more money, more efficiently.

The biggest data systems today are focused on web analytics, ad optimization, and the like. Many of today’s most popular architectures were weaned on ads and marketing, and have their ancestry in direct marketing plans. They’re just more focused than the comparatively blunt instruments with which direct marketers used to work.

Tamis a Lait by El Bibliomata on FlickrThe number of contact points in a company has multiplied significantly. Where once there was a phone number and a mailing address, today there are web pages, social media accounts, and more. Tracking users across all these channels — and turning every click, like, share, friend, or retweet into the start of a long funnel that leads, inexorably, to revenue is a big challenge. It’s also one that companies like Salesforce understand, with its investments in chat, social media monitoring, co-browsing, and more.

This is what’s lately been referred to as the “360-degree customer view” (though it’s not clear that companies will actually act on customer data if they have it, or whether doing so will become a compliance minefield). Big data is already intricately linked to online marketing, but it will branch out in two ways.

First, it’ll go from online to offline. Near-field-equipped smartphones with ambient check-in are a marketer’s wet dream, and they’re coming to pockets everywhere. It’ll be possible to track queue lengths, store traffic, and more, giving retailers fresh insights into their brick-and-mortar sales. Ultimately, companies will bring the optimization that online retail has enjoyed to an offline world as consumers become trackable.

Second, it’ll go from Wall Street (or maybe that’s Madison Avenue and Middlefield Road) to Main Street. Tools will get easier to use, and while small businesses might not have a BI platform, they’ll have a tablet or a smartphone that they can bring to their places of business. Mobile payment players like Square are already making them reconsider the checkout process. Adding portable customer intelligence to the tool suite of local companies will broaden how we use marketing tools.

Headlong into the trough

That’s my bet for the next three years, given the molasses of market confusion, vendor promises, and unrealistic expectations we’re about to contend with. Will big data change the world? Absolutely. Will it be able to defy the usual cycle of earnest adoption, crushing disappointment, and eventual rebirth all technologies must travel? Certainly not.

Related:

August 18 2012

The future of the Olympic Park - in pictures

The London Legacy Development Corporation plans to build 8,000 new homes at the Olympic Park in Stratford. Here's how it might look in 20 years





How the Olympics will shape the future of east London

With plans to build 8,000 new homes at the Olympic Park over the next two decades, Stratford's future depends on a sympathetic approach to regeneration…

Long, long ago, I sat in a nondescript room with an official leading what was then a grand government project to regenerate a huge area called the Thames Gateway. Her organisation, she said, was supporting London's Olympic bid because it was almost impossible to make anything happen in the Thames Gateway, which extended from east London through south Essex and north Kent to the sea, and only the Games could change this.

She was in this position because even longer ago, in the John Major era, the relevant minister, Michael Heseltine, had made a speech christening the Thames Gateway and announcing that Something Must Be Done. So the vast effort of the Olympics had to be enlisted to make some sense of a politician's figure of speech. It was and is a seriously arse-about-face way of doing a bit of regeneration.

Over the next 20 years it is hoped to build 8,000 homes around the Olympic Park, in addition to the 2,800 already created by the athletes' village, and to create 8,000 jobs – that is, to make something like a middle-sized market town. In fairness, one should add the less tangible but real benefit of a feelgood factor to a wider area of east London. To achieve all this will have required not only the Olympic billions, but also investment in public transport in Stratford unmatched anywhere else in the country, an additional grant of £290m to be spent on legacy, and more hundreds of millions of public money spent acquiring land. Some of the public expenditure will be paid back as this land is developed, but there are no obligations as to how much or when.

But never mind. Not many people now care that Olympic claims for boosting business, tourism and regeneration are tenuous. Opinion polls show that most people in Britain think that £9bn or so is not too much to pay just for the national buzz and joy that came with the Games. So the question is: how can this place so extraordinarily blessed with aspiration and funding be as great as, in theory, it should be?

The new homes and neighbourhoods could be beautiful and desirable places that would create new models and set new standards for British house building. The park and venues, such as the Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome, could be genuinely public assets, of easy access to all.

Most critically all this has to be done in such a way that the new wonderland doesn't turn its back on its surroundings but genuinely connects with them. Early in the Olympic project, the neighbouring areas were seen as destitute wastelands  be erased or shut out, and the main weakness of what has already been built is its lumpiness – the tendency of elements such as the Westfield shopping centre and the athletes' village to turn their back. It would be relatively easy, but a complete failure, to make an exclusive residential idyll here.

