Great piece by Wouter Vanstiphout about the relationship between urban politics and urban design on the one hand, and concentrations of marginality, violence and riots on the other.
“It is much too soon to say anything about the relationship between the gentrification of Brixton, or the coming of the Olympics to London, and the current explosion of violent alienation. But if we imagine another kind of urban politics, one that does not take into account a marketable image of the city, but the reality of the entire community, it would probably have entirely different priorities.
The first would be to work against the ever sharpening inequality of London, making it one of the unfairest cities in Europe, in poverty levels, education, crime and other indicators.
But then the reality of urban riots is that they have always turned out to be the opposite of a learning experience for a city. Riots have nearly always resulted in politicians simplifying the problem even more, and citizens looking away even further.
After a riot your average city will become more afraid, more authoritarian, more segregated, more exclusive and less tolerant. That is the real tragedy of the post-war western urban riot, first it shocks and terrifies us, then for a moment it makes us see flashes of the kind of city we should be working towards, which then fades away into the darkness. Back to normal.”