“We built this city,” screeched Mickey Thomas, lead singer with wearisome American lightweights Starship, back in 1985. “We built this city on rock and roll.” Now, disregarding the small matter of Thomas’s lack of formal training and/or qualifications in construction, the very idea that a new metropolis could be erected on a concept as flimsy as rock n’ roll makes it a fundamentally flawed way of building. Besides, as anyone who’s ever owned a Lego set knows, constructing anything of real substance, yet alone something the size and magnitude of an entire city requires expertise, planning and patience, not merely three chords, twelve-bars and some loose morals.
While modern-day planning departments do tend to look favourably upon those proposals that utilise sustainable materials and new, environmentally-friendly methods of assembly, it’s unlikely they’ll green light any new development that advocates a musical genre as it’s foundations, yet alone a whole city.
“As most people instinctively know, all buildings need a solid base or what’s called a ‘well compacted sub-base’ to make them sturdy,’ explains Hugh Dennis of Brighton architects Urban View. “Building a city on solid rock is unusual, certainly, but as Manhattan shows us, where skyscrapers are built right on top of the rocks, it’s not impossible. Building a city on rock AND roll, though, well, that’s never going to work.”
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