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In pictures: J G Ballard's architectural inspiration

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J G Ballard, who died on 19 April, 2009, was a writer whose controversial work drew inspiration from the built environment in its many forms; multi-storey car parks, busy highways and giant shopping malls. J G Ballard expert Chris Hall picks five ‘Ballard buildings’.


Chris Hall is a journalist and writer who interviewed Ballard on several occasions. Read Hall’s crash course on the work of J G Ballard here

The images below are shown as part of a Flickr slideshow. Copyright belongs with the photographers


1. Canary Wharf, the 1990s Docklands office development which he prefigured in his novel High Rise (1975), Ballard’s critique not just of high-rise living but urban planning itself. Anthony Royal’s 40-storey self-contained building soon lets loose social disintegration.

2. Guggenheim Bilbao Ballard considered Gehry’s art gallery a masterpiece and what would have happened ‘If the atomic bomb inside Fort Knox had exploded in James Bond’s face at the end of Goldfinger’.

3. The Westway motorway flyover in West London- ‘a stone dream that will never awake’ - was the setting for Ballard’s 1974 Concrete Island about a 35-year old architect marooned on a motorway traffic island. The M3, Ballard wrote, is a “motion sculpture of concrete that races past Shepperton like an immense runway”.

4. Multi-storey car park in Watford. Ballard referred to the Hertforshire town as ‘the Mecca of the multi-storey car park’. Multi-storey car parks play a special role in The Atrocity Exhibition. Ballard was interested ‘in the gauge of psychoarchitectonics and its canted floors, as a depository for cars, [which] seemed to let one into a new dimension.’

5. Bluewater shopping centre, Kent. The sinister side of a suburban metro-centre is explored in the 2006 novel Kingdom Come

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