Kidbrooke Village: Our Vision for Your Future

A Non-Place in the Making

‘If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place. Supermodernity produces non-places, meaning spaces which are not themselves anthropological places and which, unlike modernity, do not integrate the earlier places: instead they are listed, classified, promoted to the status of “places of memory”, and assigned to a circumscribed and specific position. Place and non-place are like opposed polarities: the first is never completely erased, the second never totally completed; they are like palimpsests on which the scrambled game of identity and relations is ceaselessly rewritten. But non-places are the real measure of our time.’

Designed for Life

‘The space of non-place creates neither singular identity nor relations; only solitude and similitude. There is no room there for history unless it has been transformed into an element of spectacle, usually in allusive texts. What reigns there is actuality, the urgency of the present moment. Since non-places are there to be passed through, they are measured in units of time. Everything proceeds as if space had been trapped by time, as if there were no history other than the last forty-eight hours of news, as if each individual history were drawing its motives, its words and images from the inexhaustible stock of an unending history in the present.’

Signs & Directions

‘The real non-places of supermodernity – the ones we inhabit when we are driving down the motorway, wandering through the supermarket or sitting in an airport lounge waiting for the next flight – have the peculiarity that they are defined partly by the words and texts they offer us: their “instructions for use”, which may be prescriptive (“Take right-hand lane”), prohibitive (“No parking”) or informative (“You are now entering Kidbrooke Village”). Sometimes these are couched in more or less explicit and codified ideograms (on road signs, maps and tourist guides), sometimes in ordinary language. This establishes the traffic conditions of spaces in which individuals are supposed to interact only with texts, whose proponents are not individuals but “moral entities” or institutions (commercial companies, traffic police, municipal councils); sometimes their presence is explicitly stated (“The council is working to improve your living conditions”), sometimes it is only vaguely discernible behind the injunctions, advice, commentaries and “messages” transmitted by the innumerable “supports” (signboards, screens, posters) that form an integral part of the contemporary landscape.’

Landscapings

‘In the world of supermodernity people are always, and never, at home: the frontier zones no longer open onto totally foreign worlds. Supermodernity naturally finds its full expression in non-places. Words and images in transit through non-places can take root in the still diverse places where people still try to construct part of their daily life. What is seen by the spectator of modernity is the interweaving of old and new. Supermodernity, in contrast, makes the old – makes history – into a specific spectacle, as it does with all exoticism and local particularity. History and exoticism play the same role in it as “quotations” in a written text. In the non-places of supermodernity, there is always a specific position (in the window, on a poster, to the right of the screen, on the left of the motorway) for “curiosities” presented as such.’

Village Hall

‘In the concrete reality of today’s world, places and spaces, places and non-places intertwine and tangle together. The possibility of non-place is never absent from any place. Place becomes a refuge to the user of non-places (who may dream, for example, of owning a second home in the depths of the countryside).’

Roads & Pavements

‘Places and non-places are opposed (or attracted) like the words and notions that enable us to describe them. But the fashionable words – those that did not exist thirty years ago – are associated with non-places. Thus we can contrast the realities of transit (transit camps or passengers in transit) with those of residence or dwelling; the interchange (where nobody crosses anyone else’s path) with the crossroads (where people meet); the passenger (defined by his destination) with the traveller (who strolls along his route); the housing estate, where people do not live together and which is never situated in the centre of anything (big estates characterise the so-called peripheral zones or outskirts), with the monument where people share and commemorate; communication (with its codes, images and strategies) with language (which is spoken).’

1, 2 and 3-Bedroom Luxury Apartments: £412,500, £540,000 and £770,000

‘A world where people are born in a clinic and die in a hospital, where transit points and temporary abodes are proliferating under luxurious or inhuman conditions (hotel chains and squats, holiday clubs and refugee camps, housing estates threatened with demolition or doomed to decaying longevity); where a dense network of means of transport which are also inhabited spaces is developing; where the frequent users of supermarkets, laptop computers and credit cards communicate wordlessly, through gestures, with an abstract, unmediated commerce; a world thereby surrendered to solitary individuality, to the fleeting, the temporary and ephemeral, offers the anthropologist (and others) a new object.’

4-Bedroom Townhouses: £900,000

Balconies

‘All consumers of space find themselves caught among the echoes and images of a sort of cosmology which, unlike the ones traditionally studied by ethnologists, is objectively universal, and at the same time familiar and prestigious. This has at least two results. On the one hand, these images tend to make a system; they outline a world of consumption that every individual can make his own because it incessantly buttonholes him. The temptation to narcissism is all the more seductive here in that it seems to express the common law: in order to be yourself – do as others do. On the other hand, like all cosmologies, this new cosmology produces effects of recognition. From which arises a paradox of non-place: a foreigner lost in a country he does not know can feel at home there only in the anonymity of motorways, service stations, large stores or hotel chains.’

Affordable Housing & Car Demographics

‘Alone, but one of many, the user of a non-place is in contractual relations with it (or with the powers that govern it). He is reminded, when necessary, that the contract exists. The contract always relates to the individual identity of the contracting party. The passenger accedes to his anonymity only when he has given proof of his identity; when he has countersigned, so to speak, the contract. In a way, the user of the non-place is always required to prove his innocence. Checks on the contract and the user’s identity, beforehand or afterwards, stamp the space of contemporary consumption with the sign of non-place: it can be entered only by the innocent.’

Entrances & Receptions

‘When individuals come together, they engender the social and organise places. But the space of supermodernity is inhabited by this contradiction: it deals only with individuals (customers, passengers, users, listeners), but they are identified (name, occupation, place of birth, address) only on entering or leaving. It seems that the social game is being played elsewhere than in the forward posts of the contemporary world. Those pursuing new socialisations and localisations can see non-places only as a negation of their ideal. The non-place is the opposite of utopia: it exists, and it cannot attain any organic society.’

‘In one form or another, ranging from the misery of refugee camps to the cosseted luxury of five-star hotels, some experience of non-place is today an essential component of all social existence. Hence the very particular and ultimately paradoxical character of what is sometimes regarded in the West as the fashion for “cocooning”, retreating into the self: never before have individual histories, because of their necessary relations with space, image and consumption, been so deeply entangled with general history, with history pure and simple. In this situation, any individual attitude is conceivable: flight (back home, elsewhere), fear (of the self, of others), but also revolt (against established values).’

– Marc Augé, Non-Places (1992)

Architects for Social Housing

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