With the recent urban landscape changing rapidly due to the recession, Owen Hatherley’s latest book A New Kind of Bleak is a timely reflection on how these changes have taken shape in Britain.
Reviewing his book for the Guardian, Andy Beckett says of Hatherley:
His leftwing politics, quick put-downs and, perhaps above all, the sense that he speaks for a rarely represented generation that has not benefitted from gentrification, the property ladder and the other urban booms of the last 30 years, make his books fierce and original.
The book climaxes with an exhilarating exploration of the City of London, which reluctantly acknowledges that its profit-graph spikes and plunges are probably modern Britain's best piece of large-scale urban design. Yet he never relaxes his conviction that this architecture is, as he puts it, "the exterior decoration of evil".
The book offers thoughts on more recent events as well as taking us on a journey through changing landscapes through time:
There are also tantalisingly brief treatments here of recent, often highly political disruptions to the British urban landscape: last summer's riots, last year's student marches and occupations, the Occupy encampments.
Beckett praises the book, stating that “there are more than enough fresh insights and images here to be getting on with”.
Visit the Guardian to read the review in full.
Elsewhere, the book also deserves the attention of the Literary Review. In his article 'Jonathan Meades praises Hatherley’s treatment of Richard Rogers’s Loyd’s building. He writes:
These pages on Loyd’s are of the highest order – architectural writing that may justly be compared to that of Summerson and Nairn.
The Literary Review’s review is only available in print.