Make a Donation to the New Books Network

The New Books Network is run by volunteers, but the network has expenses. If you like what we do, consider making a contribution

Zoe Thompson

View on Amazon

What is the fate of culture and urban regeneration in the era of austerity? In Urban Constellations: Spaces of Cultural Regeneration in Post-industrial Britain (Ashgate, 2015),  Zoe Thompson applies critical cultural theory to help understand this question. The book is based on four case studies, of  The Lowry in Salford, The Deep in Hull, The Sage Gateshead and The Public in West Bromwich. These four case studies are read through a variety of methods, including walking and visual methods, along with two key theorists, Jean Baudrillard and Walter Benjamin. Baudrillard and Benjamin are juxtaposed as important thinkers of culture, the symbolic and the urban, in an attempt to show the ambivalences of cultural buildings used for urban regeneration. The buildings are narrated as 'dreamhouses' within the symbolic, as well as the political, economy of post-industrial urban spaces. The book shows how all the case studies offer elements of hope and redemption for their locations, whether as sites for individual's memory, in the case of The Sage, or as collective notions of art and culture, in the example of The Lowry. However the book also shows the risks associated with these spaces, as premature ruins, in the case of the now closed The Public, or sites reminding us of nature's revenge in the form of climate change, as The Deep does. The book will be of interest to a large range of scholars across cultural and urban studies, through to architecture and critical theory, and it has important lessons for contemporary urban policy too.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

David SmileyPedestrian Modern: Shopping and American Architecture, 1925-1956

March 13, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] Most of us have been to strip malls–lines of shops fronted by acres of parking–and most of us have been to closed malls–massive buildings full of shops and surrounded by acres of parking. Fewer of us have been to open malls: small parks ringed by shops with parking carefully tucked out […]

Read the full article →

Anastasia KarandinouNo Matter: Theories and Practices of the Ephemeral in Architecture

January 30, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Critical Theory] The intersection of empirical research and critical theory is the basis for Anastasia Karandinou's new book No Matter: Theories and Practices of the Ephemeral in Architecture (Ashgate, 2013). The book takes as its starting point the growth of interest in ephemeral aspects of architecture, for example sound or time, which has arisen during […]

Read the full article →

Gregory HellerEd Bacon: Planning, Politics, and the Building of Modern Philadelphia

August 12, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Political Science] Gregory Heller is the author of Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics, and the Building of Modern Philadelphia (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). Heller is Senior Advisor at Econsult Solutions, Inc. in Philadelphia. Bacon’s vision and leadership on urban renewal helped to create the physical landscape of what Philadelphia is today. He was central to […]

Read the full article →

Jeffrey Balmer and Michael SwisherDiagramming the Big Idea: Methods for Architectural Composition

May 9, 2013

In their new book Diagramming the Big Idea (Routledge, 2012), Jeffrey Balmer and Michael Swisher offer some new insights into the eternal problem of how creativity works. As you will hear in our interview, they are beginning design instructors and colleagues at University of North Carolina in Charlotte where they teach architecture students how to communicate […]

Read the full article →

Igor MarjanovićMarina City: Bertrand Goldberg’s Urban Vision

June 24, 2012

Anyone who has visited downtown Chicago will remember seeing the dazzling round towers of Bertrand Goldberg's Marina City on the north bank of the river. Often photographed, always a curiosity, these iconic buildings have been featured in numerous magazines, postcards, album covers, and films, but until now have received surprisingly little scholarly attention. In their […]

Read the full article →

John HarwoodThe Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945-1976

June 24, 2012

In his new book, The Interface: IBM and the Transformation of Corporate Design, 1945-1976 (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), architectural historian John Harwood writes the first history of IBM's corporate Design Program and, at the same time, totally rewrites our understanding of the modern corporation and its cultural and material practices. Originally conceived as a […]

Read the full article →

Kimberly ZarecorManufacturing a Socialist Modernity: Housing in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1960

May 31, 2012

[Cross-posted from New Books in History] When I first went to the Soviet Union (in all my ignorance), I was amazed that everyone in Moscow lived in what I called "housing projects." The Russians called them "houses" (doma), but they weren't houses as I understood them at all. They were huge, multi-story, cookie-cutter apartment blocks, one […]

Read the full article →

Greg CastilloCold War on the Home Front: The Soft Power of Midcentury Design

March 9, 2011

[Crossposted from New Books in History] If you grew up in the 1960s or 1970s in suburbia, you probably lived in a smallish ranch house that looked like this. That house probably had an "ultra modern" kitchen that probably looked like this. I grew up in such a house and it had such a kitchen. […]

Read the full article →