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Monday, November 06, 2006
X-listing eyesores?
Over the weekend, I'm sure a lot of you read or heard about an idea from La Cameron's fave think-tank (the Policy Exchange) to x-list building s that 'the people' find ugly and demolish them. As almost everything the PE suggest seems to get made into Tory policy about a month later, this is one to spend a minute untangling.

From the Observer:
"The X-list manifesto, part of a collection of essays on a new 'green' approach to cities, admits that simply being ugly won't be enough to condemn a building to the wrecking ball. Candidates for destruction will also have to be uninhabited or unused, have 'a distressing and anti-social impact' and blight the local economy.

"Under the Policy Exchange plan, local residents would nominate urban architecture for X-listing. There would then be a three-month period for debate, a selection of a long list by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, and a final selection by an 'X-list jury' including architects, urban planners and developers. The aim, O'Shaughnessy says, is not just to watch buildings go boom, but to address 'political alienation' and urban blight by giving residents a greater sense of ownership over their surroundings. 'X-listing puts people first,' his essay argues, 'by giving them a direct say in shaping their environments.'"

Wow. First, CABE will think all the buildings that are nominated are modernist masterpieces, against the will of the unwashed masses who think Gropius is something perverts do in the park. Secondly - addressing political alienation by allowing people to topple buildings? Bread and circuses, anyone?

The whole thing should, of course, feature televised live gladiatorial battles between 'traditionalists' and 'modernists' over whether New Zealand House is nice or 'distressing'. Or, of course, it could be the conduit for interesting local debate over the value of the built environment, conflicting readings of urban space, and the promotion of a shared understanding of local identity accompanied by fairy cakes and tea. Feeling cynical today, would rather see the former.


Anonymous ben patio said...

I particularly enjoyed O'Shaughnessy's own nomination: Battersea Power Station.

5:43 pm  

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