things magazine / about / what's new? / archive / photos / projects / order / rss / search
photography from the pre-flickr era
projects, scans and collections
Where is things 19/20?
What is things magazine?
The Pelican Project
thingsmagazine.tumblr.com
external links
0lll
2 or 3 things I know
aalog
actar
adam curtis
agence eureka
aggregat 4/5/6
alice the architect
all about nothing (x)
all things considered (x)
alphaville
alttext
ambit magazine
anarchitecture
and another thing
anti-mega
apothecary's drawer
arcspace
arch daily
archinect
archidose
archiveteam
architects' journal
architect's newspaper blog
architectural review
architectural ruminations
architecture.mnp
archnewsnow
arkitektur
art fag city
art is everywhere
art newspaper
arts journal
artnotes
ashleyb
atelier a+d
ateliermob
atlas (t)
atlas obscura
badaude
bad british architecture
bifurcated rivets
the big picture
blanketfort
bldg blog
blissblog
b'blog of 'israeli
boing boing
b******* to architecture
books from finland
booooooom
bottom drawer (x)
bouphonia
bowblog
bradley's almanac
buchanansmith
butterpaper
cabinet magazine
cabinet of wonders
candyland (x)
cartoonist (the)
cartype
caterina
city of sound
city comforts
collision detection
conscientious
continuity in architecture
coromandal
core77
coroflot
cosmopolitan scum
coudal
creative review blog
curious expeditions
daily jive
dancing bears (x)
daniel eatock
dark roasted blend
david thompson
death by architecture
delicious
delicious ghost
deputy dog (x)
derelict london
designboom
design bivouac
design observer
dezain
dezeen
diamond geezer
digitally distributed environments
diskant
efimera
eliot shepard
ephemera
excitement machine
eye of the goof
fantastic journal
fed by birds
feuilleton
ftrain
fireland
first drafts
five foot way
Ffffound!
further
future feeder
gadgets.fosfor.se
gapers block
giornale nuovo
greg
grow-a-brain
haddock
halvorsen
hat projects
hchamp
hello beautiful!
hot wheels
htc experiments
hyperkit
hyperreal and supercool
i like
iconeye.com
incoming signals
infinite thought
inhabitat
the interior prospect
irregular orbit
iso50
jean snow
joe moran's blog
josh rubin
judit bellostes
kanye west
kazys
keep left london
kosmograd
kottke
landliving
languagehat
largehearted boy
last plane to jakarta
lewism
life without buildings
lightningfield (x)
limited language (x)
literary saloon
loca london
london architecture diary
london review of books
low tech magazine
made by machines for people
made in china '69
magCulture
making light
mananarama
map room
material world
mcsweeneys
men's vogue daily
metafilter
metafilter projects
microkhan
militant esthetix
millennium people
mimoa
miss representation
mocoloco
moosifer jones' grouch
monocle
monoscope
mountain 7
mrs deane
music thing (x)
myrtle street
netdiver
no, 2 self
nothing to see here
noisy decent graphics
noticias arquitectura
NTK
nyclondon
obscure store
obsessive consumption
one plus one equals three
oobject
open brackets (x)
ouno design
overmorgen (x)
panopticist
parenthetically's
partIV (x)
pcl linkdump
the peel tapes
perpenduum
personism
platforma arquitectura
plasticbag (x)
pointingit (x)
polar intertia
plep
print fetish
quiet feather (x)
raccoon
rashomon
re: design news
reference library
rock, paper, shotgun
rodcorp
rogue semiotics
rolu
rossignol
rotational
route 79
russell davies
sachs report
salon
samuel pepys' diary
school of life
scrubbles
segal books
sensing architecture
sensory impact
sesquipedalist
sevensevennine
shape and colour
sharpeworld
shift
shorpy
sit down man, you're...
slow web
snopes
space and culture
spambot_stopper
speak up
spillway
spitting image
strange attractor
strange harvest
strange maps
strawdogs
subterranea britannica
subtopia
sugar-n-spicy
supercolossal
superspatial
swapatorium
swiss miss
tecnologia obsoleta
tecznotes
telstar logistics
tesugen
textism
that's how it happened
the art of where
the deep north
the letter
the model city
the moment blog
the morning news
the nonist
the northern light
the one train
the serif
the silver lining
the white noise revisited
they rule
things to look at
this isn't London
tom phillips
tomorrow's thoughts today
transpontine
turquoise days (x)
typographica
urban cartography
urbantick
vitamin q
voyou desoeuvre
vwork
wallpaper
we make money not art
we will become
weblogs.com
weburbanist
where (x)
white noise of everyday life
wikipedia
wikio
witold riedel
whole lotta nothing
wood s lot
wrong distance
xblog


weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Saturday, December 08, 2007


Jessica Francis Kane's The Rules is a very contemporary evocation of the uncertainty and uneasiness we have about the relationship between the city and the child. The unease of the modern parent is made all the more bitter by our half-remembered nostalgia of our own childhoods, which are naturally empty of parental anxiety, coupled with the even more idyllic pasts referenced in popular culture, where freedom to wander, play and observe the adult world without any interference or questions is apparently a universal right.

The flipside, then and now, is the spectre of roaming, near-feral children undermining the sense of community and public decency. In Britain, the evolution of ASBO culture has helped define a hapless generation. The nebulous - often wholly justified, often not - definition of 'anti-social behaviour' means that huge swathes of classic children's literature read like treatises for truancy and paeans to parental neglect; the roaming Outlaws in Just William, the scruffy, fatherless family in Five Children and It, the train-baiting teens in The Railway Children, the child-alone-in-the-city subtext of Catherine Storr's Polly and the Wolf.

These fictional spaces act a powerful mental utopia, creating the impression that the world was a playground for children, with adults largely absent. Colin Ward's 1978 The Child in the City (from where the above image was taken) was a celebration of children's life on the street, their games, interactions and relationships with the fast-changing city. There are more images at this Japanese page on traditional children's street games, which includes the work of Iona and Peter Opie (see also things 9). Many of the images and scenes appear not just archaic, but threatening, as our feel for what it means to be free in the context of the city changes with age.

This isn't a new phenomenon. Graham Greene's haunting short story The Destructors (1954) captures anxiety about youth run amok in the post-war landscape, as a gang of children resolve to destroy the house of their nemesis. "'Wren built that house, father says.' 'Who's Wren?' 'The man who built St Paul's.' 'Who cares?' Blackie said. 'It's only Old Misery's.'" And later:

"The kitchen was a shambles of broken glass and china. The dining-room was stripped of parquet, the skirting was up, the door had been taken off its hinges, and the destroyers had moved up a floor. Streaks of light came in through the closed shutters where they worked with the seriousness of creators - and destruction after all is a form of creation. A kind of imagination had seen this house as it had now become."

Now the spaces of play are highly designed, neat little self-contained worlds of structured complexity and elaborate colours and forms. The reason? We want proscribed spaces for children now, rather than allow them free reign of public space where they are both threatened (or become the threat itself). These firewalled zones are being joined by branded virtual spaces (recently lambasted by Lord Puttnam), where adventure and discovery is carefully controlled and closely linked to consumption. Adult nostalgia blinds us to these new realities, allowing us to indulge in fond remembrance of our past while keeping a tight grip on the present day.

*

Related to the above, an incredible flickr set of life at Riverside School in Thamesmead, circa 1976 to 1978. One of the largest post-war housing complexes in the UK, Thamesmead was a sprawling complex of concrete walkways. Not notorious enough to be reviled, the estate had a rare cameo as a sun-kissed urban utopia in the 1996 film Beautiful Thing, and is now seen as one of the jumping off points for the Thames Gateway development. Another image from the same set: playground. Risk management has changed.

*

Spacing Toronto / PrarieMod and Pacific Northwest Regional Architecture, two region-specific architecture weblogs, both via ecAr, a tumble log / the sordid saga of the Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney; finally, the architect's point of view (which is absolutely not good enough for the community activists) / the DeLorean Bus concept, an 'Americanized' design that might have changed our perception of the DeLorean name for ever more.