Move over Poundbury: buy a house at ‘The Village at Hiddenbrooke‘, the critically-reviled development that ‘translates [Thomas] Kinkade’s artistry into a neighborhood of extraordinary design and quality’, designed by William Hezmalhalch Architects. If only Britain’s best-known artist-architect, Will Alsop, could come up with such a symbolically-loaded artwork: ‘To suggest the moment of Bambi’s empowerment, I positioned him on a rocky precipice overlooking the terrain of his kingdom and the four seasons of his first year. If you look closely, Bambi’s self-sacrificing mother can be seen, as a half hidden image upon the distant mountain. Truly, a mothers love, like the spirit of the mighty mountains, will guide a son forever.’
No-one is seriously accusing the residents of Poundbury, or even the light-addled occupiers of Kinkade’s model village, of living in a true fantasy world. But any instant community contains a strong element of role-playing, whether it be the mock Holland of Belgia, the Ironwork Lofts in Colorado (previously), or Shanghai’s infamous Thames Town. These spaces go beyond the rather unscientific social engineering inherent in any new town, using an artificial backstory – be it real or imaginary – to bond its residents together.
The new Wizarding World of Harry Potter uses one of the most celebrated backstories of modern times. Architecturally tricksy, and pitched at amusement park visitors, not permanent residents (the apparently monumental Hogwart’s Castle is little more than a trick of perspective, a cunning trick that developers would do well to emulate when it comes to imprinting their new fantasy communities with an iconic, pseudo-historic presence), the Wizarding World points to a future of imagineered dwellings, cut and paste communities that have more akin with the world of the Sims than the traditional community.
Art by Barry Sykes / the book as fetish object: Conrad Bakker’s Untitled Project, at public things, ‘is a simulated bookshop made of hundreds of hand carved and painted copies of used paperback books from the 1960’s and 1970’s’. / a fine piece on the equally fine Tournament of Books, making literary inroads around the globe. Move over Richard and Judy / Charles Bell’s Illustrations of the Great Operations, from the days when surgery was very much a last resort / a font based on a Volvo – definitely one for Cartype / The Boombox Project, a visual timeline by photographer Lyle Owerko.