Bad British Architecture

After laughing myself silly last week with the Tim Moore book, I remembered I’d picked up from the library recently another gem, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain by Owen Hatherley. I found it lurking under a heap of recent acquisitions on the kitchen top behind the kettle and some running shoes. Pressure at work has resulted in a slightly disorganised household.

It’s not as side-splitting as Moore’s account, but Hatherley’s more understated wry humour is nicely supported by a well-informed psychogeographical understanding, with references to the dérive, and Baudelairean urban modernity, and post-modernity as he takes us on a journey through many of the dire building blighting the urban landscape. It’s good to have laughs within an intellectual framework. Makes the Sunday morning coffee break worthy of a triple gold star.

I’m particularly grateful for Hatherley’s book directing me to Bad British Architecture, a fascinating and insightful blog analysing the worst of our daily environment. I’m thinking of submitting some contributions: the Leeds Arena leaps to the forefront of my mind as I cruise past every time I drive to the city centre.

But I find all these books curiously uplifting in a very British way. Delighting as I do in the absurdity of the everyday, I’m thinking of abandoning this year’s holiday in Mauritius in favour of a trawl around Bad Britain in pouring August rain. On second thoughts, I did that throughout my childhood and you can have too much of a good thing. Certainly, though, I’m now desperate to visit Cumbernauld and other oddities, and I’ve suggested a day trip to the girls to Runcorn New Town because I really rather fancy getting lost in a maze of bus lanes.

The joys of shocking design. As long as you don’t have to live with it.


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