It’s very difficult to concentrate on the world of architecture and urbanism at the moment when there are so many other distracting issues across the planet that are of great importance and concern to at least 99% of the human race.
While we listen to the BBC and other respected disseminators of news and information eking out the economy story so vital to the business of building a convivial and dignified environment, it seems not enough attention is being given to the Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras and his Syriza party – having won 26% of the vote, they are saying, ‘It’s a war between people and capitalism’. It may be a little pitiful to direct criticism and praise at architects, planners and the efforts of their clients when so much else is at stake.
Architects are going to ask whether it is fair to question the English burghers of Newbury in Berkshire for wanting to exterminate all those little bunny wabbits of Watership Down in the name of progress and profit.
They might also question the continuing folly of Las Vegas which is expanding in the middle of a desert where there is no readily available water; or getting work in Libya while the place is still recovering from years of an extreme dictatorship; or the wild extravagance of the impending London Olympic sport-fest, which will come and go in a two-week flash profiting but a few, all while many millions are wondering where their next meal will come from.
Someone is going to have to force me to accept that bankers, currency traders and CEOs of corporations — all no doubt with visions — should be so hugely and disproportionately rewarded for causing the increasing massive economic failure, dwindling share prices and the total loss of growth that is what looks like the impending collapse of the current fiscal system with the banner “we are all in it together”.
Should all these people — the majority like all those Trade Union members, the people on welfare and the working classes, who barely have a home or a job — be baling out the rich consumerists who were, apparently, not the only ones who caused us to be left in the terrible mess the Tories inherited from Labour, — you know Labour?
I suppose it would be ridiculous to suggest that all architects stop working for the 1% and concentrate only on the projects that serve the common good and those who have to choose between paying the rent and eating, the 99%.
More than 70% of the world’s population live in an urban environment of some kind and 99% of them are not rich and do not have much mobility, yet where they live and work is the real substance of any town or city and without them there is no market or urbanism to fuel the capitalist dream or provide occupation for architects and planners.
Architects will have to decide who their clients really are; long live the third industrial revolution.