Jonathan Meades on London

Jonathan Meades is cultural commentator and TV personality of asperity, wit and eccentricity. Here is part of his review of Rowan Moore's Slow Burn City: London in the Twenty-First Century. 

"London's architecture has become laughably boorish, confidently uncouth and flashily arid. Neomodern bling and meretricious trash are the current norms. Without exception, big-name architects turn out to be horizontals who happily put their knees behind their ears at the first sight of an oligarch, a Gulf princeling, a Central Asian dictator, a modern slave-driver or a property swine, while lecturing us on sustainability, low emissions, affordability, bicycles, ethical regeneration and whatever other right-on shibboleths are in the air this week. London is a magnet for a caste of designers who seem hardly to notice that the milieu they inhabit is chasmically remote from the lives of those affected and afflicted by their creations. It is the city - sorry, global city - where reputations built through decades of imagination and toil, strict image control and rigorous PR are frittered away in a blizzard of self-parody and voracious cupidity. The tectonic gerontocrats Rogers, Vinoly, Piano, Foster, Nouvel, Shuttleworth and so on are apparently locked in a competition to vandalise the sky with banality. There are outsiders in there too, architectural practices that, all too evidently never had a reputation to lose - for instance, the incompetents culpable of the Strata building in Elephant and Castle, or those at Broadway Malyan, whose destruction of Vauxhall  deprived London of valuable terrain vague. A few hundred metres west, the ineffable Gehry has his head in the corpse of Battersea Power Station Iike a vulture in a lamb's ribcage."


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