Urban spaces

A region transformed

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The Arab Spring has been marked by a series of momentous events that herald the beginning of an era of revolutionary change. The uprisings have transformed in weeks and months a region mired in decades of political stagnation. The revolutions contain the possibility of growing over to an even more radical social change. To understand this potential we have to examine the deep social changes that have transformed the Arab world, but this requires breaking with many of the ideas that have dominated our understanding of the region.

For many people the Arab revolutions are simply a "correction" in the struggle against imperialism. The overthrow of Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Ali Saleh of Yemen have struck deep blows to imperialism. The uprising in Bahrain, which pits a disenfranchised population against a US and Saudi client regime, is seen in the same light.

Creating cities without imagination

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New Labour placed great emphasis on urban regeneration, but with deeply conflicting results. Owen Hatherley spoke to Alan Kenny and Jack Farmer about his new book and Britain's ruinous architecture.


Owen Hatherley

How did growing up in Southampton affect your view of architecture?

Urban Inspiration

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"The rich may have to live in gated communities while the poor roam the world outside those few enclaves," said Branko Milanovic from the Development Research Group at the World Bank in 2002. Taking a visit to any major city in Britain will show you this process in action.

This process is particularly acute in East London as the City bonuses continue to soar, and the Olympic juggernaut comes closer. While little social housing is built, everyday it seems that a new luxury gated development goes up alongside the council estates and run down markets and shopping streets. With names like "Tequila Wharf", "Zenith e14" or "2N1" and facilities such as private cinemas, all encased while building work goes on, in bright hoardings, where young professionals smile down on us, flushed with success.

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