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A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain

A darkly humorous architectural guide to the decrepit new Britain that neoliberalism built.
Back in 1997, New Labour came to power amid much talk of regenerating the inner cities left to rot under successive Conservative governments. Over the next decade, British cities became the laboratories of the new enterprise economy: glowing monuments to finance, property speculation, and the service industry—until the crash.

In A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, Owen Hatherley sets out to explore the wreckage—the buildings that epitomized an age of greed and aspiration. From Greenwich to Glasgow, Milton Keynes to Manchester, Hatherley maps the derelict Britain of the 2010s: from riverside apartment complexes, art galleries and amorphous interactive "centers," to shopping malls, call centers and factories turned into expensive lofts. In doing so, he provides a mordant commentary on the urban environment in which we live, work and consume. Scathing, forensic, bleakly humorous, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain is a coruscating autopsy of a get-rich-quick, aspirational politics, a brilliant, architectural "state we're in."

Reviews

  • “A book of finespun rage ... a book that had to be written. Wittily, bitterly, pithily, mostly accurately, Hatherley tells it how it is.”
  • “This surgical evisceration of the cityscapes of Blairism is required reading.”
  • “Wonderfully provocative.”
  • “Hatherley is always entirely clear about his personal standpoint, so his criticisms never seem unjustified ... A rather bleak undercurrent is tempered by Hatherley’s often witty observations and easy-going prose style.”
  • “This is a different kind of Heritage Britain, the kind that the tourists don't usually get to see ... this is also the real Britain, and Hatherley is the most informed, opinionated and acerbic guide you could wish for.”
  • “Roomy and intellectually sophisticated.. It is bold and original, and it may change how you see British cities.”
  • “This is fear and loathing in Lost Albion riffed by a quainter version of Hunter S Thompson.”
  • “Painted with a raging energy that is exhilarating ... [It's] political, sinister, sometimes funny.”
  • “A serious left-field attempt to provoke thought and argument ... This is an important book that is entirely worthy of the arguments it sets out to provoke.”
  • “Hatherley deserves to be widely read … he has brought a welcome freshness and honesty to architectural criticsm.”
  • “In this angry, fiercely funny book, Owen Hatherley steps forward as the Pevsner of the PFI generation, an erudite, urbane guide to the Ballardian wreckage of millennial Britain. Essential reading for anyone who ever feels their blood start to boil when they hear the word ‘regeneration.'”
  • “An exhilarating book. Owen Hatherley brings to bear a quizzing eye, venomous wit, supple prose, refusal to curry favour, rejection of received ideas, exhaustive knowledge and all-round bolshiness.This book is as much a marker for an era as English Journey and Outrage were.”
  • “The latest heir to Ruskin ... Hatherley blasts the architectural style of New Labour Britain. Whatever your pet-hate, Hatherley will probably have some enjoyably cruel words for it.”
  • “A useful and entertaining guide to the state of our built environment .”

Blog

  • Reimagining Architecture and Cities: A Reading List

    As the housing crisis worsens, and the inequalities of the city become more pronounced, a radical architectural response becomes vital and necessary.

    In Last Futures: Nature, Technology, and the End of Architecture, Douglas Murphy maps the designs, dreams, and failures of architects, philosophers and planners from the 1960’s to the present day; introducing a world of apocalyptic industrialists, radical hippies, cybernetic planners and visionary architects, and exploring not just what to build, but how.

    Inspired by this, we present a reading list of books that propose new ways to reimagine the city, and underline the need for progressive architectural alternatives. All these books are 30% off, with free shipping, until Monday 8th Feb!


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  • Keep Calm and Carry On – the sinister message behind the slogan that seduced the nation

    The Guardian excerpted Owen Hatherley's latest book The Ministry of Nostalgia, a polemic against austerity nostalgia.  

    It is on posters, mugs, tea towels and in headlines. Harking back to a ‘blitz spirit’ and an age of public service, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ has become ubiquitous. How did a cosy, middle-class joke assume darker connotations? 

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  • Seumas Milne and Labour: an essential reading list

    Since storming to victory on September 14th with 59.5% of the vote in Labour's leadership election, Jeremy Corbyn has continued to ruffle right-wing feathers: not singing the national anthem; cancelling an appointment with Her Majesty; and, most recently, appointing Seumus Milne as his Director of Strategy. 



    "Real Labour voters read tabloids, love the Queen and join the Army. They don't relate to Guardianista apologias for terrorism", insisted the Telegraph. Of course, others may have been pleased that Corbyn chose to appoint an award-winning journalist known for his criticisms of Western imperialism, commitment to uncovering the corruption of the British State, and left-wing principles.

    From his devestating expose of the Thatcher government in The Enemy Within to his analysis of the United States' stumbling empire in The Revenge of History, Milne has long been one of the most distinctive and critical voices in the British media.  

    Read more on Milne, the Labour Party, and British and international politics below.

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