Brutalist architecture has haunted my life. It has always been there as an obsession, an enduring, compelling aesthetic, and a site of possibilty and emergence. When I was a child we moved house quite a lot, the cast always reshuffled alongside a changing landscape.
I remember journeys along the A64 to visit my Dad. I must have been six or seven. We would drive through Leeds past the tower blocks of Seacroft, through the tunnels with their mosaics and orange lights, the International pool, Merrion Centre and Quarry Hill flats. The brutalist architecture of Leeds indelibly marked me; these journeys were emotionally heightened, suffused with a kind of sublime anxiety.
My early memories of family life are embedded in the black stone terraces, 70s new builds and post war council estates of West Yorkshire. Later we moved to a street of 1930s red bricks houses in Scarborough. Brutalist architecture seemed transcendent, totally beyond the microworlds I inhabited in my Grandma's semi detached house.
Barbaric Sport: A Global Plague — Marc Perelman
Perelman’s book takes a subversive look at sport and global sporting events such as the Olympics to reveal their darker side. He argues that sport has become an instrument of political control and a vehicle for capitalist monoculture. This timely polemic offers refreshing reading to those looking for an antidote to this summer’s Olympian frenzy.
Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism — Stephen Graham
This authoritative study examines the rapid and dangerous spread and normalization of surveillance and state policing in western cities and warzones alike under the guise of national security. As such it provides an unsettling and provocative insight into the global backdrop of the rising costs and militarization of London’s Olympic Games security operation.
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain— Owen Hatherley
Hatherley’s critical tour of Britain’s urban centres incorporates the latest and most high profile attempt at regeneration offering a carefully considered indictment of the architectural and social failures of Stratford’s Olympic sites.
Are you drowning in deluded celebrations of a reactionary political system, a country facing economic collapse and a sporting spectacle sucking funds from our welfare system?
Are you disgusted by pleas for everyone to 'pull together in this time of austerity' when the only thing that isn't being cut is the Queen's flotilla?
After you've torched the street party and hung an effigy of 'our' monarch you may want to read these: