Friday, October 11, 2013

Discover Critic Owen Hatherley

I've been a fan of Owen Hatherley for a while, ever since I stumbled on his pro-Brutalist blog sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy. He's young, on the sharp-left of things (one of the few out there) and with a point of view all his own.

Now I've stumbled on his opinion pieces in the British journal BD Online; many of which you can read after a free registration.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

How hi-tech dropped its cutting edge
September 2012
"Guilt had crept into hi-tech — a feeling it had to engage with context, heritage, the “polis”. But this was never part of the original plan. Accordingly, its museum spaces feel the most Disneyfied of all, without any ability to evoke memory or even a convincingly animated disjunction between past and present. Hi-tech became another species of an architecture vaguely ashamed of itself."

Terry Farrell, TVAM Buildng, 1982. Creative Commons/Oxyman, BD
On the long long odds of PoMo works ever being honored with a Heritage listing, which is very close to turning into a defense of same:
Postmodernism: the freak that dare not speak its name
October 2013
"Today, if you really want to épater les bourgeois, you don’t turn to a brutalism long since rehabilitated as either social utopianism or Urban Splashed good taste. No, you turn to pomo."
"Pomo is indelibly associated with Thatcherism, with an era of ruthless reaction sweeping all before it, with the exchange of the welfare state for the legislated greed of neo-liberalism. Perhaps the reason why pomo is the real “freak” is that it expressed that era so well."
"There are few better images of the destruction of social democracy than Farrell and BDP’s Quarry House, that quiffed redbrick penguin, lurking atop the site of the levelled Quarry Hill Flats in Leeds. Today the same policies are enacted, but clothed in a false, guilty austerity."
Benidorm. Source: Creative Commons, BD
On Benidorm and the British tourist:
Sun, sea and Soviet system-building
August 2013
"How is it that [Benidorm] became the destination of choice for British holidaymakers at the exact same point that modernism — of any kind, never mind as domineering, dense and megastructural as this — was apparently being rejected by the Great British Public, all of them desperate to escape their system-built towers for Barratt Homes with pitched roofs and pediments at the end of the driveway?"
"Modernism in the UK may have suffered for being excessively high-minded, something which spoke of austerity, toil, making-do-and-getting-by — but even though the interiors of most council flats were luxurious compared with anything before (and often since), British modernism stopped speaking of ease, luxury, leisure — something even worse in the guilty “vernacular” that dominated social housing since the 1970s."

And here's a full list of his latest pieces.:

 As you can see, their best jibes are all about Guilt, that special British guilty pleasure, especially Class Guilt. What fun!