A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain by Owen Hatherley

By Owen Hatherley

An anatomy of failed-state Britain, by way of the writer of A consultant to the recent Ruins of serious Britain.

In A advisor to the recent 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 financial mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the locations the place the British stay.

In a trip that starts off and results in 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 factitious Southeast, the construction has stopped in cities and towns, which languish as they stay up for the following bout of self-defeating austerity.

Hatherley writes with unrivalled aggression concerning the disarray of contemporary Britain, and but this continues to be a e-book approximately probabilities remembered, approximately not going successes in the middle of likely inexorable failure. For in addition to trash, old and glossy, Hatherley unearths indicators of the hopeful state Britain as soon as was once and tricks of what it can become.
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Sample text

It would have been wrong to cheer on rioters against corner shopkeepers trying to defend their already small livelihoods; but it is equally wrong to pretend that this had nothing to do with the demonization of the young and poor, nothing to do with our brutally unequal society and our pathetic trickle-down attempts at palliation. Then we line up with those who think that looting Foot Locker is worse than the looting of an entire economy. Something snapped in August 2011, and it was a long time coming.

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.

Each row ends with a tower. One is ‘Coffee Plaza’, by American architect Richard Meier, another is a building for Unilever by Behnisch Architekten, evocative not so much of a robust Hanseatic modernism but more of Brazilian maestro Oscar Niemeyer, with flowing, feminine biomorphic curves. It consists of both offices and penthouses, and is advertised here as ‘Marco Polo Tower – design for Millionaires’. By far the most expensive and controversial project in HafenCity is Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie.

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