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Notopia

‘Notopia is less a warning than a prophecy of doom’

If what is called the development of our cities is allowed to multiply at the present rate, then by the end of the century our world will consist of isolated oases of glassy monuments surrounded by a limbo of shacks and beige constructions, and we will be unable to distinguish any one global city from another.

‘This pandemic of generic buildings have no connection to each other, let alone to the climate and culture of their location.’

With apologies to our forebear Ian Nairn, upon this scourge The Architectural Review bestows a name in the hope that it will stick – NOTOPIA. Its symptom (which one can observe without even leaving London) is that the edge of Mumbai will look like the beginning of Shenzhen, and the centre of Singapore will look like downtown Dallas.

This thing of terror, which will wake you up sweating at night when you begin to realise its true proportions, consists in the universal creation of cities that are not human settlements, but places where capital investment lives in architecture devoid of social purpose. Notopia is where empty apartments and gated communities stand under guard while the homeless are not permitted even to sleep on the street, and are prodded or hosed down with water until they move on.

How did we get here? Is it too big a problem?

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The fall of streets in the sky

The three-dimensional city was undoubtedly naive, but the implications of its disappearance are profound
By Douglas Murphy

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Who is the city for?

London is becoming entirely unaffordable leading to a kind of hollowing out of the city which New Yorkers are long used to
By Anna Minton

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The copycat city and the rise of duplitecture
Lost monuments are built again and the work of starchitects copied: is this the new course of architectural evolution or thoughtless appropriation?
By Kevin Holden Platt

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The Singapore paradox and the style of Generic Individualism

Singapore has reached the crisis of its perfection
By Charles Jencks 

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The post-industrial hollowing out of cities is a tragedy for civic identity’
Many cities have been hollowed out due to the loss of industries that once gave them meaning, many of which are still struggling to form a new identity
By Jonathan Glancey