London is PNYX’s home city, and boasts a number of the types of architectural institutions mentioned above. But of the groups having the most profound effect on London’s architecture, few are either charitable organisations or schools. They are instead the likes of the Qatar Investment Authority and Sellar Property Group, the latter of which became the junior partner in its own project with the former to produce the Shard, or state institutions such Southwark Council. The multinational developer, and the local authority who fails to either mitigate or fully exploit their pursuits (depending on one’s point of view), are the players properly impacting the city’s architectural landscape. And as the city faces several ongoing crises, to which PNYX will turn its attention this year, the relationship between these players and the architecture of the city needs a critical eye more than ever.First among London’s crises is the acute housing shortage, due in part to arch neoliberal Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy initiative of the early 1980s, and inadequately addressed by subsequent governments ever since. As explored by the Housing London lecture series held at the AA over the past academic year, the crisis effects us all, not least because if the capital’s extortionate rent prices continue to rise, architects, designers, artists, and others involved in the creative industries, let alone those on society’s margins without even such platform, will no longer be able to afford to stay here. Pushed from the city, but still expected to service it, the experience of London’s poor is compromised, their voice is silenced, and London itself becomes a less democratic city. Even if architects and designers manage to stay here, is this the kind of city for which we want to design? What place do architects have in working with developers and local authorities to ameliorate or mitigate the effect of runaway gentrification, and its displacing effects on existing communities in London? Beyond jargon and platitudes, how do each of us, each with a stake in London, work critically and co-operatively to prevent the city becoming polarised before eventually emptying altogether? EUROPE
Beyond the scale of the city, London occupies a node in a much larger network: that of the EU. And much like London, Europe continues to face several major crises that threaten the ideas to which it aspires.Following the catastrophe of WW2, the central powers of Europe adopted supranational tendencies and formed organizations that sought to form a united political body that would assure peace and mutual prosperity. For post-war Europe the steps to unity would be start with the intercontinental resource market. In 1952 the Treaty of Paris signed by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). The ECSC was created in order to consolidate the coal and steel industries of the member countries into one unified market that would in essence prevent both the need for resource allocation to ammunitions and fractioning forces of competition. In the decades to come, further commercial and political unions would come into being, forming the complex of legislative bodies that would merge into the European Union. By 1992, following the collapse of the Eastern Block and the USSR, the Maastricht Treaty, or the Treaty on European Union, established the European Union proper, leading to the creation of the Euro currency, to be fully adopted and put in circulation a decade later. [caption id="attachment_4582" align="alignnone" width="360"] Left to right: the arms of the Greater London Council, the RIBA crest, the EU flag[/caption]
PNYX can be picked up at the AA Bar and around the rest of the school, Store St Espresso, Tender Books, and various other cafes in and around Bloomsbury.