By Owen Hatherley
An anatomy of failed-state Britain, via the writer of A consultant to the recent Ruins of significant Britain.
In A consultant 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 assorted method of fiscal mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the locations the place the British reside.
In a trip that starts off and results in the capital, Hatherley takes us from Plymouth and Brighton to Belfast and Aberdeen, in terms of the eerie urbanism of the Welsh valleys and the much-mocked splendour of modernist Coventry. in every single place outdoor the substitute Southeast, the development has stopped in cities and towns, which languish as they look ahead to the subsequent bout of self-defeating austerity.
Hatherley writes with unrivalled aggression in regards to the disarray of contemporary Britain, and but this is still a ebook approximately chances remembered, approximately not likely successes in the course of possible inexorable failure. For in addition to trash, historic and glossy, Hatherley reveals indicators of the hopeful nation Britain as soon as was once and tricks of what it will probably become.
12 B&W illustrations
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Extra info for A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain
In the foreground is an Odeon, using the same industrial Big Shed method as the old factories, then for producing, now for consuming; behind them you can see two skyscrapers. Well, almost skyscrapers, of a sleekness and finish that you don’t generally expect in an area more marked by concreteframed blocks with oast-house cowls on top. Both have curved, glazed façades, and are a fragment of the ‘aspirational’ side of the Thames Gateway’s property frenzy, the part that involves the perusal of Wallpaper* magazine and viewings of Grand Designs as much as of Location, Location, Location.
The poky Victorian terraces in the centre make clear why – this too is an industrial town, but one too close to London to be able to carve out an identity of its own. You now get little comic juxtapositions here, from the attempt to Make It Nice. The pediments of an ’80s improvement scheme act as a gateway to a derelict co-op and a couple of greasy spoons.
The name seems to have been chosen by a sadist, determined to ensure that the development always sounds pinched, substandard and suburban; but the area covered by it is absolutely enormous. This chapter is far from definitive, and will try instead to detail a journey that you can take, if you want, over a couple of days, rather than visiting every single part of the vast exurb. We will start on the Thames’s south side, or rather from the Medway, then go through North Kent, crossing the river via an imaginary bridge to Barking, where we will gradually make our way to the Metropolitan Enterprise Zone of Canary Wharf, and, eventually and reluctantly, end at the posthumous Blairite utopia of Olympian Stratford.
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain by Owen Hatherley