What a rant

All critics know the joy of writing a bad review, the way that the dripping venom can lubricate the keyboard. So what fun Martin Latham has had in his new book Londonopolis, banging away about Brutalist architecture, extracted here.

I'm not enough of a historian to confound all his arguments, but he certainly has fun with this list of villains, confounding architects of some merit with a charlatan and criminal like John Pawson. The piece starts with a photograph of Sir Basil Spence's Knightsbridge Barracks (shown below). 

Unfortunately for Latham's argument, the barracks look simply splendid in the photo (better, I must admit, than I have seen them looking in real life).

Latham dismissed not just individual architects but also the entire Bauhasu movement. And his arguments become a little too ad hominem at times. There is something uncomfortable about sentences such as 'Little did the Führer know that those 100 or so Bauhaus members would achieve, by inspiration, what the full might of his air force failed to do: the disruption of London’s traditional skyline.' Or, 'Seifert was a wheeler-dealer who dropped his Jewish first name, Rubin, and mysteriously styled himself Colonel Seifert.'

Like many such rants, it was evidently more fun to write than it is to read. But still worth a look.



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