A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain by Owen Hatherley

By Owen Hatherley

A darkly funny architectural advisor to the decrepit new Britain that neoliberalism built.
Back in 1997, New Labour got here to energy amid a lot speak of regenerating the internal towns left to rot below successive Conservative governments. Over the subsequent decade, British towns grew to become the laboratories of the recent firm economic climate: gleaming monuments to finance, estate hypothesis, and the provider industry—until the crash.

In A consultant to the recent Ruins of serious Britain, Owen Hatherley units out to discover the wreckage—the constructions 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 residence complexes, artwork galleries and amorphous interactive "centers," to purchasing shops, name facilities and factories become dear lofts. In doing so, he presents a mordant observation at the city setting during which we are living, paintings and devour. Scathing, forensic, bleakly funny, A consultant to the hot Ruins of serious Britain is a coruscating post-mortem of a get-rich-quick, aspirational politics, a super, architectural "state we're in." 250 black-and-white images and illustrations

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The second was that of the Industrial Revolution, of iron, brick, smokestacks and back-to-backs, more ‘real’ than the first but ruthlessly inhumane towards its inhabitants. Last was a third, commercial world of arterial roads, Tudorbethan suburbia, art deco factories and cinemas; cheap and ersatz, but without the brutality of the second. xxxiv introduction Since Priestley, we could add a fourth and fifth England, or rather a fourth or fifth Britain, as this book attempts to avoid what Tom Nairn calls ‘Englishry’.

The wonderfully silly Edwardian dock building adjacent is now Maxim’s Casino. The area around the former eastern docks and the former Terminus is where most new residential development is concentrated. New Southampton looks much the same as New Everywhere Else, with the proviso that it took them a little while longer to cotton onto the pseudomodernist turn, so pitched roofs and ‘decorative’ banded brickwork continued here for longer than in other cities. It includes the ‘French Quarter’ (Southampton is lucky enough to have only one ‘Quarter’, aside from the aforementioned and as yet unbuilt Cultural Quarter), which contains a ‘Property Café’.

We never used that Americanism (these were the more prosaic Shopping Centres), but I had a birthday in McDonalds with branded party hats and gifts, I ate Donuts and Deep Pan Pizza, and as adolescence hit I listlessly read magazines in WH Smith until I was thrown out. I was glad when I realized there was a word, loitering, for this pastime. Upon moving into the city proper, my affections were transferred to the Marlands, Draft Three of the Sotonian Mall, which replaced a bus station (the city hasn’t had this basic amenity in decades) and encased under fibreglass a fragment of the Victorian street it replaced, eating it up as a gesture of genuflection to complement the atrocious, grinning stone-clad façade.

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