At the moment, hopeful signs are emitting from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), the body in charge. Its new chairman, Daniel Moylan, declares that he wants the Olympic Park and its surroundings to be "a very desirable area and we would like as many people as possible to live there". He wants alternatives to "the limited range of standardised products" that large house-building companies tend to produce. He wants property to rent as well as buy, and homes built by their owners. He challenges the common journalistic denigration of Stratford: "This place is not a dump. There are lots of people who are entrepreneurial and enthusiastic."

Sensible-sounding management arrangements have been set up for the park and for venues such as the Velodrome, and the Legacy Corporation swears blind that these will not be over-exploited in order to turn a profit. The park, it says, will be open to absolutely everyone, which presumably includes those who might be a bit annoying or unsightly and not good for property values. The LLDC is rightly proud that, compared with previous Olympic cities, London's planning for the future of the site is far advanced, and it has set up an impressive quality review panel to oversee the design of whatever is built.

The LLDC has produced a masterplan for the new neighbourhoods that suggests a large proportion of family houses arranged around pleasing open spaces, and with an overall coherence that is rare in regeneration projects. It is planning 29 playgrounds and has made impressive declarations of principle in relation to sustainability, accessibility and design.

In the scruffy fringes of the park there has been a change in attitude. Where earlier plans saw them as places to be obliterated by blocks of flats, the idea now is to make the most of what is already there, such as the artists' studios and small businesses and unexpected bits of canal and workshop. Muf architecture/art, a design practice that has helped lead this change of attitude, is now involved in the first of the new residential neighbourhoods, which is a good sign. "Obliteration is not in our lexicon," declares Moylan.

They still have some headaches, most notably the future of the stadium. But the real question is whether the current high ambitions can survive the pressures that will come to bear. How inclusive can the new developments be, for example, when changes to housing benefit are likely to push people out of places like this? How kindly will the big house-building companies take to alternative models to their preferred way of doing things? What if progress is seen to be going too slowly and pressure grows for quick results? It's too early to say. For now we can only observe that the masters of Olympic legacy are saying the right things, and wish them good luck.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




August 16 2012

Gerry Vaughan obituary

My husband Gerry Vaughan, who has died of prostate cancer aged 77, was an 11-plus failure who went on to work as painter, teacher, lecturer and education adviser for Derbyshire county council.

Born in Gravesend, Kent, he went to the town's Gordon school for boys, where his artistic talent was nurtured initially, and then from the age of 14 to Gravesend School of Art. After national service, he was accepted into the painting school at the Royal College of Art. He left in 1959, having been awarded the RCA life-painting prize.

His idealism and belief in education initially inspired him to teach, and he joined the staff at Gordano school in Portishead, Somerset. Two years later, in 1961, he went to Chesterfield College of Art as lecturer in fine art. He was appointed as teacher adviser for art by Derbyshire county council in 1969 and remained in the post until 1985. During those years he was responsible for much of the art education in Derbyshire. He was an early member of the Art Advisers Association and worked closely with colleagues from other counties and areas.

We moved to Wirksworth, Derbyshire, in 1963, where local concern for a very run-down, neglected small town caused Gerry to become a founder-member of Wirksworth Civic Society in 1969. When the Wirksworth Project to regenerate the town was established in the late 70s, Gerry's interest in the built environment came into its own. He was charged with liaison with the local schools and encouraged them to be fully involved with the project. He ran courses for teachers and children, organised a study of art in the built environment and staged major exhibitions of the young people's work. The project was widely reported in the national press and had a worldwide influence on regeneration.

His early retirement, as a result of illness, enabled Gerry to take up his own painting once more. His sense of colour, able draughtsmanship and love of water – especially the Thames estuary and the Greek islands – resulted in a body of work that earned considerable respect. He exhibited in various venues in the UK and Greece. He supported the Wirksworth festival from its inception, both exhibiting and participating in the selection panel from time to time.

Gerry was painting until the end, through sleepless nights and long days, his work still full of vibrancy and colour.

He is survived by me, our children Simon, Jane and David, and seven grandchildren.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




August 08 2012

Bluewater thrives by not alarming shoppers with anything new or strange | Owen Hatherley

The expanding mall is a kind of undemocratic city, with levels of planning and security that almost guarantee 'no riots here'

Bluewater, the enormous north Kent shopping mall, is planning an extension. About 1,500 "private sector jobs" will arrive in a deindustrialising area, as if to answer the coalition's increasingly desperate prayers, but the continued success and expansion of a shopping centre during a double-dip recession might seem unexpected. Its co-owner, Lend Lease, has recently been better known for closing down high-profile projects – as in the chaos of its redevelopment of Elephant and Castle, or the demise of the Tithebarn "mall without walls" in Preston. Somehow, Bluewater endures and grows. How can an out-of-town mall manage to become more successful during an apparent decline in retail spending? Why are people going there to nose around chain stores, when we're all apparently buying on Amazon or going to farmers' markets and niche high street shops? What exactly is Bluewater's secret?

