Tales of Future Past v2

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Tomorrow's Skyline

Future City > Tomorrow's Skyline

When you're talking about the skyline of tomorrow, you're up against two schools of thought. The first is that of the "serious" architects -- the sort Modernist dreamers that did away with all that bourgeois ornamentation and obsolete classical nonsense in favour of good, clean lines suitable for the enlightenment of the proletariat who didn't know what was good for them.

They loved to plop down great slabs of brick that were cities unto themselves in vast plains of concrete dotted with trees that gave no shade, marble benches that no human being could sit comfortably on, steps that were so wide and low that they made you walk like a duck, and nothing to give any pedestrian any protection from the elements. In the summer you roasted under the sun and in the winter you froze in the raw northern winds. But it gave the paperboard models a wonderful sense of perspective.

It's all horrible, so why do it?  Because it was all so anti-bourgeois and it was the sort of place where, in the words of Alexi Sayle, "They expected working class people to wander around discussing Chekhov."

The other school came from the wild and free imaginations of the pulp magazine artists. These underpaid, underappreciated toilers in the fields of lurid fiction weren't concerned about making a great social statement in steel and glass, but in meeting their deadlines and collecting their meagre fees. Their school wasn't an allegiance to Bauhaus or Dada, but to spectacle, unbridled enthusiasm -- and rocket ships on the roof.

The pulp cities could be as frighteningly inhuman as anything to come from the drawing boards of "proper" architects, but pulp had one great advantage: they were exciting. They were cities where Adventure lurked, where anything could happen, and where you at least got a great  view of the sky bridges as Blackie Ben tossed you out of the 200th story window of Atomic Towers

In other words, what the pulp school of future architecture offered was Romance, and that's something we've been sorely lacking of late.

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