This is what austerity looks like: a nation surviving on the results of what conservatives privately call “the progressive nonsense” of the Big Society agenda.
In a journey that begins and ends in the capital, but takes in Belfast, Aberdeen, Plymouth and Brighton, Hatherley explores modern Britain’s urban landscape and finds a short-sighted disarray of empty buildings, malls and glass towers. Yet while A New Kind of Bleak anatomizes “broken Britain,” Hatherley also looks to a hopeful future and discovers fragments of what it might look like.
Illustrated by Laura Oldfield Ford, author and artist of Savage Messiah.
About A New Kind of Bleak
In A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, Owen Hatherley skewered New Labour’s architectural legacy in all its witless swagger. Now, in the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, he sets out to describe what the Coalition’s altogether different approach to economic mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the places where the British live.
In a journey that begins and ends in the capital, Hatherley takes us from Plymouth and Brighton to Belfast and Aberdeen, by way of the eerie urbanism of the Welsh valleys and the much-mocked splendour of modernist Coventry. Everywhere outside the unreal Southeast, the building has stopped in towns and cities, which languish as they wait for the next bout of self-defeating austerity.
Hatherley writes with unrivalled aggression about the disarray of modern Britain, and yet this remains a book about possibilities remembered, about unlikely successes in the midst of seemingly inexorable failure. For as well as trash, ancient and modern, Hatherley finds signs of the hopeful country Britain once was and hints of what it might become.