The first thing you need to know about Bluewater is that it's not merely a shopping mall, but something much more ambitious. I know the place very well, having regular appointments at the nearby, contiguous PFI-built Darent Valley hospital. As the crow flies, the two are about a quarter of a mile apart, but you couldn't walk it – buses have to loop for some time around the massively over-engineered motorways that feed the mall. But when you finally do arrive, the entrance is exceptionally well defined. Neoclassical gateways and signs make the distinction from straggling north Kent subtopia apparent. Even the flyovers here have their concrete decorated to make it clear you're somewhere different. There is a reason for this – a reason for everything in Bluewater.

According to its architect Eric Kuhne, head designer at the multinational firm CivicArts, Bluewater is "a city rather than a retail destination". Its design and planning are intended, he said in a 2008 interview, to "dignify the heroic routine of everyday life that drives you to produce a better world for yourself and your kids".

What this means in practice is that Bluewater is not solely a retail hangar, in the vein that runs from the Arndale Centres to Westfields. It's the same typology, a heavily patrolled and surveilled series of shops and restaurants in a big enclosed box, but it takes some of those spaces' innovations much further. Not just private security, but an entire code of conduct for entry, not to mention a dress code. No hoods, no baseball caps, no swearing, even.

If Bluewater is a city, then it's obviously not a democratic one. Kuhne wouldn't have it any other way – in the same interview, he pointed out that "democracy has a pretty poor track record of building great cities. The great cities of the world that we travel to see were built by benevolent despots".

Like any other city, Bluewater has its periphery. Ebbsfleet, the exurban new "town" that boasts its own line to Paris, is effectively its suburb. Its cul-de-sacs and wood-clad flats abut wide motorways and retail parks, discouraging any civic or public life in anything but the mall itself. The Thames Gateway, the unofficial eastward expansion of London, has no centre, no real public space – for that it has Bluewater, and its older, gawkier north-of-the-river cousin Lakeside. Also, like a city, it has its slums. Nearby towns such as Chatham or Northfleet are as stricken as Barrow-in-Furness or Merthyr Tydfil. Their former centres are practically decimated by Bluewater.

Yet to discover Bluewater's secret you have to go inside. Its architecture is so didactic it sometimes evokes Stalin's pet projects, like the Moscow Metro or the Exhibition of Economic Achievements. Sculptures and slogans urging jollity, exhorting commerce, singing the beauty of nature and stressing historical continuity are in every corner. Many depict the trades that people once practised in north Kent, appropriately for this mall scraped out of a chalk quarry. Cutlers, Tanners, Fletchers, Bowyers, Chandlers, Glaziers and others are all immortalised by little statues in niches on the mall's upper levels.

From a distance, the big box's glass extrusions resemble Kentish oasthouses. Bluewater tears the heart out of older towns, and replaces – partially and inadequately – older jobs, but it immortalises them as it does so. It is, in Kodwo Eshun's phrase, a "future shock absorber", a new and destructive landscape that strains every sinew to reassure, to make the shopper feel secure and at ease, to eliminate anything alarming or obviously new and strange. It boasts levels of planning and security that practically guarantee "no riots here".

Bluewater's architects are right – its success is not merely about shopping, but about the production of a particular kind of place. The successful city, as represented by Bluewater, is clean, corporate, homogeneous, authoritarian, and, should anything unexpected occur, easily sealed off. The worse things get, the more it will thrive.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




July 29 2012

Ten things I miss about the 20th century | Ian Martin

Smoke everywhere, lovely great lumps of concrete and chirpy bus conductors – just some of the things I liked about the good old days

1. Vocalised cheerfulness I'm not saying people were happier in the 20th century; they weren't. There was a lot to contend with: war, TB, no bass end on record players etc. But there was more public cheerfulness. People would sing out loud just walking down the street. Try doing that now and see if passersby make eye contact. Remember bus conductors? Chirpiness was a required skill then for a Routemaster crew. Passengers were often treated to a "soundclash" – the conductor perhaps whistling the latest Tommy Steele, the driver loudly crooning something upbeat by Edmundo Ros. It was a bit like nowadays when you get teenagers at different ends of the bus playing syncopated misogyny on their phones, only happy instead of angry.

2. Coal Yeah, I know it killed half of us, but I miss the smell of coal smoke. It used to be everywhere, belching out of trains and chimneys, atomised, inhaled. Most people were addicted to cigarettes too. Everyone died smokey bacon flavour. Buildings were agreeably shrouded in grime. Fog was thick, like a sodium-yellow blanket. Of course we older people are kicking ourselves that we didn't put some soot away for the future. Now it goes for up to £3,000 a scuttleful and is keenly sought after by billionaires, who dress up like the cast of Mad Men and snort it through 10 bob notes. Sooty the hand puppet, he was from a more innocent age too.

