By Owen Hatherley
An anatomy of failed-state Britain, by means of the writer of A advisor to the hot Ruins of serious Britain.
In A consultant to the hot Ruins of significant Britain, Owen Hatherley skewered New Labour’s architectural legacy in all its witless swagger. Now, within the 12 months of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, he units out to explain what the Coalition’s altogether varied method of fiscal mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the areas the place the British reside.
In a trip that starts off and leads to the capital, Hatherley takes us from Plymouth and Brighton to Belfast and Aberdeen, when it comes to the eerie urbanism of the Welsh valleys and the much-mocked splendour of modernist Coventry. all over outdoor the bogus Southeast, the construction has stopped in cities and towns, which languish as they look forward to the subsequent bout of self-defeating austerity.
Hatherley writes with unrivalled aggression concerning the disarray of contemporary Britain, and but this is still a booklet approximately percentages remembered, approximately not going successes in the course of probably inexorable failure. For in addition to trash, old and sleek, Hatherley reveals symptoms of the hopeful nation Britain as soon as used to be and tricks of what it could actually become.
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Extra info for A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain
We’re so pleased with this that we’ve even extended the principle to how we plan the trickle-down dribble of social housing built over the last two decades, those Housing Association schemes where the deserving poor are ‘pepper-potted’ with stockbrokers. We’ve learnt about ‘spatial segregation’, so we do things differently now. Someone commenting on James Meek’s London Review of Books blog post4 on parallel Hackneys mentioned China Miéville’s recent science fiction novel The City and the City, where two cities literally do occupy the same space, with all inhabitants acting as if they don’t.
In these essays those cities are seen as political spaces subject to the changes in the British economy from the post-war settlement to the Thatcher-Blair consensus, as spaces where the movements in architectural theory from modernism to postmodernism and back have had profound and complex effects, and as spaces where the self-image of rural Albion can be tested against the urban and suburban reality. This book is entirely a continuation of that project, though I hope I can be understood without prior acquaintance.
You can get a hint of that when you leave the train at the station. Look up at the Town Hall, a ’60s complex of no distinction, and you can always see two protruding things – a Union Jack and a CCTV camera, like a slightly laboured Banksy mural brought to life: community, nationality, security. It’s hard to tell which building-boom decade did more violence to Dartford. You can tick off the suspects. The ’60s, with its roadbuilding and loveless offices? Maybe. The ’80s, with its car-centred shopping malls, and more pointedly, the construction of the M25, which chopped the town in half?
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain by Owen Hatherley