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openDemocracy Political Books of the Year 2017
In a world where the built environment seems ever more shaped by invisible market forces, where modern architecture can seem to dissolve into a generic void, sometimes it takes a very special person to make a difference.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was Mayor of London from 2008 until 2016, during which time he took a remarkably keen interest in the built environment, commissioning, guiding, and shaping all manner of different projects. With his achievements he showed us all that massive privilege, leaping ambition, no concern for detail and a wasp’s attention span needn’t hold you back when it comes to creating terrible architecture.
Nincompoopolis examines the built legacy of Johnson’s tenure, from his embarrassing follies to the folly of his policies, and wonders if there’s anything that can be learned from letting someone like him have a go at one the world’s great cities.
Douglas Murphy is a writer and architect based in London. He is the author of the books Last Futures (Verso, 2016), a cultural history of the radical architecture of the 1960s and 70s, and The Architecture of Failure (Zero, 2012), which told the story of 19th century iron & glass architecture and its long influence on modernist culture. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art, and is currently Architecture Correspondent at Icon magazine. He writes for a wide range of publications on architecture, fine art and photography, and lectures widely.
“A passionate and well-argued demolition job.”