Sunday, October 30, 2011

Alternative Endings

Over at Entschwindet and Vergeht, Douglas Murphy has a really very interesting post about a building and an event that I had never heard of. The Summerland entertainment complex on the Isle of Mann nearly burnt down in a horrendous fire in the 1970's. Douglas' post touches on a whole range of things that I've written about here before including the idea of artificial, controlled environments, endless megastructures, compressed geographies, technological failure and the architecture of escape.

Douglas also suggests that Summerland can be seen as an allegory for the end of Modernism, an alternative to that other well-known crime scene Pruit Igoe. Coincidentally over at Strange Harvest, Sam has published an amazing set of photos of the ruins of Pruit Igoe, the site now almost completely erased by vegetation.

A third, alternative, ending for modernism is posited by David Knight in his excellent analysis of Post Modern urbanism in this month's Architecture Today. Intriguingly, David grounds the rejection of modernist spatial planning within the mileu of 1970's London as described in Jon Savage's punk history England's Dreaming. 

David's essay also contains one of the more thoughtful and informed descriptions of the work of Venturi and Scott Brown, which allows me to gratuitously mention a short piece I wrote for Building Design last week arguing for the couple to be awarded the RIBA's Gold Medal. Venturi and Scott Brown are nominated for the award pretty much every year and pretty much every year they get rejected. This is clearly ridiculous given the enormity of their contribution to architectural culture and only succeeds in highlighting British architecture's hopeless parochialism. You can read my argument (and Jack Pringle's reposte) here.


David Knight said...

Thanks for the commentary on my essay Charles, much appreciated.

Though 'England's Dreaming' is clearly useful here, the work by Jon Savage which I use in the piece is actually from the catalogue of 'Goodbye to London':

Charles Holland said...

Hi David, apologies for getting it wrong but thanks for the correct link. Goodbye to London looks really interesting too....