pseudo-architectural tabula rasa and other hindrances to the true street

Realised last weekend, Stoke Newington High Street is Bishopsgate.  Same Street.  It’s the A10.

Bishopsgate.  Shoreditch High Street.  Kingsland Road, Kingsland High Street, Stoke Newington High Street and then Stamford Hill and then onwards.  I only know it go as far as Tottenham High Road.  Same Street.

Length and Breadth of the city, we know the thesis from posts previous.  Ghost style certainly does approve of the vogue for new paving.  Tabula Rasa.  Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin.  Scorch the Earth.  Destroy all traces and start again.  This was one of the central tenets behind architectural modernism’s intervention into the domain of the man on the street; the need to start again.  But we must be clear about this; back then, those high priests wanted to start again, so they could complete the perceived teleological process of history, and bring people to the ultimate, the absolute which – I was considering just today – would be architectural or social spaces and places where people, anyone, everyone, could meet and converse or get along just fine, like, really good.  That’s it.  That was the plan.


Now, Today, Gone is all trace of this utopian reckoning – a glimmer of faith in the town planner at his desk.  God, everything’s so blunt, so base.



HHHhhhmmm.  What do we have here?


Look below.  4 very different approaches to the problem of a tree.  Is the nature of the tree to be considered problematic?  These images would suggest so…  Are they protecting the tree from the pavement?  Or the pedestrian from some form of organic growth?  Organic growth can be so messy.  What sort of relationship are they expecting us, the people, to develop with the young sapling that we walk past, this lollipop stick of decorative greenery?


Here, in the photographs below, there is more artwork, more sporadic ingenuity than in all the concrete and sand they utilise.  And they’re doing it to protect the tree?  I think not.  The Tree has become Secondary to their grand plan.  A smooth, clean, grey surface with only a young tree to marr its purity.  A single box checked in the regeneration artist’s read-through drive-by…


So here we go –

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

And No. 4

This photograph demonstrates the same approach being taken, further up the same street.  This time in Stamford Hill.  Look at the carelessly discarded plastic barriers.

It’s like they don’t want you to touch the trees.

Question.  Why might that be?

Again, look at the tree in this scene.  How do you think it feels?

Later, much later, this is the same street in Stoke Newington.  Same old trees.  New paving all the way…


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