Paper thunderbolts attached to rope are used to purify a sacred tree

What Japan’s Holy City, Ise, can tell us about how to create environmentally sustainable cities

It was when the city’s Mayor Kenichi Suzuki began his speech by opening the window and asking if we “can hear the crickets?” that I realised this wasn’t a “normal” city. Here, in Japan’s City of Shinto, I experienced a form of environmental culture, over 1,000 years old, that penetrated policy, industry, design and everyday life. Where concepts such as “locally sourced”, “circular economy”, “long-termism”, “conservation”, “restoration” and “sustainability” had become instinct. Where planning in tree lifespans is as natural as planning in one’s own. …

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, William Whyte Jr, 1980

In architecture school I wrote a dissertation arguing that urban design was no longer happening within the offices of architects, planners, and engineers, but within the lines of code written by small clusters of software engineers in California. My 21 year old self was both apprehensive and excited by this idea.

I proposed architects and urban designers start engaging with this new reality; that it was ludicrous that those now altering our experience of cities in ways more profound than any planner could have dreamed, were in no way qualified, or responsible, for doing so. …

Praca do Comercio, Lisbon, 17/03/2020 (image source:

Last year Mark Zuckerberg described Facebook as “the digital equivalent of a town square”.

At first sight, it makes sense:

Is Facebook not a place where the public gather? Is the scroll not the digital equivalent of the stroll? Is a troll not a drunk looking for a fight?

The recent experience of walking through an empty city square — evacuated as a result of Covid-19 — offered a real-world experience of Facebook’s town square. An entire square seen through your eyes only. If you were to shout, your voice would echo. A city square to yourself.

The Facebook feed…

From National Portfolio Organisations to National Portfolio Artists

Last year I returned to my high school — a state comprehensive in Ipswich — to deliver a talk titled “What is an Artist?”.

Before I went on, my old art teacher pulled me to one side. She pleaded with me to try and convince these 300+ teenagers that there was value in studying art. She told me that the number of students taking GCSE art was falling, as parents became convinced that no career lay at the end of it.

Whilst I will always argue for the “value” in studying art — both in terms of personal development, as…

Crowds at the unveiling ceremony for the statue of Edward Colston in 1895. The statue was devised and primarily funded by one individual — wealthy businessman James Arrowsmith — after failing to attract wider public support. Image and history provided by Roger Ball, Bristol Radical History Group

A response to Boris Johnson

“We cannot now try to edit or censor our past. We cannot pretend to have a different history. The statues in our cities and towns were put up by previous generations. They had different perspectives, different understandings of right and wrong. But those statues teach us about our past, with all its faults. To tear them down would be to lie about our history, and impoverish the education of generations to come.” Boris Johnson, Twitter, (June 12th, 2020)

A statue is a public celebration — of a life or lives. It is the most basic unit of public art.

Matthew Rosier

Artist creating public art installations in cities around the world

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