Alien it may be, both architecturally and conceptually in its material and abstract monolithicness; the fact remains that it has been done. City Hall! I love the feeling of being in City Hall; and above all of, (incredible for a European), just strolling in through the big glass doors past no security guards, no notices, no scanners; just past a single smiling girl at a desk and I have the acres of gleaming grey granite and marble to myself. Screens show unending visual expositions of the the nervous system of the city; traffic movement, pollution-readings, sewage, all the churning unphotogenic chaos of reality visible from the 60th floor transmuted into the pristine outlines, the sinuous chiaroscuro, the vivid, juicy colours of computer graphics.
Below is the lobby. And in this lobby is an elevation plan for the great Main Government Building Number One; and on the plan the space I am in it says: "Lobby for Metropolitan Citizens".
And as City Man I counted myself…in.
In London we are now attempting to recover an at least mental Lobby for Metropolitan Citizens. At least I had the satisfaction of seeing people think London, (not just, as per usual harping on about it being "a string of villages
It is nine in the morning on Saturday and there is a commotion in the street, I lean out still actually half in bed; it is Ken Livingstone's battle bus; and there he is on the open air upper deck waving; and dammit if I don't lean out and wave back. I have no intention of voting for him; but I am so moved at the idea of metropolis that I actually 'wave to Ken'; that's how badly I need it. I am slogging up the Old Kent Road against the wind; ten or so miles behind me, another four to do. The sinister bulks of the Heygate Estate approach; my guide to the architecture of London tells me that this estate "was used by the American critic Oscar Neuman to support his thesis that private or defensible space is necessary in housing design." Neuman claims, however that the heavy vandalization of this type of estate is due to lack of the defensible. The utopian architects of the 1960s no doubt had their own bit of defensible space, (a garden behind their Georgian house in Islington perhaps?) but the little people were to live communally.