3. Proper weather The climate's been broken for years (see "Coal" above, soz) but it can't be fixed because NOBODY DOES REPAIRS ANY MORE.

4. Having a pint with a racist Maybe it's the invisibility of old people, but I rarely "fall into conversation" with morons in the pub these days. It's what happened in the golden age before we had mobiles to check. There'd be a neutral remark about the weather and before you knew it some sullen clump of sideboards and tash opposite would be blaming "them" for his early black-and-white version of Broken Britain. Then you'd have an argument while you drank your pints and it seemed quite important to engage and challenge. Today, if anyone says anything racist the protocol is to smile, pretend to go to the toilet, tweet "Oh my God, there's a totally racist dude in this pub", then covertly film them and hope they say something YouTubeable.

5. Women's liberation So much clearer then: men are shit, we've ruined everything, stand aside, woman's right to choose, equal pay, non-patriarchal parenting, loose clothes. Now feminism's tribalised it's much more confusing. Julie Bindel's lesbo resistance or Caitlin Moran's cock-based irony? Both, obviously. But I miss the days of free thinking and reparations, when New Men did all the cooking and were more than happy to be sexual playthings, although to be honest my mind's wandering a bit now.

6. The majesty of concrete Lovely, egalitarian, optimistic great lumps of concrete, eg the Hayward Gallery, were going up on the South Bank at about the time the Kinks released Waterloo Sunset. We were in paradise.

7. Haughty television Never mind Starkey, Schama and all the other clever dicks with their blousons and gesticulating on battlements and meticulous reconstructed scenes because apparently we can't be trusted to use our own bloody imaginations any more. Before colour telly, AJP Taylor could talk into a camera for an hour armed only with an immaculate brain, a glass of water and 10 Woodbine.

8. Working-class MPs We used to have loads of them. Working miners became union reps, discovered a natural gift for turning rage into oratory and were duly elected as parliamentary tribunes for working people. Dennis Skinner's still there like a pissed uncle at a funeral, but who remembers Coventry's Dave Nellist? When he was an MP in the 80s he insisted on taking only the average wage of skilled workers in his constituency. The rest he gave back to Labour, who in return expelled him for being too militant and then waited gormlesssly for Neil "The Welsh Mussolini" Kinnock to become prime minister. Today our House of Commons is just the Members' Pavilion at Lord's without the hats.

9. Counter culture These days it's all "meta" or "pop-up" and I'm not entirely sure what they are. Oppositional thinking's too sophisticated now. It was all much simpler when culture had three gears only and a puncture repair kit in the saddlebag. Ah, Spam sandwiches, orange squash, purple hearts … sorry, mind's gone again.

10. Non-monetised public space The internet saw the last century out and this one in. Early on there was great excitement about "virtual reality" yet who could have foreseen REALITY TURNING INTO THE INTERNET? A journey through London in 2012 is like navigating your way from one JavaScript nightmare to another in the days before ad blockers. Every available square inch of public space, every cubic foot of public air now has to be jizzed over by flickering ads and corporate branding. And looming above it all the grotesque Shard, our capital's latest and most disgusting lump of privatised skyline. Capitalism giving us a scaly, taloned middle finger. What next – sponsored clouds? Toll pavements? Paywalled churches? Sure, it sounds ridiculous but you mark my words, soon they'll be charging us to get into St Paul's Cathedral. Oh.

Charlie Brooker is away.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

July 26 2012

Will you ring Martin Creed's bell?

Artist Martin Creed has asked us all to ring a bell on the first day of the Olympics. Creed believes in public art of the collective, but what does it really mean if we all ring a bell at once?

Everything is going to be alright. Those are the words Martin Creed wrote in neon in one of his public artworks. This white-light message has been seen on buildings all over the world. I have read it in Hackney, in Milan. Maybe it should have been written around the Olympic stadium to reflect the hope that, as one of Europe's most struggling economies hosts the world's biggest sporting event, this will boost us, save us, put some Olympic fire in our finances.

Instead, Creed is asking everyone in Britain to ring a bell tomorrow morning at 8.12am to mark the first day of the 2012 Olympiad. Even Big Ben will be chiming in. But what's it all about?

I have to confess I am still not sure if I will be ringing a bell. Something in me resists it – but at least the resistance is making me aware of the meaning of Creed's public art. He loves community. He believes in the collective. That message he put up high – Everything is going to be alright – is a message for everyone, encouraging and embracing. His roomful of balloons is similarly a work to share. And his marble staircase in Edinburgh is a throwaway luxury for everyone.

