By Owen Hatherley
An anatomy of failed-state Britain, through the writer of A consultant to the recent Ruins of serious Britain.
In A advisor to the hot Ruins of serious 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 diversified method of fiscal mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the areas the place the British dwell.
In a trip that starts 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 the place outdoor the substitute Southeast, the construction 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 recent Britain, and but this is still a booklet approximately probabilities remembered, approximately not likely successes in the middle of doubtless inexorable failure. For in addition to trash, old and sleek, Hatherley unearths indicators of the hopeful state Britain as soon as was once and tricks of what it will possibly become.
12 B&W illustrations
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Additional resources for A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain
The thing with Middlesex, and what made it so unlike occupations at SOAS or LSE, is that the place is already the model of the neoliberal university – totally dispersed, totally atomized, with no particular Traditions of Glorious Rebellion. If, as Mark Fisher argued in his book Capitalist Realism, the 2006 student protests over employment laws in France were easily presented as conservative attempts to retain privileges, Middlesex, and the protests of winter 2010, are the exact opposite – rather, they are what happens when an already neoliberalized student body tries to politicize itself.
It was supposed to become a practical New Town under the Thames Gateway, but although a lot of houses got built, it didn’t entirely pan out that way. The station itself, from which you can get to St Pancras, Paris, Lille and Brussels, is a Foster-like glass box that was pre-emptively strangled by road engineering, so that it was impossible for a real town to ever grow up around it; a series of spurs from the M25 surround and encase it, and the housing emerges on the edges of that. Ebbsfleet has no centre, though it has many, many units of neo-Victorian or Pseudomodern living that somehow slipped through the CABE net.
Framed with foliage, symmetrically organized and allegorical, sometimes you even find architectural modernism immortalized on them. One RMT banner I spotted on a protest a few months ago was centred on an image of Charles Holden’s Arnos Grove station. This powerful language is at least partly present in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson building. In its main room, which is being adapted as a museum, with interactive exhibits on feminism, the health service and trade unionism, there is remade Arts and Crafts furniture (that you can sit on, for once) and a small library stocked with the likes of Friedrich Engels, Mary Wollstonecraft and Sheila Rowbotham.
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain by Owen Hatherley