© 2016 urbanks. All rights reserved.

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urbanks is a labour of love, a one-man band. There isn’t, strictly speaking, an ‘us’. As a solo project, the urbanks website grows incrementally, one page at a time. Concerned with urbanity, urbanks looks at the historical and geopolitical events that have shaped our towns and cities, primarily those of the 20th century.

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I was born in Britain in July, 1988, and was therefore just 18 months old when the Berlin Wall fell. In 1992, when the Soviet Union ceased to exist, I was three years old and hadn't yet started primary school. I didn't, then, live through the Cold War. I have no memories of the four-minute warning. The threat of nuclear apocalypse did not form the backdrop to my childhood.

I am, in other words, a child of the End of History generation. Francis Fukuyama’s philosophy – that the end of the Cold War had ushered in a period where the model of market capitalism and social democracy was the global norm – was the predominant international zeitgeist of my childhood. Regardless of what has happened since to rupture the conventional wisdom, the world I grew up in was relatively peaceful and defined by cooperation, rather than conflict.
 

The Cold War seemed so removed from the taken-for-granted harmony of the 1990's. The intrigue, the spying, the constant threat of nuclear war. The history of the conflict, I believe, has therefore became a source of perverse fascination to many of my generation, as it has me.
 

Apart from Cold War history, I am also interested in both urban and natural environments. And I find situations where they collide particularly interesting. Across the globe it is mostly urbanity that is in the ascendancy, with the natural world suffering as a result – in some cases suffering gravely. There are, however, local exceptions; the places and buildings of the world that for whatever reason are no longer inhabited. Every abandoned place has its own unique story, but few escape the re-colonisation of nature. I find it exhilarating to visit these places, learn their history and document their current state.

I am currently living in Germany, the location of most Cold War military bases and installations. To my surprise, many of them have been left to rot and crumble. I therefore embarked on a project to explore and photograph them, before they disappear forever. This website – and the book which will eventually accompany it – are the fruit of that project.

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