Commuting: The Life Sentence

Austin Williams| 8 June 2004 The one aspect of the daily grind that is guaranteed to provoke an opinion is the commute to work. Congested roads, overcrowded trains, packed buses and sweaty tubes – it’s been said that if travel broadens the mind, commuting shrinks it back. Few would contest that the transport infrastructure is in a sorry state. But if the commuting experience is really so bad why do so many of us continue to do it? ...

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Dan Dare, or Dan Daren't

‘Future Visions: Future Cities’ Conference, London School of Economics, 6 December 2003 Reviewed by Dave Clements | 11 December 2003 The Future Visions: Future Cities conference,  supported by the Architects Journal, examined the role of the city through the prism of politics, culture and economics.  Future Visions: Future Cities (FV: FC) was billed as an exploration of ‘city visions: past and present’, taking on the...

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The Art of Travel

‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain De Botton; Penguin, 2003. 272pp Reviewed by Elisabetta Gasparoni-Abraham | 25 October 2003 This fascinating book, written by Alain De Botton, examines the diverse motives that moved great men of the past – like Charles Baudelaire and Edward Hopper, Gustave Flaubert, Alexander von Humbolt and William Wordsworth – to venture to new shores. He does this by juxtaposing their great...

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Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything

‘Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything’ by James Gleick; Abacus, 1999. 326pp Reviewed by Peter Smith | 25 July 2003 Faster is a quick paced, entertaining description of the spread of technology and its impact on our lives. Unlike other superficial accounts Gleick locates recent developments in consumer goods and information technology within a broader context of development, citing railroads and the telephone...

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Rocket Dreams

‘Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of a World Beyond’  by Marina Benjamin; Simon & Schuster, 2003. 242pp Reviewed by Martin Earnshaw | 27 June 2003  What became of our dreams of the aspirations that fuelled the ‘space age’ of the 50’s and 60’s? In this fascinating study Marina Benjamin takes on this problem in a fresh and innovative way. Rather than recount the familiar story of cut funds and scrapped...

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Where’s my Space Age?

‘Where’s my Space Age?’ by Sean Topham; Prestel, 2003, pp160 Review by Austin Williams | 31 July 2003 This fascinating book, written by Seam Topham (who’s recent book ‘Blow Up’ was reviewed in the Architects’ Journal), asks ‘whatever happened to the space age?’ Constructed in three parts, with a two-page conclusion at the end, the book examines the historical moment of space...

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The future of mobility

Three debates organised by the Transport Research Group at the Bloomberg Auditorium, London Reviewed by Dave Clements | June 2003 In this series of three debates we were asked to consider – are more cars a problem, do we need more infrastructure, and does mobility matter anyway? As Austin Williams, director of the Transport Research Group, noted in his address, transport policy has become a popular concern, and lost its former...

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Scared out of the sky

Peter Smith | 7 March 2003 Statistics that tell us we are 155 times more likely to die in a car crash than on an aeroplane have consistently failed to reassure a sizeable minority who are frightened of air travel (1).  Now, the air industry’s overreaction to terror threats is fuelling the post-9/11 fear of flying.  Stunts like the recent deployment of armed troops to most major UK airports and tanks to London Heathrow to guard...

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The Smoke clears

Austin Williams | 19 December 2002 In a recent Greater London Authority (GLA) publication, Ken Livingstone remembers the London fog of 1952. ‘Its main impact’, he says, ‘was that we didn’t have to go to school for a few days’ (1).  For an event that reputedly killed thousands of London residents, this might not seem the most empathetic response of the Mayor of London, but smogs were often treated as no...

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Areas of grave concern

Austin Williams | 23 Nov 2002 Why are children in poor neighbourhoods more at risk of traffic accidents?  In an article that originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Austin Williams investigates. Children in poor areas are at more risk of being knocked down by a car than those from more affluent areas. This is the startling conclusion to the latest Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) report, Streets Ahead: Safe and liveable...

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