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Mean streets

The disorder of the modern city stems in part from the modernist design of telephone booths and street lamps. Street furniture has ceased to represent civic order

By Roger Scruton   January 1998

There used to be one object in every English village that stood out as a symbol of stable government and a refuge to the traveller: the telephone booth. This cast iron structure in imperial red was designed in 1924 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Like many architects who worked in the Indian summer of the British empire, Scott was eclectic, able to draw on classical, Gothic and proto-modern motifs in order to provide a rich vocabulary of detail, responsive to the new demands of the industrial age. His telephone booth is a case in point. Classical in outline and inspired…

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