In search of a present-day utopia The heritage of the modernists

“Many people dream of a better world; Howard, Wright and Le Corbusier each went a step further and planned one. Their social consciences took this rare and remarkable step because they believed that, more than any other goal, their societies needed new kinds of cities.” Robert Fishman

“The world’s greatest happiness lies in action” Le Corbusier

Modernist planning, nowadays, equals authoritarian disaster, anti-social displacement of whole neighbourhoods, grey concrete buildings and large, uninspired open space – the Great Blight of Dullness, in the sarcastic words of Jane Jacobs. Indeed a lot of large-scale modernist projects didn’t quite work out the way their inventors had planned them on the drawing board. It may be en vogue to mock or discard the attempts of Ebenezer Howard, Le Corbusier or Frank Lloyd Wright to rebuild and reinvent the urban fabric and take the highly unsanitary 19th century slums well into the 20th century. Yet, there are good reasons to defend the project the modernists had in mind. Not all of their recipes worked, to say the least, but these urbanists may have had a quality lost to contemporary urbanism. The quality to dream, to formulate a vision and seek for big solutions. Read More

Urban exploration in Manchester

We use cities every day: their streets, benches, parks, buildings. But we never really know what’s behind their façades. The stories, told by derelict or abandoned buildings, distant places or the network of underground sewers and canals are documented by urban explorers. They dive into the past, all with their own motivations and expectations. What is this act of urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) and how is it being used?
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Media and the City – Seeking Participation in the Futureeverything Festival

Media and The City is the theme of this year’s group projects for the 2011/2012 Polis block in Manchester. The broad theme has given us (8 students with 3 small groups) creative licence as to what we can explore, research and present; with a specific look at Manchester and the myriad of mediums manifest in this city. The theme is purposely apt, due to the changes that have occurred in Manchester recently. This last year has seen the opening of the new BBC headquarters: Media City in Salford Quays. The move from what many perceived the BBC to be as a ‘Londoncentric’ institution to ‘The North’ has determined the decentralisation of the BBC. Only time will tell how it will change the landscape of Media in Manchester and perceptions of The North, as well as creating local jobs for local people and possible subsequent gentrification in areas of Salford – if at all!
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