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4.6 out of 5 stars
71
Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on 17 January 2016
I downloaded this book to see what a book about concrete could be about. I expected it to be a dul

I downloaded this book to see what a book about concrete could possibly be about. I got a surprise. It is about the reconstruction of Britain's post second world war bomb out towns and slum clearance, covering a period from about the 1950's to the end of the 1970's. The author tells about why new towns were build, and designed the way they were. He also describes the ideology behind the town centres and some of the period's iconic buildings. It is story of the success and failure of these ideas. It gives an insight not only into the building boom and corruption of the time but also into the more noble ideology and hopes of town planners and architects who were trying to forge a better Britian. I for one denegrated the concrete of the era and despised the ugliness of most modern buildings. Since reading this book I have begun to look at modern architecture in a new way. I have now become more deserning in condemnation and praise because I understand better the aims behind the works. This change of attitude has made this book work for me, after all books should make us think, I think. I have also come to understand better what these buildings and centres were in reaction to, this is something I had never concidered before. All in all I was very suprised by this book. I would recommend it as a read for anyone, but if you are interersted in social history I woud certainly suggest you give it a read. It has a nice light touch of someone passionate about the world he lives in.
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on 30 December 2015
This is a thorough explanation of what happened to Britain after the war. The writer was brought up in New Addington. I have been through it many times, have friends who live there and who used to live there. I've acted for many residents-some criminals, some not. It is concrete building at its worst. Yet some like it.
Of the other places mentioned in the book I've stayed in Parkleys.That's good because it has pleasant gardens and a sound maintenance scheme.
Too many post war buildings were flung up without too much thought, nor have they been well maintained. St Georges Walk in Croydon looks as if it hasn't been cleaned since it was built.
The author is sympathetic to concrete and to many of the architects. The Primary School at Hunstanton sounds a horror(freezing in winter, boiling in summer). He mentions this yet does not condemn.
We're treated to an account of Poulson and T.Dan Smith, the most flagrant abusers of the system.
For anyone who wants to understand the bad building and the good that they see around them in big towns and cities, read this. A significant book.
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on 3 October 2016
Interesting and informative book. I feel this book has really added interest to my life. As I go around my normal day, whenever I see any housing estate, commuting, on the TV, just generally around and about, I think of this book and what I have learnt about the type of housing I see - it has far-reaching effects beyond the time spent reading the book, which was very interesting in itself. It is a historical account of pre-concrete, and then concrete building - primarily housing, but some other public buildings, and the thoughts behind them - not only the architecture but the social effects, as well as being a commentary on the social environment and eras in which building and construction took place.
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on 8 November 2015
This is a lovely book. The author is interested in post-war housing and architecture, and at a very human level. Lots of nice interviews and vignettes woven in, with architects and residents. He acknowledges both the successes and the failures. Anyone interesting in the place they live, how society changes, post-war architecture, or twentieth century social history will enjoy this book.
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on 16 February 2015
As a review of the post-war fascination with modern building methods, this seems very good. It takes the reader from the post-war need for speedy building of homes through the brutalist architecture fashionable in the sixties and seventies to more recent developments. It does not include everything (no mention of Thamesmead, even in passing), but it would probably have had to be twice as long to do so. It is a personal journey round the country visiting places as diverse as Cumbernauld, Coventry Cathedral, and Milton Keynes, meeting those. An enjoyable read.
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on 6 May 2015
This was a thoughtful reflection on the legacy of modernist construction in the UK and is well worth reading if your experience is purely of cheaply built tower blocks using system building. I live near to Coventry so it was great to be able to relate to the places mentioned and compare them against others in the book.
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on 17 February 2015
I was brought up in Crawley New Town in the 1950s. After reading Concretopia I understand just how radically this post war environment shaped its children. Grindrod (is that a nom de plume?) presents a fascinating, insightful and engagingly written account of how the built environment creates our aspirations. Now I know why I yearned for a thatched cottage with roses round the door.
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on 24 February 2015
As a child of the 50s "New Addington" experiment I felt in tune with the author's analysis of post war Britain town planning.
Nicely written and easy to read.
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on 30 March 2018
Arrived on time and exactly as described. Thank you.
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on 30 June 2015
In the '70's I remembered hearing about 'The Poulson Affair' and T Dan Smith being court but I never knew what it was all about. Thanks to John Grindrod for enlightening me! This is a passionate, intelligent and witty account of why we live the way we do now. The final paragraph reduced me to tears. So worth it :)
One person found this helpful
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