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A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  100 ratings  ·  14 reviews
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, O...more
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Published July 1st 2011 by Verso (first published October 4th 2010)
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"Property development is the new punk rock."

Britain and America, long separated by a common language, can now see what happens when they both speak concrete. I don't know eff all about British buildings. And though I seem to like architecture, Amazon claims it's my #1 subject, I still only dance about it. Yet this Baedecker's for the 21st century was one of my favourite reads this year.
Going by the reviews and blurbs, I thought this book would be all about what's wrong. It isn't. Hatherly is an...more
Timothy Urban
Without hesitation I give this book a high score. It really skewers all that is awful about resent building in Britain. And it's very funny too. You have to know a little about movements in modern achitecture - a little research before you start would pay dividends.

Essentially, this was the approach to planning under New Labour...

No one is buying our yuppie flats!! Maybe because there aren't enough Tesco metros in a 200 yard radius? No, here's an idea, demolish all the council housing, then it'...more
Pete Trewin
I don't agree with everything that Owen Hatherley says, eg his liking for Jonathan Meades and architectural brutalism, but if you care about the urban environment and feel that what is happening is wrong then this is the book for you. I must admit that I felt a little guilty reading this. I was a planner and a regeneration consultant until recently and I'm afraid I went along with the 'design and build' thing which has resulted in the eerie feeling that you get going around the country and visit...more
Tombom P
Sometimes the descriptions it gives aren't detailed enough without photos to give you a good feel for the buildings talked about, which is a bit frustrating. Like these buildings have so much more of an impact with actual decent photos and then you could let the photos do the talking for some of it

Also way too much use of "neoliberalism" in the introduction and I don't understand half the architecture shit so it's like only half interesting to me but hopefully I'll pick it up more as I go along....more
This is a little like H V Morton & J B Priestly meet Nicholas Pevsner – and that's a good thing. Hatherley has an excellent eye for urban design, architecture and the ways that both are framed and shaped by existing political cultures: in other words, this architectural travelogue of contemporary Britain finds much to respect, more to condemn, and a neo-liberal, New Labour Blairite project to hold responsible. Knowing a little about recent developments in architectural practice and debates a...more
Ralph Britton
This book is not the easiest of reads, despite it's up to date relevance to the architecture we see around us. Hatherley has a complete grasp of the modern movements in architecture and the strongest views on what they have done to the country. He rarely feels the building of the last twenty years, whether it be 'heritage renewal' or shopping mall has done much to beautify the country. For a reader less in command of architectural theory he can sometimes be hard to follow but for the most part h...more
Rachel Stevenson
Architecture, cultural studies, the Olympics, Marxism, (post)modernism, neo-liberalism, JB Priestley, psychogeography, regeneration, urbanism, suburbanism, pop culture, Southampton - Hatherley writes about all this and more with sentences such as: “ ...aggressively statist and weightily bureaucratic in form that the signifiers given out, always important in post-modernism sign fixated discourse, were deeply unattractive” or: “Non-orthogonal geometry and hyperbolic paraboloids purport to re...more
Joanna b
Really great to read someone who knows far more about architecture than I ever will being mean about things I hate. If you too hate the overuse of cladding, 'stunning riverside developments', anything described as 'luxury' or 'executive' you might enjoy this. Also he meets up with rentergirl at one point. The only thing I'm sad about is that he didn't come to Southend. Come to Southend Owen! There are terrible things here too!
Hatherley knows his stuff but makes few concessions to the reader who doesn't, which makes this book hard-going at times unless you can clearly separate the modern from the post-modern (not to mention the plain Brutalist). There is also a clear underlying leftist bias (post-war socialist idealism good, everything since bad), which doesn't bother me but I wondered if it rendered the overall thrust too one-sided. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his more perceptive snarks at the expense of planners, archit...more
Roger Boyle
I enjoyed this, but it's one of those where you pay close attention to the bits you really know (Leeds/Sheffield/Greenwich), while the detail of the other learned chapters passed me by. Because I'm not a trained or practicing architect.

Odd book in some ways - many good & useful pictures, all BW. It's in the manner of Defoe, but rather more overtly political. he's not a fan of the right, centre, or centre-left :-).

So if all the chapters had been on my home towns, more stars.
not sure if i'll ever finish it. good book, BUT, you REALLY have to be there, so to speak, for a book about architecture. i understand the choice of just taking simple, pedestrian images for the book, but to print them so tiny and so crappily, really does no justice. so, alas...
So up my street I could have commissioned it, Hatherley's angry aesthetic Marxism is exciting and hugely relevant.
Heir to Pevsner here.
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Owen Hatherley is a British writer and journalist based in London who writes primarily on architecture, politics and culture.
More about Owen Hatherley...
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“Again, we find that the space standards of twenty-first century luxury are below the required minimum for dockworkers in 1962.” 2 likes
“It shows a mediocre architect at the top of his game [on the Beetham Tower in Manchester]” 1 likes
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