9781844677009-a-guide-to-the-new-ruins-of-great-britain-nip-max_221

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

  • “Angry, fiercely funny.... 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 favor, rejection of received ideas, exhaustive knowledge and all-round bolshiness. He travels, self-consciously, in the famous footsteps of J. B. Priestley and Ian Nairn, and there can be no higher praise than to suggest that he proves himself their peer. This book is as much a marker for an era as English Journey and Outrage were.”
  • “Hatherley's footloose narrative is driven by a heartfelt anger ... as well as a laudable desire to open people's eyes to the true value of their cities.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.”

Blog

  • "Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night" - an extract from Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London

    Extract from Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London by Matthew Beaumont

    In the dead of night, in spite of the electric lights and the remnants of nightlife, London is an alien city, especially if you are strolling through its lanes and thoroughfares alone.


    In the more sequestered streets, once the pubs are closed, and at a distance from the twenty-four-hour convenience stores, the sodium gleam of the street lamps, or the flickering strip-light from a soporific minicab stand, offers little consolation. There are alleys and street corners and shop entrances where the darkness appears to collect in a solid, faintly palpitating mass. There are secluded squares where, to appropriate a haunting line from a poem by Shelley, night makes ‘a weird sound of its own stillness’. There are buildings, monuments and statues that, at a distance, and in the absence of people, pulsate mysteriously in the sepulchral light. There are foxes that slope and trot across the road, in a single motion, as you interrupt their half-shameful, half-defiant attempts to pillage scraps from upended bins. And, from time to time, there are the faintly sinister silhouettes of other solitary, perhaps homeless, individuals – as threatened by your presence, no doubt, as you are by theirs. ‘However efficiently artificial light annihilates the difference between night and day’, Al Alvarez has commented, ‘it never wholly eliminates the primitive suspicion that night people are up to no good.’


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  • 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. 


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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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Other books by Owen Hatherley