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unofficial countryside

The never-ending growth of cities and the dramatic inverse is the focus of the film Requiem for Detroit which was shown 2 weeks ago at Folly for a Flyover, a temporary structure and event space under the traffic of the A12. This little building containing the short-term, mean-while, grass-roots positivity towards urbanism where policy and commercial development have been unforthcoming. The film was good, with at least two seconds of Brittany Murphy in her 8 Mile role and with a prophesised future city where the rich have long escaped to suburbs and the poor and the enlightened claim the centre.
The site of the folly is special, part of the tight jumble of major road, waterway, housing and industry which characterise this Olympic part of east London. As part of the compensation for the building of the A12 here, a small woodland was established, probably unknown to all apart from the immediate locals, their dogs and the little plants and animals who live there. Not all of the brilliant pockets of countryside in London are payment for aggressive infrastructure. The Unofficial Countryside by Richard Mabey is a lovely book; a man maps the countryside which exists in and around the city perimeter, and the diversity of life which occurs in pavement cracks, around warehouses, in city canals and decaying buildings.
Requiem for Detroit leaves us with gardens in the place of deserted buildings which is the less dramatic fantasy of apocalypts everywhere.

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