Owen Hatherley

Owen Hatherley is the culture editor of Tribune. His most recent book is Trans-Europe Express: Tours of a Lost Continent.

From The Blog
8 May 2020

Kraftwerk seemed to be aiming at a kind of electronic Esperanto, an imaginary universal language that anyone could learn, anyone could speak, anyone could dance to.

The Jubilee Line​ used to be one of the better London Underground lines to travel on if, like me, you have Crohn’s disease. When the line was extended in the late 1990s, some of the new stations – Stratford, Canada Water, North Greenwich – were equipped with toilets, a great rarity on the Tube. They weren’t very nice, but if you’re liable to need the loo...

Where are all the people? Jane Jacobs

Owen Hatherley, 27 July 2017

In Enrica Colusso​’s film Home Sweet Home, about the recently ‘decanted’ Heygate Estate in Elephant and Castle, southeast London, a town planner explains why nearly all the buildings around him – a large council estate and a covered shopping centre – have to be demolished. They’re not real streets, he says. They’re monocultures – allowing for...

Strange, Angry Objects: The Brutalist Decades

Owen Hatherley, 17 November 2016

‘For us​,’ Steffen Ahrends told his son Peter, who was born in Berlin in 1933, ‘the history of architecture started with the Soviet 1917 revolution.’ It wasn’t entirely a joke. For many designers in the Weimar Republic, and for subsequent generations of modernist hardliners, 1917 had made possible a reconstruction of life on collective, egalitarian and, above...

One Click at a Time

Owen Hatherley, 30 June 2016

In the end postcapitalism, like postmodernism, is the name of an absence, not a positive programme. Like the anticapitalism of the early 2000s, it tells you what it’s not: in this case, the old left, folk politics, social democracy or Stalinism, with their hierarchies and lack of cool free stuff. Postcapitalism, like precapitalism, could be feudalism or slavery or some Threads-like nightmare of devastated cities and radioactive nomads. It tells you that the forces of production make something possible, then suggests either that you demand it, or that you’re already doing it.

#lowerthanvermin: Nye Bevan

Owen Hatherley, 7 May 2015

When the Health and Social Care Bill was passed into law at the start of 2012, it elicited one of those usually impotent hashtag campaigns seen so often on Twitter, where thousands of people using the same tag manifest the strength of the collective will. An earlier and very popular hashtag, #welovetheNHS, had been started in response to the claim by opponents of Obama’s ‘public option’ in US healthcare that the NHS was a widely hated basket case. Then, each contributor had supplied an anecdote about something the NHS had done for them or for their relatives.

Who will stop them? The Neo-Elite

Owen Hatherley, 23 October 2014

Part of what makes Owen Jones such a phenomenally successful figure by left-of-Labour standards is his ability to be several things at once. He is both insider, reporting back to ‘us’ about what ‘they’ think, and outsider, as shocked and angry about it as ‘we’ might be. He was brought up in Sheffield, Falkirk and Stockport and speaks in a sharp Mancunian accent, but he is also an Oxford graduate, with all the connections that can entail. He has Westminster experience as a parliamentary researcher, but to John McDonnell.

One simple way of grasping the magnitude of what has happened to London over the last thirty years is to compare the introductions to the first and most recent editions of Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward’s Guide to the Architecture of London. In 1983, they wrote of a city in decline, its population down by about a sixth from its postwar height.

Jonathan Meades, for the last thirty years Britain’s most consistently surprising and informative writer on the built environment, has finally published a book on the subject. A volume did appear in 1988 – English Extremists, written with Deyan Sudjic and Peter Cook, celebrating the postmodern architects Campbell Zogolovitch Wilson Gough – but since then his medium has been television. Meades has never been a fully paid-up architectural correspondent; he argues in Museum without Walls that taking up such a job helped destroy Ian Nairn.

Almost Lovable: What Stalin Built

Sheila Fitzpatrick, 30 July 2015

Back in the day, everyone knew that Stalinist architecture was hateful.

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It hits in the gut

Will Self, 8 March 2012

Owen Hatherley understands the dangers of ‘nostalgia for the future’, but he’s too far gone to pull out.

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