What connects King Abdullah’s Economic City in Saudi Arabia to Stevenage in Hertfordshire? Or the city of Songjiang in China to Tema in Ghana? Each are new towns – planned places, quite different in their own way, but each sharing a DNA inspired by an agenda and set of ideals of what makes a place.
Controversy exists around the idea of new towns and place making from scratch. Contrived and created for a specific purpose, programme or more recently, a developer’s whim, a common criticism is that they too often lack the character of a place that is organic and sprung from a history of people and layers of tradition.
In history the Garden City Movement and the British Welfare state were both motivated by socio-economic and architectural drivers to create bold, new developments that took pride in tackling the complexities of city making and offering better living environments. Can these factors once again be a source of collective pride?
Launched last week, The Banality of Good, a new exhibition at 66 Portland Place, explores six international cities built between World War II and the present day. Curated by Dutch collective, the Crimson Architectural Historians and first shown at the Venice Biennale, it incorporates into large allegoric triptychs both the dreams and the realities of the towns to explore whether they can become the ‘Banality of Good.’
As part of the Spring Last Tuesday, Crimson Architectural Historians Dr Michelle Provoost led an introduction to the exhibition and with a packed Florence Hall a musical performance of ‘Brasilia’ by the singer, guitarist and author Mark Ritsema.
Showing until 10 May, 10am–5pm.