"Science is organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact". - Thomas Huxley

Little Atoms Live: Urban Renaissance? with Jonathan Meades & Will Alsop

Recorded Friday 19th November 2010 at The Free Word Centre.

Download show here

One of the central tenets of the New Labour project was “Urban Renaissance”. Our bleak inner cities cities would see “regeneration” via hi-tech, service industries and the creative arts, the catalyst often a landmark building, a new museum or gallery by a star architect. Meanwhile John Prescott's Pathfinder housing regeneration scheme set its sights on the vernacular Northern terrace. Soon we would all be living in luxury waterside apartment blocks, furnished by TV property gurus, and serviced by shiny new PFI funded hospitals and city academies. And then the crash came.

Would the “Bilbao Effect” really have worked in Barnsley? Is there an identifiable New Labour architectural style? Can we make creative use of the hundreds of half-finished speculative building projects that litter our cities? What does the Coalition, essentially a government of the Shires, have planned for our built environment?

Joining Neil Denny to discuss these questions and much more are the writer Jonathan Meades, and architect Will Alsop.

Jonathan Meades
Jonathan Meades was born and brought up in Salisbury. He spent four years at school in Taunton where he learnt about scrumpy and shirking. He subsequently went to RADA. He lived till 2006 in central London until 2006 when he moved to beyond the back of beyond near Bordeaux in order to devote himself to conversations about combine harvesters. He is the author of several books including three works of fiction - Filthy English, Pompey and The Fowler Family Business - and two anthologies of journalism Peter Knows What Dick Likes and Incest and Morris Dancing. He is currently working on a book entitled An Encyclopaedia of Myself.

Meades has written and performed in some 50 television shows on predominantly topographical subjects such as self-built shacks, the utopian avoidance of right angles, the lure of vertigo, the deleterious effects of garden cities, Birmingham's appeal, and the everyday surrealism of Belgium : some of these are available on The Jonathan Meades Collection DVD.

Magnetic North (2008) - a journey from Flanders to Helsinki - was described by Robert Hanks in The Independent as having ‘a sweep, an intellectual confidence and a sense of mischief you won't find anywhere else on TV. Meades is an artist of television.'

Will Alsop
Professor Will Alsop OBE Principal of WILL ALSOP AT RMJM. London, Toronto and Shanghai, is one of Britain's most renowned architects. Alsop has worked extensively across the UK and internationally with major projects in cities such as Toronto, Marseilles, Hamburg, Shanghai, Singapore and New York. Recent projects in the UK include the 'Chips' apartments in Manchester, and 'The Public' exhibition space in West Bromwich.

Will works across all sectors including transportation, health, education, retail, residential, office, public, hospitality, leisure and interiors. Famed for his bold and colourful approach to design, he has won many awards internationally, including the coveted Stirling Prize in 2000 for the Peckham Library in London. In addition to being a designer and artist, Will has held many academic posts including being a tutor of sculpture at Central St Martins College of Art & Design in London. He is currently a professor at the Technical University of Vienna.