By Owen Hatherley
An anatomy of failed-state Britain, via the writer of A advisor to the hot Ruins of significant 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 yr of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, he units out to explain what the Coalition’s altogether various method of monetary mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the areas the place the British stay.
In a trip that starts off and results in the capital, Hatherley takes us from Plymouth and Brighton to Belfast and Aberdeen, in terms of the eerie urbanism of the Welsh valleys and the much-mocked splendour of modernist Coventry. far and wide outdoors the bogus Southeast, the construction has stopped in cities and towns, which languish as they watch for 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 ebook approximately probabilities remembered, approximately not likely successes in the course of doubtless inexorable failure. For in addition to trash, old and sleek, Hatherley unearths symptoms of the hopeful nation Britain as soon as used to be and tricks of what it may well become.
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By far the most expensive and controversial project in HafenCity is Herzog & de Meuron’s Elbphilharmonie. It is a large swooping thing at the end of one of these rectilinear streets, completely ignoring their context of neatness and self-effacement. It is, respectively, a hotel, a car park, luxury penthouses and a concert hall, this xxx in t roduc tion last a preposterous Caspar David Friedrich thing billowing and crashing atop a 1960s warehouse. It was not initially part of the HafenCity plan at all; it was the private project of two local ‘business leaders’ who personally commissioned Herzog & de Meuron to draw up a ‘landmark’ scheme for the site, claiming that they would pay for the execution, holding many fundraising dinners among Hamburg millionaires in order to do so.
Riots always start with an immediate grievance – a hugely corrupt police force shooting a man to death, this time – and become a free-for-all, where people exploit the absence of the law, in which the people who suffer are often innocent. Rioting is a politics of despair; but to claim that these riots are somehow different, somehow ‘neoliberal’, because of the allegedly novel phenomenon of mass looting, is asinine. It would have been wrong to cheer on rioters against corner shopkeepers trying to defend their already small livelihoods; but it is equally wrong to pretend that this had nothing to do with the demonization of the young and poor, nothing to do with our brutally unequal society and our pathetic trickle-down attempts at palliation.
The likely result? ’ We ’ve long congratulated ourselves, in London, on the fact that we have no banlieue. We felt especially smug about it when zoned, segregated Paris rioted a few years ago. It’s not like it’s untrue – irrespective of the existence of a Thamesmead or a Chelmlsey Wood, our poverty is not solely concentrated in peripheral housing estates, at least not yet. Oxford might try not xliv in t roduc tion to think about Blackbird Leys, but London, Manchester/Salford, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Nottingham – the cities that erupted in August 2011 – these places by and large have the rich next to the poor, £1,000,000 Georgian terraces next to estates with some of the deepest poverty in the EU.