A lot of works by Creed are unnerving. The lights go on and off. His songs insist on the reality of nothing. An artist who worries about nothingness and darkness reassures himself and us by promoting the wisdom of crowds.

Will the big bell-ring work? It has plenty of institutional support. In Edinburgh, a bell-ringing session will take place on Creed's Scotsman Steps. So why am I feeling resistant?

The collective is not a straightforward ideal. It means conformity as well as community. I want to know more about what Creed means by his glorification of collective acts. What does it mean to all ring bells in unison, and what does he want it to mean? Is it a glib gesture or something deeper – and if it is deeper, what is it seriously saying?

Of course, I might find this out by ringing a bell. And that may actually be the best reason for doing so.

• If you'd like to ring in the Olympics, you can select a sound from our bell-ringing interactive


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




June 28 2012

Arabic arts festival comes to Liverpool

The distorting lens of news, focussed on the dramatic and unusual, can give the impression that the Arab world is synonymous with turmoil and war. A week in Liverpool will show otherwise.

Liverpool has long had connections with the Arab world, particularly with Yemen. In common with other port cities such as Cardiff and South Shields, Yemeni sailors formed the origins of a substantial community over a century ago.

For all the colder temperatures and Atlantic rain, they enjoyed the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the great port, which was then the principal gateway in the UK, and for much of Europe, to the burgeoning United States.

Most Liverpudlians of Arabic origin today trace their ancestry to the Yemen; few remain in shipping but they have flourished as newsagents, with members of the community owning some 400 corner shops. The Liverpool Arabic Centre, founded in 1997, has run a marvellous project called Moving Here, publishing online memories contributed by its members and their friends and neighbours.

Here's Marie, for instance, on her childhood in the 1960s:

I had a happy time growing up in Liverpool. My father was a lorry driver in here and my mother was British. I was growing up, trying to be a Muslim in England but it was in the 60s/70s and there weren't really any Mosques around or anything like that. Not like today. There was a 'Zawia' and we used to go there to learn the Quran and Arabic as children. We'd have our own parties at the David Lewis Hotel. It was great really, I was really happy.


And here's another, which I hope you'll agree is worth quoting at length:

Hello, my name in Mohamed Rajeh. I moved to Liverpool from Yemen in 1943.

I was a farmer in the 1930s. I was cultivating the land and we were very happy. At that time, there was nothing in Yemen except agriculture. People though started to protest against Great Britain while the Second World War needed people (to enlist). We moved to Aden. English welcome more people, we had passports, they gave us 200 French Ryals each and put us in boats and took us to Britain. I lived in England since then.

In Yemen, I suppose, I was looking for a job in the sea. It was a war time and all boats arrived to Yemen ports empty. There was no-one there who could help me go out and work at sea. Anyhow if you had British passport or 'chash book' you were given the opportunity to go. So I joined up and they put us in boats with others. Some people they were jumping off the boat, they were afraid of war and of facing the danger of sinking in the sea! Others took the risk. I was one of those people who took the risk. We moved from one country to another until finally we arrived here.

The trip wasn't difficult. In Aden we were happy, we had food and drinks, the soldier came and checked our papers. Nobody could have a job in the sea unless the soldier agreed. It was war time. However, on the boats we didn't know what to do, we knew nothing. The soldier patiently started to teach us what to do. It was not like nowadays, if you don't know how to do a job they tell you to 'go away!'. Though then, they were in need of human resources.

At the beginning we arrived at Middlesbrough. I had a British passport but they said, 'you don't have the right to enter Britain just yet, unless you do another trip on the boat'. I went back to the boat where we went to Africa for two months and when I came back they said, 'ok, you are allowed to enter Britain'. Afterwards I don't remember where I moved to … I think to Liverpool in 1943.

I knew nothing of the language at that time, I was living in Parr St. in the China Town. Anything I needed was easy to get hold of and when I got lost and couldn't find my house, the policeman would take your hand right to the doorstep. It was a different time where policemen were good and Arabs were good. When you can't find your address all you have to do is to give your address to the policeman and he would take you to there.

An Arabic Arts Festival in Liverpool now hopes to illuminate more of that context to life's dramatic, 'newsy' events, as Mr Rajeh himself does so richly. From July 6-15, the city will host a wide range of events covering most genres of art, craft and music.

Venues include the Bluecoat, FACT, the Kasbah, the Philharmonic, Unity Theatre, Walker Art Gallery, St George's Hall, Sahara Restaurant, Liverpool Arabic Centre, as well as outdoor events at Sefton Park (which will see a family day) and Liverpool One.

