Disposable student flats show where urban planning has gone wrong: Bird Lovegod

Why are our cities not beautiful? There are plenty of before and after slides showing towns, buildings, even details such as drainpipes. Before they were beautiful. Now they are ugly.

At best they are ‘utilitarian’ designed to work and no love added. I know it’s about cost, and saving money, as is everything, but, tedious as it is to point this out, it’s a false economy even by economic standards, and that’s ignoring the fact that reducing everything to a balance sheet is literally a sure fire way to despoil the planet and destroy humanity.

Given that we are here on Earth for a short time, should we not make beautiful things?

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Traditionally artists tried and often succeeded to make beauty. It’s actually very difficult, by far the hardest of aesthetics to achieve, so modern artists instead often resort to being ‘clever’ which is far easier. It’s as if beauty is old fashioned, passe, and no longer relevant. Guess again.

Bird Lovegod has his sayBird Lovegod has his say
Bird Lovegod has his say

It’s actually a barometer of our spiritual welfare. Have you ever seen an ugly Church? Have you been to York Minster, and seen what a beautiful building can actually be?

Extraordinary, powerful, awe inspiring, millions of people travel to see it and be in its presence. Church buildings are almost never ugly, I know of only one that might qualify, it’s a concrete brutalist facade built in the 70s by an architect with a ‘clever idea’.

Other than that one example, churches are almost always beautiful. Why is that?

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It’s because they are built to honour God, and as such, are designed with love, care, passion, and an eye for beauty. It says a lot about modern building design that they honour cost savings and profit. It says a lot about the people, and the system, and how far they have fallen.

Architecture has gone right downhill in the last few centuries. Houses built 100 years ago are better than the snag-riddled abodes hauled up by developers today. How many houses built today will even last a hundred years?

Buildings today are not designed to last. It’s been that way for the last half a century. Look at the towers of student accommodation thrown up in Sheffield, do you think they’ll exist in 100 years? These days no one cares that far ahead. They’re disposable buildings, built for an era of disposable values and disposable vapes.

How hard can it be, really, to create beautiful buildings, and beautiful places to live? It’s not that difficult. Just add as much nature as possible. Build it around nature. Build nature into it. Everything in nature is beautiful. Everything.

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Mankind is capable of creating beauty but instead chooses money as the measure of success. Such a base, crass, soulless method of value. Reductive in the extreme. Our city centres could be and should be beautiful. And guess what, if they were, people would go there, and shop there, and enjoy spending time there, and that would solve the problem of urban decline. Make It Beautiful. That’s the only brief the town planners need to have and give. Make It Beautiful. And when developers want to throw up another soulless block of offices, tell them. Make It Beautiful. And if they cannot, tell them to go away until they can. It should be part of the design. It has to be waterproof. It has to not fall down. It has to be beautiful.

If developers and architects can’t achieve that, when their predecessors of centuries past could, they need to seriously look at their profession and wonder what it lost to become so dull of heart.

Bird Lovegod is a Christian commentator and business consultant