The disease anorexia nervosa that became widespread during the 1970s has been interpreted as a last-ditch attempt to control your most immediate surroundings: the shape and edges of your own body. It is an absolute response to a sense that we are powerless to make a mark on the physical world beyond our own consciousness. In the late 1990s interiors magazines now replicate the related bodily preoccupations of fashion and make-up by dealing obsessively with the make-over of the domestic environment just beyond our bodies.
Architecture's promise that it is possible to determine the wider environment is predicated upon the antithesis to this defeatist containment of design: an optimism that you can change the world for the better. Two years ago the Architecture Foundation and the Evening Standard conducted some immensely popular debates on the future of London. They left the participants with a sense of what was possible, but with no place to effect change. Focusing on the Hammersmith area, the foundation's recent roadshow has managed to find sites for this mass remit to change the world beyond our front doors. This has been achieved with numerous workshops engaging inhabitants and workers in design, together with architects. The resulting visualisations promise before-and-after effects on a scale undreamed of by the make-over magazines and programmes.
The public's delight in the process demands a tv series: how much more empowering it is to be changing cities rather than just Changing Rooms.