Films, literary readings, drama, dance workshops, ballet, readings, art exhibitions and concerts will feature, along with discussions on recent events in the Arab world. They will highlight diverse Arab cultures from Morocco to Iraq. Some events are free, while there is a charge for others.

Razanne Carmey, the festival's executive director, says:

In Liverpool, a city that can say much about its art and culture coming through change and turmoil, we look beyond reports of riots, war and politics to celebrate the arts, culture and life behind the news.

Good to end, perhaps, with Rajeh's conclusion, especially if you cross-refer it to some of the comments on the threads to the Northerner's recent posts on Sheffield's campaign against the deportation of Lemlem Hussein Abdu. See here and here. And here's Rajeh:

The British never hurt anybody, they are the best people, and they never use bad words with you. They respect you in offices. They are honest with you. They care for you if you are ill as if your own Mum and Dad would do. They will bring you anything you need. In Yemen only your own people would take care of you. Even some of my family they might ignore an old man like me. They would say I'm a drunk or naughty!

As for where I consider my home, I can't deny Yemen. You can't deny the country where you have been born. I have to go back to Yemen one day but I don't want to leave my daughter here. However, Britain is a very good country, I do love it, I do love it.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




June 25 2012

The Shard is the perfect metaphor for modern London | Aditya Chakraborrty

Expensive, off-limits and owned by foreign investors – the Shard extends the ways in which London is becoming more unequal

Next Thursday, a giant metaphor will be launched in London. The prime minister of Qatar will fly over especially; his supporting act will be Prince Andrew. Foreign dignitaries will be treated to a lavish dinner; lowly residents of the capital can gawk at a free laser show that threatens to out-do George Lucas.

This is how developers plan to "inaugurate" the Shard, the 72-storey skyscraper that already stalks Londoners everywhere they go. It glowers over your conversations in Peckham; it skulks in your eyeline as you amble along Hampstead Heath. Get up close to Europe's tallest tower, and its 1,017 feet (getting on for twice the height of the Gherkin) render everything around it toylike, laughable.

The money men behind the Shard would like the rest of us to treat it merely as a building. Ideally, you'd marvel at its jutting architecture (the work of Renzo Piano, don't you know); failing that, they'd take you castigating its arrogant flashiness.

But before falling for the predictable Shard-en freude, we should think again. Because what is approaching completion over on London's South Bank is almost the perfect metaphor for how the capital is being transformed – for the worse. The skyscraper both encapsulates and extends the ways in which London is becoming more unequal and dangerously dependent on hot money.

Consider again the story of the Shard. This is a high-rise that has been imposed on London Bridge despite protests from residents, conservation groups and a warning from Unesco that it may compromise the world-heritage status of the nearby Tower of London. What's more, its owners and occupiers will have very little to do with the area, which for all its centrality is also home to some of the worst deprivation and unemployment in the entire city. The building is 95% owned by the government of Qatar and its developer, Irvine Sellar, talks of it as a "virtual town", comprising a five-star hotel and Michelin-starred restaurants.

It will also have 10 flats that are on sale for between £30m to £50m, and from where on a clear day it will be easier to gaze out on to the North Sea, 44 miles away, than at the beetle-sized locals 65 floors down below. "We won't really market these apartments," the PR man cheerily told me. "At this level of the market, there are probably only 25 to 50 possible buyers in the world. The agents will simply phone them up."

So one of London's most identifiable buildings will have almost nothing to do with the city itself. Even the office space rented out at the bottom is intended for hedge funds and financiers wanting more elbow room than they can afford in the City or Mayfair. The only working-class Londoners will presumably bus in at night from the outskirts to clean the bins. Otherwise, to all intents and purposes, this will be the Tower of the 1%.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Shard is that it simply exemplifies a number of trends. First, it merely confirms how far the core of London is becoming, in industrial terms, a one-horse town. Finance, which began in the Square Mile, has now spread to Docklands to the east, to Mayfair in the west and now to the South Bank.

Second, it proves that buildings are no longer merely premises owned by businesses, but are now chips for investment. What's more those chips are increasingly owned by people who barely ever set foot in the country. A study from Cambridge University last year, Who Owns the City?, found that 52% of the City's offices are now in the hands of foreign investors – up from just 8% in 1980. What's more, foreigners are piling into London property at an ever-increasing rate, as they look for relatively safe havens from the global financial turmoil. And yet, as the Cambridge team point out, the giddy combination of overseas cash and heavy borrowing leaves London in a very precarious position. Another credit crunch, or a meltdown elsewhere in the world, would now almost certainly have big knock-on effects in the capital.

The same story applies to London's housing market, too. Earlier this year, the upmarket estate agent's Savills noted that Britons now made just over one in every three property purchases in the posh parts of central London. "The more central the market and the more expensive the property, the more likely it is to be purchased by an overseas buyer or foreign national," their report noted.

