Alain de Botton: "London is Becoming a Bad Version of Dubai"
"London is on the verge of being ruined for all future generations," says Alain de Botton – a Swiss philosopher, notable author and founder of The School of Life and Living Architecture. "With a whopping 260 towers in the pipeline no area is safe, as planners, property developers and the mayor's office commit crimes against beauty to create fun buildings." In a film for The Guardian De Botton explains why he believes we're right to be nervous – and how we can stop this "clear desecration" of the UK's capital city.
I coud't agree more with what Alain de Botton is saying. London is being sold out and the city is loosing it's own identity, all for the namesake of capitalism, in order to last against this permanent crisis. Architecture must 'heal' the cities, not make them giant objects of fashion and 'trendiness' as what happens in Dubai. True architecture is made to last for centuries, not the fashion and passing architecture that is made nowadays. But nobody cares about true architecture, what is needed is something fashion, symbolizing the consumerism, to feed the capitalism. In a 'less negative' way (if we can consider that), we can say that London is becoming something like 'a New York in Europe'.
It isn't a skyline that makes a city great, it is the streets. And London has some of the greatest streets to be found. London (and every city in the world) should be less concerned with what highrise buildings look like in the skyline and more of how they look on the bottom 8 floors and how those floors look and interact with the existing streets.
They should require new towers to have a pedestal of 8 or so floors that reflects nicely with the current streetscape and interacts with it. Above that require a small setback and let them build any garish thing they want above that line.
"But architecture should, when it's going right, never be fun." ... I dare say NO Yes is more, I have been to the "8 house" in Copenhagen and it is really fun! What architecture should never be is egotistic: from any perspective a building should be useful and integrated BEFORE being "fun". The opinion of this video is also biased because it sounds like it has the monopoly of what is beautiful architecture. I find that some of the buildings that are cited as an example of "ugly" buildings actually give a plus value to London (e.g. the "60 mary axe" and the "armadillo" ) It is about balance and urban composition.
The biggest issue I have with the new residential skyscrapers in London is that the apartments mostly stay empty. They are purchased before the tower is even built by multi-millionaires who never even step foot in their unit. The same thing is happening in NYC.
What we need is useful housing. I don't care if that means luxury units are built and everyone trades up or if middle to low end housing is built to fill the needs of people in those incomes, but if money is being used to build housing units, then those units should be occupied.
Really? I think the diversity is amazing. Merely mimicking the old buildings generates a boring city. We're in the 21st century, let there be innovation! Let there be drama! I lives nearby for one year and never heard of anyone saying the Shard or the City Hall destroyed the city's skyline. London has done great so far as modernizing itself without losing its genius loci, its essence. I think the opinion expressed in this video is a bit narrow minded. Yes, I agree that some of the new buildings are just ugly, but most of them are amazing. And to build many 8 storey buildings, you need to demolish MANY houses. A tower takes less space, leaving more parts of the original city, what they're most concerned with in the video, intact.
A Walkie Talkie is the most beautiful of the London building, as is good to display alternative to what is considered respected architecture styles but good when because it something different therefore unique so it is not bad. When will UK kingdom deport the Swiss gentleman?
You can't create a city with buildings that are not a part of that city, but prescribing one scale of buildings wouldn't necessarily create more sense. Fine tuning of buildings architecture is in my point of view something that needs to be supervised by an elaborate city plan, a vision that determines the development of London in the future. Based on this individual decisions can be made. Maybe high-rise combined with nature could create green lines for cyclists trough the city supplementing a dense low rise street pattern. There are many options to create consistent beautiful cities for people with the right vision and rules but without it cities just sprawl.
Either way more housing stock must be built, I can see anything wrong with a few glitzy apartment towers. Perhaps more scrutiny just needs to be applied to each individual design, in order to achieve aesthetically improved outcomes. Maybe all future proposals can be assessed by Mr de Botton himself?