Birmingham’s furthest outpost: Michel de Certeau and the strategies of Elan Village’s builders

 I was very fortunate recently to get to camp in one of the most beautiful spots in the country, in the Elan Valley, Powys. It's among the most sparsely-populated parts of the UK, falling within what John Henry Cliffe described as 'that great desert of Wales' as far back as 1860. Despite that descriptor, it's far from …

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“Slums” of the Black Country: Darlaston

I've ummed and aahed a bit about what to write about the Post's report on Darlaston. It's really the same old story: surface drainage, evils, abomination, bubbling and seething, stagnant, over-flowing, the cholera, back courts, and so on; there's not a lot to add compared to previous outrages at Oldbury or Bilston. Despite the fact that the journalist's …

Land of my fathers

I've been reading Henri Lefebvre's Rhythmanalysis lately. I'm no expert on continental philosophy or cultural theory really, so I've enjoyed this - it's light and possible to read in an impressionistic sort of way, glossing over all the Bachelards and Nietzsches, the Objects and Subjects. Lefebvre's key ideas throughout his career were around the 'everyday' - the mundane, …

Empty space

Warning again: I'm going to be talking Black Country history a little further down, but I've been interested in what maps do and don't show, so the preamble is a bit... vague and theoretical. Maps are complex beasts. They show what they show, for reasons their makers choose, and the inclusions and omissions can define a district. …

The Planner’s Eye

Heath Town Estate, Wolverhampton, by Smileyface on the Skyscraper City website. Click the pic for a link to some truly frightening pictures of the estate at its worst. Multi- and inter-disciplinary research is a major part of academia these days, and the benefits it can bring are clearly profound - to see something anew, in a …