David has just taken over as 'honorary editor' of the Journal, and has produced a wonderful new issue. The London Society itself has been around since 1912, but despite being fairly influential in the first half of the twentieth century, it had begun to fade into near-obscurity since, almost disappearing altogether. However, Peter Murray, David and others recently banded together to breathe life back into the Society, with the Journal one of the first outcomes.
It's a very entertaining and well-balanced first issue, and beautifully put-together. It opens with a supremely well-judged and informed piece on London and mapping, by Mr Adam Greenfield, and closes out with me, Hugo Macdonald, Leo Hollis, and David himself.
In between, highlights include an interview with Margaret Newman, Executive Director of the Municipal Art Society of New York, a great reflection on London and sound, by John Bingham-Hall, and a suggestion of 'a new suburban vernacular' for London, by Ben Derbyshire, accompanied by some rather lovely illustrations; plus, an interview with Sophie Camburn of Arup, regarding their work in Tottenham 'after the riots', and much more. Some fine photo-essays break up the text, and Jonathan McKay's art direction is pretty much pitch-perfect.
All in all, although this is issue #466 of the journal, it's a great new thing. Congrats to David and team.
I was asked to address the relationship between the masterplan and London, between the planner's ego, and this city's pattern of development. Given that, I initially wrote the piece around an architect apparently without ego, the great Charles Holden, reflecting on his barely-realised plan for Bloomsbury, and the University of London (Senate House, about which I've written before, is the only real outcome of what was a much larger scheme.) In the edit, the Holden section faded somewhat, to be replaced by a concern over the wave of tall towers about to hit London instead, most of which look to have considerably less grace than Senate House, and rather more impact, given their easy verticality.
Below, I'm posting the longer original edit, with the Senate House middle-eight intact. Do pick up the Journal, though, as it's typeset with a little more care, and actually edited.