Great Fire of 1666

Great Fire of London recreated in Minecraft, complete with blaze

Header image: © Museum of London, created by Blockworks. /// The history of a city is littered with fires. Smaller ones that take down neighborhoods and large-scale disasters that change the landscape. The Great Fire of London in 1666 was such a fire. It destroyed the medieval City of London, incinerating the homes of 70,000 of the City’s 80,000 inhabitants. The fire was so bad, one of the factors credited to its quenching was the Tower of London garrison using gunpowder to halt the spread east. Your fire has gotten out of hand when you have to fight it with gunpowder.…


High-Rise; a very British psychopathology

The first time I saw the Barbican Estate in London I was entranced. The layered terraces of pitted concrete, the crisscrossing walkways, those monolithic towers that seemed—as with Petra or Al-Hijr—like they might have been carved out of natural stone. It is rare, especially in a city like London, as layered and complex as a geological event, to walk into such a large space that feels so designed, so ordained. Yet, setting foot in those 20 acres of roughened concrete, I somehow felt that I was stepping into an idea, or an ideal, and out of reality entirely. Even now,…

Teviot Tales

Using Twine games to preserve modern folk stories

Teviot Tales is a game that shares the stories of residents living in the Teviot Estate in Poplar, London. Developer and writer Hannah Nicklin spent six months at the estate, exploring the nearby area and conducting interviews with locals. Alongside the poetry and game design workshops she ran during her time there, she also held one for storytelling, where she invited and encouraged people to tell whatever stories they wished to tell. There’s Terry, who speaks of his time spent with his best friend John back when he was 12-years old, as they smoked Weights and listened to Temperance Seven records; Margaret, who always puts…


Between Us examines the distance and closeness between two city dwellers

This melancholy London—I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air. – William Butler Yeats Cloaked in fog and rain, London is a city that invites imagination. Its inhabitants all bundled and bustling, London brings all walks of life together while keeping everyone at a distance. “I love watching the city as it transforms each evening,” says Josh Unsworth, creator of Between Us, a narrative game about two strangers thrown together by chance one such night. “Any city at night has a magical feel, but there’s…


An interactive theatre show brings out the capitalist monsters in most of us

Very few people get out of bed and plan to run a horrible sweatshop, but here they are, a collection of young, presumably liberal adults, doing just that. They are participants in Zoe Svendsen’s interactive play, World Factory, at London’s Young Vic Theatre. Audience members form teams. They sit in clusters, figuring out how to deal with problems at their Chinese clothing factory. These problems touch on a variety of issues—worker conditions, dealings with clients and suppliers—but, insofar as we’re talking about capitalism here, everything comes down to the bottom line.  “Because the choices are binary they are rarely palatable,”…


This new art exhibit puts a human face on hard steel

The Barbican Centre, located on Silk Street in the City of London, is one of the largest performing arts centers in Europe. (The smallest is Captain Franko’s Fantabulous Flea Circus in Covent Garden.) Until January 11th, 2015, the venue is hosting an exhibit called “Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age” which, through over 250 works by 18 celebrated artists, seeks to explore the relationships that buildings develop with their surroundings, separate from the hyperfocused spreads of traditional architectural photography. Constructing Worlds removes the architect’s ego The display has been designed to communicate to people, not architects. In…