Places without history now have their own story to tell

Owen Hatherley at Prospect Magazine:

Basingstoke sits roughly equidistant between London, where I’ve lived all my adult life, and Southampton, where I grew up. On the frequent train journey between the two, Southampton would barely ever change, but Basingstoke constantly threw up new office complexes and blocks of luxury flats, seemingly enjoying a permanent boom while Southampton declined. I’d never get off the train to look at the town, having been alarmed by it on a visit as a teenager, by the way there seemed to be “no there there”—just an enclosed mall, ringed by motorways, with Barratt Homes suburbia around it and nothing much more. This, I melodramatically thought to myself, is what they want for all of us, lives lived around shopping, property and nothing else, in towns stripped of anything distinct.

But what if that lack of all the obvious signifiers of urban uniqueness—the historic buildings, the art galleries, museums and concert halls, the “vibrant street life”—is itself an identity?

more here.