Sunday, 3 May 2009


Ballardian Defined by the Collins English Dictionary as "resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard's novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments."

In his novel Concrete Island, Ballard tells the story of a man who crashes his car onto a traffic island and finds himself trapped there. He becomes a modern Robinson Crusoe, marooned not by an ocean but by a never-ending flow of cars. One day he even sees his own wife drive by. As he turns into a ragged social outcast surviving on scraps, his will to return to civilisation begins to ebb. Life on a traffic island is not, perhaps, so bad after all…

All London’s traffic planners are Ballardians, and their designs are plainly intended to reproduce the landscape of Concrete Island for the benefit of cyclists and pedestrians, who are diverted into lonely concrete places, below, beside or above the endless flow of motor vehicles.

Here are some local examples. The first two pics show Charlie Brown’s roundabout, where the M11 meets the North Circular.

(Below) Beneath the A12 East Cross Route

(Below) Pedestrians this way. The bridge over the A406, near the Crooked Billet

East London - twinned with East Berlin

(Below) The pathology of fossil fuel normality