widg‧et /ˈwɪdʒɪt/ [wij-it] -noun: Pointless ramblings from the New Forest. Obviously complete & utter Rubbish. Why must I contibute to all this endless talk about me? My self-indulgent knees, spilling themselves all over the internet. Obviously i am Jon and his hair, I AM HIM!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The (Tubular) Bell Tolls

Current mood: steamy

I just so happen to have an intense & unrelentingly odd love for the London tube map. In my opinion (and many others, judging by the recent BBC Culture Show Design Quest poll) it is the singularly most useful example of information design the 20th century, or indeed any century, has produced. Not that something as abstract as a century physically produced it, foolish child. It was, of course, Mr. Harry Beck. His map (or more correctly, his diagram) is clean, clear & pleasing to the eye, in fact pretty much the opposite of actually travelling on the dirty, sweaty Underground. It has shown itself to be remarkably adaptable, incorporating the expanding network of lines & station's many changes without losing any of its unique and, lets face it, shaggable character.

I saw a good example of the map's changing face in the appendix of a book mainly dedicated to showing all the amendments that Mr. Beck made to the design during his lifetime. This particular version, from the 1990s, was produced for internal London Transport use only, detailing all the proposed extensions, including the millennium Jubilee Line expansion, the lovely putrid green of the non-existent Chelsea-Hackney Line and the groovy, continental style, high speed Crossrail Line. Which brings me to my rant of the day.

It sounds like the plans for Crossrail are finally gathering steam, as Ken the invincible mayor has recently been pushing for the government to agree its funding, so it can be up and running in time for the Olympics (ha, a little optimistic, I fear. "Politicians, meet reality. Reality, meet the politicians. I doubt you'll get on, but at least you are now aware of each other." I can but dream). Much as I am looking forward to the long promised tube improvements, this is one scheme I'm a little ambivalent about. A major part of the proposed line is a large renovation & expansion of Tottenham Court Road station, using the ground floor of the much loved/hideous eyesore Centre Point and demolishing & rebuilding the block around the old station entrance on Oxford Street & Charing Cross Road. This also happens to be the site of my favourite live music venue in London, The Astoria! I thought the whole point of the Underground was that it was underground! Why pull down an overground symbol of my fast fading youth & happiness? Of course, we all know why, apart from any structural considerations, bloody privatisation (or public-private partnerships, whatever they're called these days, you're not fooling anyone). Conglomerates & corporations obliterating history & erecting cold temples to their greed & emptiness, then flogging them off to the highest bidder.

Is it too late to give the Olympics back to Paris? They can keep their high-speed trains while they're at it, we're not used to a fast & punctual public transport system, it just doesn't suit us.

Currently listening: Solace by Xavier Rudd


Post a Comment

<< Home