Mobile version
spiked plus
About spiked
What is spiked?
Support spiked
spiked shop
Contact us
Summer school
Top issues
Arab uprisings
British politics
Child abuse panic
For Europe, Against the EU
Free speech
Jimmy Savile scandal
Parents and kids
View all issues...
special feature
The Counter-Leveson Inquiry
other sections
 Review of Books
 Monthly archive
selected authors
Duleep Allirajah
Daniel Ben-Ami
Tim Black
Jennie Bristow
Sean Collins
Dr Michael Fitzpatrick
Frank Furedi
Helene Guldberg
Patrick Hayes
Mick Hume
Rob Lyons
Brendan O’Neill
Nathalie Rothschild
James Woudhuysen
more authors...
RSS feed

abc def ghi jkl mno pqrs tuv wxyz index
Survey home
Survey responses
RSS feed
Anjana Ahuja
Julian Baggini
Philip Ball
Marlene Oscar Berman
Gustav VR Born
K Eric Drexler
Marcus Du Sautoy
Edmond H Fischer
John Hall
Tim Hunt
Wolfgang Ketterle
Leon Lederman
Matt Ridley
Raymond Tallis
Frank Wilczek
Lewis Wolpert
Professor John McKean
professor of architecture, University of Brighton

It’s just too difficult. I imagine what it might be as:

- I watch a pair of design students talking to each other half-way round the world both using light-pens to draw on ‘opposite sides’ of the screen in front of each, and an expert in a further corner of the globe commenting by videolink… 
-  I see architects fashioning forms from crumpled paper, which can be read and then replicated by machine, fifty times bigger in titanium without a problem… 
- I am an excited flaneur through the virtual responsiveness of YouTube and Wikipedia, and see all the material around me tend to become ordered following the Google algorithm of privileging the most popular.

In the end I guess the answer to your question is:
The domestication of dairy and meat animals through their slow genetic selection and similarly the development of agricultural staples through breeding and systems of artificial irrigation. This allowed architecture and thus urban as well as non-urban, sedentary life.

All sorts of more recent innovations, using increasingly clever technologies, are great boons to large groups in the world’s population.

But today the central Faustian pact with technology breaks a link between the long husbandry involved in the sustainable production of food and a healthy population of a sustainable size. This is fast removing for much of the world’s exploding population a quality of architecture and urban as well as non-urban life.

John McKean is author of The New Banister Fletcher: A Global Architectural History