London has historically always been the point at which foreign money enters Britain, and disperses in search of a place to invest. But, as Louis Moreno of University College London points out, what's happened over the past 15 years is that an unprecedented amount of foreign money has come into London – and lodged there, in its property. The cash hasn't gone into productive enterprises that will benefit or employ ordinary Londoners. It has sat in plush new flats or office blocks. And now it's setting up its biggest home yet, on the South Bank.

So, the Shard: it's expensive. It's off-limits. It's largely owned by people who don't live here. And it is the perfect metaphor for what our capital is becoming.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




June 22 2012

The New Urban Green exhibition - in pictures

A new photography exhibition in Liverpool celebrates green spaces in urban areas, from gardens in prisons to asylum seekers' allotments to wildflower meadows on housing estates



June 20 2012

Zaha Hadid says austerity is not an excuse for low-quality housing

Iraqi-born architect says use of the word austerity is a cliche and could be disastrous for the public

Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born architect who designed the Olympic Park aquatic centre, has called on the government not to use the climate of austerity as an excuse for slashing budgets and building low-quality housing and hospitals.

Hadid, speaking in an interview at the Cannes International Festival of Advertising on Wednesday, said the use of the word austerity was a cliche to hide behind which would end up being disastrous for the public.

"I think that [austerity] is used as a cliche because people don't have ideas, they want to crib [old ones] to do bad stuff," she said, in a Q and A session with Guardian deputy editor Kath Viner. "Schools, housing, hospitals – I think the government should invest in good housing."

She added that the skyline of many of the UK's cities were "made horrible" by developments in the 1960s because they government "wanted to be cheap".

"There needs to be investment. We need some sort of quality," Hadid said. "All the privileged can travel, see different worlds, not everyone can. I think it is important for people to have an interesting locale nearby. [Buildings] need to do another job, enlighten people, space enlightens the same way as music art and technology."

Hadid was also asked about the cost of her projects. The Olympic aquatics centre was originally budgeted at £75m but has run to more than £250m.

"My buildings are not particularly expensive," she said. "It is not a tin shed. If you want a tinny car you pay for that."

I don't think it is just fashionable [to want a civic space], I think [buildings] do need that," she said. "The ground as public domain, no longer a perimeter or fortress where you cannot penetrate."


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


June 19 2012

TV review: All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry; Joely Richardson on Shakespeare's Women

Grayson Perry is a true wizard – he takes the musings of the upper classes and transmutes them into art

Grayson Perry concluded his glorious, inspired and incisive investigation into modern British taste and concomitant neat gutting and filleting of that slippery fish, the class system, with a visit to its upper reaches in the final part of his series All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry (Channel 4).

The Countess of Bathurst dressed him for drinks at Berkley castle. Did he look the part, Perry asked the guests. "You look very smart," they all told him, which is gentry-speak for "No, dear boy, not in the least." You might be able to crack the dress code in time, but the euphemisms would take several lifetimes to master.

Perry took in the shabby beauty of Elizabethan manors and Georgian mansions handed down through the increasingly impoverished generations and the modern gloss put on family seats sold to the new, celebrity aristocracy; and he grilled all their current owners about all he had seen. It was only as you watched him firing off questions – always pertinent, always perceptive, always aimed at cutting through the flummery and getting to the meat of the thing – that you realised what poor stuff the average presenter is made of. Rigorous, intelligent and intuitive, Perry never opened his mouth without either providing fresh insight himself or extracting it from his subject.

"I'm interested," he said at one point, "in how much people buy into the myth of where their place is in society." His gaze swept over the latest display of ancestral portraits and stags' heads within a gently crumbling pile and he gave one of his great dirty chuckles. "Is there a point when they actually start camping it up?" I invite you to contemplate the difference between this and anything ever uttered by Cherry Healey until your ears start to bleed. It won't take long. Watching Perry at work, I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz going from a world of black and white to glorious Technicolor. I never knew it could be like this.

This true wizard then distilled all he had learned and deduced from his various hosts about what marked them out from the middle and working classes – the prizing of old above new, the love of historical associations rather than brand names, the importance of understatement and the dread of overstatement, a custodial attitude towards, rather than proud ownership of, their homes ("The house is here," said Janey Clifford. "All we do is patch it up, really"), a desire to maintain the status quo and not indulge in self-expression – and transformed it into art. Six tapestries – two for each stratum of society – summed us all up in Perry's modern rendering of Hogarth's A Rake's Progress. For the first time ever, I became determined to visit a work of art. The man is clearly, in every way, a genius.

