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on 19 July 2012
This a superbly well written book in which Hatherley visits a series of UK cities in the manner of a 21st century Pevsner with strong hints of Meades, Priestly and Nairn, commenting with wit, disdain and sometimes pleasure on the good, the bad and the frankly awful buildings he finds. Much of the text is devoted to the badly designed, poorly specified and shoddily built - yet extremely expensive - tat that has disfigured so many cities in the last 20 - 30 years. Thatcherite greed followed by, er, Blairite greed. Will there be a Cameron-Clegg architecture? Let's hope not. Hatherley heaps derision on bar coded windows, stuck-on metal panels and the microscopic size of most new housing. He slates the sheer nastiness of the malls and the out-of-town sheds and pulls no punches when discussing who is to blame for all this. There are spirited defences, too, of the better buildings from the post war period and a passionate (sorry for the cliché) appeal to the idea of the city. How sad it is to see that the Olympic opening ceremony (always rubbish, I agree) is to represent Britain as some sort of puerile rural fantasy!
The only criticism I can make is that of the book itself. I mean here, the physical object and not the text. The pictures are atrociously printed; the paper cheap and why is it that a writer who so clearly believes in Britain as a `maker' has had his book printed in Sweden? That aside I wait eagerly for the next book.
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on 29 November 2012
Hatherley's journeys highlight the vacuousness of much of the current British architecture and planning, but unlike some of his other writing this book more than hints at a more interesting past and possible future.
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on 28 December 2015
If you like his work this is great but a bit more wordy. Great humour in places.
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on 29 November 2013
Doubtless well written and probably justified at quite a naive level. However, I can't help but feel that Hatherley is a bit like an architectural vampire or ghoul. He seems to thrive on seeking out and decrying the worst aspects of the urban landscape without having much idea of what to do about it. One suspects that that he has never actually been involved in the process of commercial building design or acquisition. I suspect that if he were to leave the rarified and grey world he inhabits, the compromises demanded by the capitalist system upon which he depends for a living may come as a bit of a shock. Its probably a little ironic that if everything were perfect, he'd probably have to find another job.

If you want to see hope there's plenty of people out there with actual ideas - not just criticism.

Save your money for something more positive.
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on 7 July 2013
The theme of this book is very good. Unfortunately Hatherley is too focussed on what has gone wrong to allow him space to put forward practicable, better alternative approaches to town and city development. OK but not a crucial book for your library
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on 28 April 2014
A salutary but ultimately depressing read. Yes, it is a view of the urban landscape that is only too familiar (although true).
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on 29 November 2013
Bought for my daughter who really likes Owen Hatherway . She has just bought another of his books so she must have enjoyed it
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