Sunday, 8 March 2009


There's a new (old) kid on the architectural cynic circuit, and bloody hell they're good (bad).

The ghost of Ian Nairn has decided that no punches are to pulled. It's a shame that somebody needs to do this, but most of what they have written thus far has been pretty astute, in the Charlie Brooker vein. Personally, I think that it's perhaps a bit unfair to single out British architecture in particular for this kind of vicious critique, as it suggests that there is some kind of architecture somewhere else that is markedly better, and I'm not convinced of that one.

If it's true that there is now a definite full stop on the building boom of the last decade and a half then perhaps it's time to pause, take a deep breath, and admit that the architecture produced in that period has been on the whole pretty fucking terrible. Nearly every architect appears to have been on Blairite autopilot, designing barcode facades and iconic rooflines, commissioned by sub-scumbag developers who think that studio flats ought to count as affordable housing. The changes in contracts have accelerated the process towards utter obsolescence that the architecture profession has embarked upon, and have given us a generation of cheap-as-shit tin boxes for buildings wrapped in awful faux-cheery multicoloured kit kat wrappers. Well, at least there's no visible concrete though, eh? The Academy has spent much of the last twenty years pretending to know what they're talking about when they drop various French names beginning with D, organising hermetic conferences where they speak in tongues and convince themselves that there's something new and subversive about wobbly roofs, generally ignoring any of the political implications of the work that they do, while the students spend a large proportion of their short lives working themselves into the ground in the hope of proving that they're worth hiring for free...

Oh well. Anyway; Bad British Architecture is very funny, and not at all fair. People have been trying their hardest, after all...

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