And while we're being cultured, let us turn to Joely Richardson on Shakespeare's Women (BBC4), part of the Shakespeare Uncovered season. It didn't actually start talking about the play's female characters until halfway through. The first 30 minutes took us through Shakespeare's own history (born – Stratford; married – Anne "not The Devil Wears Prada one" Hathaway; issue – twins! Twins like what will be in loads of his forthcoming plays!; buggered off – 1582-95, we know not where; turns up in London as actor/playwright; does pretty well before death in 1616 and brilliantly thereafter) without adding any more, I suspect, to the knowledge of anyone with even the briefest acquaintance with the man and certainly not to anyone who had watched any of the season's previous programmes.

After that, it was long on archive footage (including Vanessa Redgrave in her breakthrough screen role as an impossibly beautiful and mesmerising Rosalind in the RSC's televised As You Like It of 1961), assertions of the complexity of certain heroines (mainly Viola and Rosalind, with no mention of trickier propositions like Kate in The Taming of the Shrew) and of the surpassing brilliance and precocity of their creator's talent, but a little short on evidence. Richardson interviewed only her mother Vanessa and, briefly, actors in rehearsal for Twelfth Night and left the experts to talk to camera.

You longed for Grayson Perry to pop by for 10 minutes and unpack all the scholarship with which they clearly brimmed, with a few well-chosen questions. I suspect I shall be longing for that quite a lot from now on.


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


June 13 2012

Annie Lennox: why I'm against Aberdeen's City Gardens project

The same deluded vision that razed huge swaths of the historic city in the 1960s is being applied again today

The City Gardens project is something I took up arms against a couple of years ago, but in the end I put them down again, because I felt – and stated – that it is ultimately down to the citizens of Aberdeen to take the final decision.

But when I went back up to Aberdeen a few weeks ago and saw the state of the streets, I had never seen the city look so dejected. I felt very saddened by that. I had never thought I would see Aberdeen look like this.

Experience shows that city councillors, planners and developers, come together and offer a bright vision of the future, as they did in Aberdeen in the 1960s when they razed huge swaths of the historic city. They thought that would be their modernity. What we got was a ruination of history, and something put in its place which was cheap, crap and concrete. I knew at the time, when I was a teenager, that this was going to be pretty disastrous.

I have nothing whatsoever against modern architecture, but when it is cheap and crappy you usually look back at it in a few years time and say: "What a monstrosity." I think they are applying the same sort of deluded vision with Union Terrace Gardens. Instead we should look at what really needs to be done there: it needs a collective civic response.

What I see in Aberdeen is that there has been a lot of money made, but that money has not trickled through. You see strata of wealth in Aberdeen; there are expensive cars and glitzy restaurants but I don't see that reflected in the general civic state of the city. I feel the oil industry lives separately to the town.

My father and grandfather worked in the shipyards and shipbuilding industries; people built up wealth and then people who made their money put it back into Aberdeen, building the art gallery, the music hall etc and it served the community very well. It was beautiful. But walking around Union Street today you get a sense of a broken place. It is kind of degraded. It seems to me Aberdeen thinks in terms of a consumerist society, where the solution is: "Well, put more shops in and get more business." I think it's a mistake; the same mistake they made back in the 60s.

I think this phenomenon can be found through the whole of the country. It has wrecked the towns of Great Britain. I think it is a symptom; we used to have different types of flourishing industry, people had skills and crafts, they had a work ethic and were proud of their cities. But now it is very different. In some places generations have lived with unemployment for decades. We have a recession and we have imported American corporate chains on our high streets, creating a consumerist society in which we've lost a lot of our culture and a lot of our skills.

It's endemic and downgrading, and I don't think Aberdeen is much different to many other places that have lost their heart and soul. I don't think that oil money has brought a tremendous civic pride back to the citizens of the city. It's the fast buck: there's money being made but it's just floating on the top, separated from the rest of Aberdeen's citizens.

If Sir Ian Wood wants to invest £50m into the centre of Aberdeen, that is fundamentally good, but I disagree with the way he's going about it. It is not because I'm a reactionary, it is not because I'm against modernity or change. It is the way that this was done; it is short-termism, it is short-sighted.

From what I am gathering, he is not saying: "I have £50m, I want to talk to you, I want to hear what you guys want." He's telling the city this is what he will do with it. I think it's very imperious. I think it is very, very important to listen to more people, the people who are living there, the citizens of the town.

I don't have a great respect for the aesthetic values or vision of city planners or city councillors; I don't think that they've often got it right. Building a concrete piazza across Union Terrace Gardens, in a city that knows rain very well, I don't quite get that. It's not Italy. They don't get tourists coming to Aberdeen, and if they did, wouldn't they want to see something more real and authentic?


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl