Friday, November 26, 2010

A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain

A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain
by Owen Hatherley • Verso Books, 2010

‘In this angry, fiercely-funny book, Owen Hatherley steps forward as the Pevsner of the PFI generation. He’s an erudite, urbane guide to the Ballardian wreckage of millennial Britain and the tangle of speculation and social engineering that brought it about. Essential reading for anyone who ever feels their blood start to boil when they hear the word “regeneration”.’
Hari Kunzru, author of My Revolutions

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, Owen Hatherley sets out to explore the wreckage – the buildings that epitomized an age of greed and selfish aspiration. From Greenwich to Glasgow, Milton Keynes to Manchester, Hatherley maps the derelict Britain of the 2010s: from riverside apartment complexes, art galleries, and amorphous interactive ‘centres’, to shopping malls and factory conversion lofts. In doing so, he provides a mordant commentary on the urban environment in which we live, work and consume.

By turns scathing, forensic, and bleakly humorous, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain is a coruscating autopsy of a get-rich-quick, aspirational politics, a brilliant, architectural ‘state we’re in’.

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