London has become the global city above all others. Money from all over the world flows through it; its land and homes are tradable commodities; it is a nexus for the world’s migrant populations, rich and poor. Versions of what is happening in London are happening elsewhere, but London has become the best place to understand the way the world’s cities are changing.
Some of the transformations London has undergone were creative, others were destructive; this is not new. London has always been a city of trade, exploitation and opportunity. But London has an equal history of public interventions, including the Clean Air Act, the invention of the green belt and council housing, and the innovation of the sewers and embankments that removed the threat of cholera. In each case the response was creative and unprecedented; they were also huge in scale and often controversial. The city must change, of course, but Moore explains why it should do so with a ‘slow burn’, through the interplay of private investment, public good and legislative action.
Fiercely intelligent, thought-provoking, lucidly written and often outrageously and uncomfortably funny, Slow Burn City is packed with fascinating stories about the physical fabric of London in the twenty-first century. But by seeing this fabric as the theatre of social and cultural struggles, Moore connects the political and architectural decisions of London’s enfeebled and reactive government with the built environment that affects its inhabitants’ everyday lives. In this urgent and necessary book, Moore makes a passionate case for London to invent new ways to respond to the pressures of the present, from which other cities could learn.