Mass: Future Deleted
'I remember Birmingham being the epitome of modernity… Birmingham was the future - in a sense it has been the future, but that bit of the future is worn out now and we need a new one'
Will Alsop, [architect]
The Ruins of the Future.
The future once seemed to belong to Birmingham, the ‘city of tomorrow’ that embraced utopian visions of modernist urban planning in the middle of the twentieth century: it bulldozed historic urban fabrics and built high-rise towers, it dedicated itself to the motor car and pressed pedestrians into subways, it championed mass production and the rational engineering of urban community. Since the 1970s, of course, Birmingham has been closely identified with the failures of the modernist project. As this urbanism became discredited so Birmingham became the British symbol of its social and aesthetic failures, a dystopian lesson in urban decline. Whether figured as utopian or dystopian, Birmingham’s transatlantic modernity (it is the most American-looking of all British cities) is characterised by its commitment to waves of creative destruction: compulsively levelling and rebuilding the urban landscape in the image of an imagined urban future.
Taken from: 'Remaking Birmingham, the Visual Culture of Urban Regeneration'
by William Kennedy [Professor of American Studies, University College, Dublin.]
A portfolio of this work is held within Birmingham Library Photographic Archives permanent collection.
The Future Deleted Book:
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Video of Masshouse Circus via the number 14 bus circa 1987: