Dudley Zoo Architecture: The Tectons

I often say this to people, but Dudley must’ve had a really other worldly feel in the late 1930’s. Whilst other Midland towns were still clinging on to their Victorian, red brick style architecture, Dudley was blooming with Art Deco and Modernist designs that were completely modern and forward thinking. In one area alone it had the block that was the Dudley Hippodrome, a stunning Odeon Cinema, and the Tecton delight that was the entrance to Dudley Zoo. It is a true marvel of design that can still delight the eye 80 years later. (You can read more about Dudley Art Deco here.)

On Saturday we paid a trip to the zoo for the first time in some years. Joe was desperate to see the animals, I was desperate to see the old enclosures. These are the Tectons, and are now all Grade 2 listed, protecting these unusual structures for a future generation. The Tecton Group was a radical architectural group co-founded by Berthold Lubetkin, Francis Skinner, Denys Lasdun, Godfrey Samuel, and Lindsay Drake in 1932 and disbanded in 1939. They first found fame creating enclosures in London Zoo, and then went on to design more Zoo architecture at both Whipesnade and Dudley during the 1930’s.

The Tectons at Dudley Zoo are world renowned as the most complete set of buildings designed by the group, and in 2009 they were listed as endangered in the World Monuments Fund. In recent years there has been a sympathetic programme of restoration of the 12 buildings, which incorporated enclosures for the likes of the sea lions, bears, elephants and a bird house, as well as two cafes, the zoo’s entrance and two kiosks. The Queen Mary restaurant is still open, and the former Moat Cafe is now an education discovery centre. Only the Sea Lion pool is still used for it was designed for, with the former Reptilary now the home to the zoo’s meerkats.

I have loved the Tectons since I first visited the zoo as a child. I had no idea of their architectural importance, I just knew that they looked strange and weird and I loved that. Seeing them again all these years later, and following the trail which shows you the original architectural plans and designs, and archive photos, is just fascinating if you are a fan of modernist architecture.


Party Hints And Tips For The Host With The Most

Planning a perfect party isn’t as easy as it sounds. You need to source a great venue, create a guest list, make sure your food and drink selection is tasty and memorable, and decide on your entertainment, then everything else should be fine. Your party should be one that is talked about for years, whether it be for your birthday, engagement, wedding, anniversary, hell, people are even holding divorce parties these days.


Your venue is important, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Many people are holding parties in their own gardens these days, using a marquee that can be hired just for the event. If you would rather that the noise and mess (let’s be honest here) was away from your own home, there are places like community centres and village halls that can be hired at a reasonable cost. If you have more budget for the venue, you could look at local hotels which often have function rooms to hire. A hotel can often also organise your entertainment and your catering too, which could take away some of the planning for you.

Food And Drink

Even if you decide to host your party at home, it does not mean that you have to spend the day leading up to it making sandwiches. An outside catering firm can address a whole host of catering needs or themes, and can even bring staff if you decide to have your food served as well as catered for.  You can set the budget for your food, being as frugal or as lavish as you decide, and you can ensure that the food will be up to a fabulous level, leaving you just to enjoy your party.

Drink is equally, if not even more important. Even if you are having a paid bar, it is classy and stylish to have some sort of drink as a toast. Champagne is popular, but I think a good wine that suits the taste of the host is even better. I source my wine from Independent Wine, who are an importer of boutique fine wine from Italy, including a rather classy range of Prosecco which makes a good toast, or could be used for cocktails if you have a specific theme. Gin Fizz anyone?


Your choice of entertainment should be a reflection of your taste. Want to dance the night away? Then a DJ would be a good choice. Like something a little bit more refined? How about a swing band. Totally fun-loving and love a bit of a sing along? Then you can’t really go wrong with karaoke. The choice really is all yours, it’s your party after all. I know a couple who held their own rave for their engagement party and totally loved it, and another couple who had a mini festival for their joint 40th birthdays.


Your party should reflect you, and should leave everyone having had the best of times, and that includes you. After all, who wants tears on their special day?

How Culture Affects Divorce Rates?

It seems that certain marriages are doomed to fail. Or, at least, that’s what we think. One person is very controlling and demanding, whereas the other would just spend their days drinking in bars. They might be in love right now, but it will soon come to an end. It is sometimes impossible to make rational decisions when love is at play. As an effect, the phrase “I told you so” gets repeated quite frequently. 

However, putting the myopia of the humankind aside, the divorce rates are not the same all around the globe. Quite the contrary – marriage in the United States is more than ten times as likely to fail than in China. Are Chinese people simply much better at choosing their partners? Or are there other factors that influence this considerable disparity in divorce rates in different countries? In a moment, we’ll examine how culture affects divorce rates.

The Cost of Individualism

Throughout history, the United States has been regarded as a highly individualistic society. It’s not surprising, given the amount of differing backgrounds and perspectives that the immigrants from all over the world brought to this country. Another factor that we should also consider is material wealth. The affluent countries usually become increasingly individualistic, as an individual is less dependent on the rest of the society to survive. 

Why is that important? According to Survive Divorce, the divorce rate in the United States is estimated to be somewhere around 50%. It means that half of all marriages end with a divorce. Are Americans really that bad at discovering with whom they want to spend the rest of their lives? On the other hand, the divorce rate in China is estimated to be between 3% and 4%. Hofstede Insights, an organization that studies different cultures, rated the United States as a highly individualistic society, giving it 91 points out of 100, whereas China received only 20 points. Are those two metrics connected?

It seems to be the case. Highly individualistic societies produce more egocentric people. It’s neither bad nor good, but it means that it doesn’t take as much for the individuals to be sure that they would be better off without the other person. 

The more collectivist societies are more used to placing a greater emphasis on harmony, even if personal happiness is the price. It means that marriage is more likely to continue even when things are going poorly. Things like frequent fights, financial problems, or abuse, have a smaller chance to lead to divorce. 

Decision Paralysis

Obviously, it is a huge oversimplification, as there are many additional factors involved, but sometimes having too many options to choose from can be detrimental. It is a phenomenon that applies to business but also to finding a partner. Sometimes it’s better to have a limited range of choices, or we might grow suspicious that none of the options will make us happy. 

The dating apps made it possible to exchange messages with people with similar interests, looks, or status. However, even if we think that we found the one, there is also a growing suspicion that there is someone even more perfect out there. 

What if, instead of doing it yourself, someone else would be responsible for finding you a partner? The divorce rate of arranged marriages is around 4% worldwide. Does that mean that we are pretty bad at finding our soul mates, and it’s much better to delegate this responsibility? 

Not exactly. Although the divorce rate in countries with a huge number of arranged marriages is lower, the same isn’t necessarily true when it comes to marriage satisfaction. Though some studies have shown that arranged marriages and marriages of choice don’t differ that much, others paint a more negative picture. We shouldn’t forget that most arranged marriages occur in cultures where it might not be easy for a woman to get divorced, even if she wanted to do so. 

Conservatism vs. Liberalism

If we look at the divorce rates in Europe, we’ll quickly find out that more liberal countries have higher divorce rates than the more conservative ones. Unsurprisingly, more religious countries, like Italy, Romania, or Poland, have very low divorce rates. In contrast, countries in Western and Northern Europe, which are typically more liberal, have higher divorce rates.

Till Death Do Us Part?

Although it is easy to paint a grim picture of the decadent West where the divorce rates have reached a historic high, the reality is more complex. In countries where arranged marriages are the norm, many people don’t abandon their partner simply because of societal pressure. Even countries where arranged marriages are unheard of, like Italy or Poland, people are less likely to seek divorce due to religious or cultural reasons, even if they are unhappy. It doesn’t mean that it is possible to use this data to paint the bigger picture without further studies.