Saturday, 11 June 2016

Books - 'Nightwalking", "Street Haunting", "Concretopia", "A New Kind of Bleak", "Scarp", "Estates", & "London Orbital"

A continuation of my previous book recommendations blogpost - "Books - 'Edgelands', 'Geography Of Nowhere', 'Non-Places', 'Night Walks', & 'The Sublime'" - however this time these are books that I have not read but do keep appearing in mentions in a variety of places.

click here to buy at Waterstone's online Marketplace
'Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London', 2015
By Matthew Beaumont
ISBN-13: 978-1784783785 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1781687956 (hardback)

Matthew Beaumont brings the description of a contemporary nocturnal London and its history to the page. Following in the footsteps of Dickens, Woolf, and others he outlines views around walking at night in past times and the descriptions and perceptions of those that did so.

'Nightwalking in London' - in the following podcast Matthew Beaumont talks to presenter N Quentin Woolf about his book

'Nightwalking & the city: In Discussion with Matthew Beaumont' an interview by Novara Media .

An indepth article, "Nightwalking: a subversive stroll through the city streets",  written by Matthew Beaumont for the Guardian as an introduction to his subject of Nightwalking can be read here - here

A new article (2016) by Matthew Beaumont has appeared in the Guardian picking up on all themes already mentioned above. "The heart of darkness that still beats within our 24-hour cities" - link
A review of the book on the Guardian website can be read here

click here to buy at Waterstone's online Marketplace

'Street Haunting', 2005 (Penguin version out of print. Original version printed 1927)
By Virginia Woolf
ISBN-13: 978-0141022468 (paperback )

In Virginia Woolf’s 1927 essay ‘Street Haunting’, the narrator explores this imaginative act of dipping in and out of people’s minds as they move through the city’s wintry, twilight streets. From prime ministers to the homeless, the narrator examines the city’s inhabitants and the spaces they occupy. ‘What greater delight and wonder can there be than to leave the straight lines of personality’, the narrator asks, to feel ‘that one is not tethered to a single mind, but can put on briefly for a few minutes the bodies and minds of others’. (Description from the British Library website )

A version of Virginia Woolf's "Street Haunting - A London Adventure" which
can be read online here and here

An article in the Independent by Emma Woolf, great neice to Virginia Woolf,  "Literary haunts: Virginia's London walks", 2011. 

click here to buy at Waterstone's online Marketplace

'Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain', 2013
By John Grindrod
ISBN-13: 978-1908699893 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1906964900 (hardback)

"Was Britain's postwar rebuilding the height of midcentury chic or the concrete embodiment of Crap Towns? John Grindrod decided to find out how blitzed, slum-ridden and crumbling 'austerity Britain' became, in a few short years, a space-age world of concrete, steel and glass.
On his journey he visits the sleepy Norfolk birthplace of Brutalism, the once-Blitzed city centre of Plymouth, the futuristic New Town of Cumbernauld, Sheffield's innovative streets in the sky, the foundations of the BT tower, and the brave 1950s experiments in the Gorbals. Along the way he meets New Town pioneers, tower block builders, Barbican architects, old retainers of Coventry Cathedral, proud prefab dwellers and sixties town planners: people who lived through a time of phenomenal change and excitement.
What he finds is a story of dazzling optimism, ingenuity and helipads -- so many helipads -- tempered by protests, deadly collapses and scandals that shook the government.
Acclaimed by critics from all sides of the political spectrum, Concretopia is an witty and revealing history of an aspect of Britain often ignored, insulted and misunderstood. It will change the way you look at Arndale Centres, tower blocks and concrete forever.
Catherine Croft, Director, Twentieth Century Society

John Grindrod explains his aims for the book in this following BBC interview.

John Grindrod in this lecture for the 2014 BORING conference explores 60's utopian city planning through Ladybird visions of modern Britain.

click here to buy at Waterstone's online Marketplace

'A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys Through Urban Britain', 2012
By Owen Hatherley
ISBN-13: 978-1781680759 (paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1844678570 (hardback)

Speaking in 2012 Owen Hatherley presents ideas of his then new book to the Architecture Foundation.

This following talk explores the 'mismatched ideologies' of Brutalism and Heritage, through examples of condemned post-war buildings that have either been saved or attempted to be saved by architectural enthusiasts, including Park Hill, Birmingham Central Library and Preston Bus Station. The talk was delivered as part of 'Revisiting Utopia: Modernist Architecture in the Post Regenerate City'
 "I’d often idly wonder when the riots would come: when the situation of organic delis next to pound shops, of crumbling maisonettes next to furiously speculated-on Victoriana, of artists shipped into architect-designed Brutalist towers to make them safe for Regeneration, of endless boosterist self-congratulation, would finally collapse in on itself… What I don’t understand is how absolutely anyone in any large British city could possible be shocked by all this. This is urban Britain, and though the cuts have made it worse, the damage was done long before."
- Owen Hatherley, A New Kind of Bleak

click here to buy at Waterstone's online Marketplace

'Scarp', 2012
By Nick Papadimitriou
ISBN-13: 978-1444723397(paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1444723380 (hardback)

'The London Perambulator' a 45 minute documentary following Nick Papadimitriou and his psychogeographical explorations of London.

click here to buy at Waterstone's online Marketplace

'Estates: : An Intimate History', 2012
By Lynsey Hanley
ISBN-13: 978-1847087027(paperback)

Lynsey Hanley was born and raised just outside of Birmingham on what was then the largest council estate in Europe, and she has lived for years on an estate in London's East End. Writing with passion, humour and a sense of history, she recounts the rise of social housing a century ago, its adoption as a fundamental right by leaders of the social welfare state in the mid-century and its decline - as both idea and reality - in the 1960s and '70s. Throughout, Hanley focuses on how shifting trends in urban planning and changing government policies - from Homes Fit for Heroes to Le Corbusier's concrete tower blocks, to the Right to Buy - affected those so often left out of the argument over council estates: the millions of people who live on them. What emerges is a vivid mix of memoir and social history, an engaging and illuminating book about a corner of society that the rest of Britain has left in the dark.

Lynsey is interviewed by Little Atoms in this following audio

click here to buy at Waterstone's online Marketplace

'London Orbital', 2002
By Iain Sinclair
ISBN-13: 978-0141014746(paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1862075474(hardback)

"Encircling London like a noose, the M25 is a road to nowhere, but when Iain Sinclair sets out to walk this asphalt loop - keeping within the 'acoustic footprints' - he is determined to find out where the journey will lead him. Stumbling upon converted asylums, industrial and retail parks, ring-fenced government institutions and lost villages, Sinclair discovers a Britain of the fringes, a landscape consumed by developers. London Orbital charts this extraordinary trek and round trip of the soul, revealing the country as you've never seen it before."

A fascinating documentary is at this following link. Created to go alongside the release of "London Orbital" the film is created using footage collected over several decades by Iain Sinclair with writing by Christopher Petit
"A filmmaker sets out to make a voyage of discovery on London's orbital motorway, the M25. He enlists the help of several others to film the motorway from several points, drive endlessly around it and dig up stories and potential beauty behind the motorway."