Rare Books at Canterbury. Outrage by Ian Nairn

The focus for this blog is a reprint [1956] of the June 1955, Special Number of the Architectural Review.

Nairn wrote the text with the hope it would make the audience angry enough to do something about the perceived destruction of their surroundings. He hoped to ignite public opinion; Nairn wanted to change the heart and direction of Public Authorities.

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‘This “1955” on the land surface will become “1984” on ourselves’.

Nairn established his reputation with the special issue of The Architectural Review called “Outrage”.  It was based around a road trip that Nairn took from the south to the north of the country. This trip propelled his fears that society was heading for a drab and dreary new world where the whole of Britain would look like the fringes of a town, every view exactly the same. He coined the term ‘Subtopia’ to describe those areas around cities, which in his view had been failed by urban planning.

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This thing of terror, which will get you up sweating at night when you begin to realize its true proportions, we have called, as we say, Subtopia.’

The conclusion in this book is a short anthology of the philosophical background to Subtopia stated in its widest terms, from the nineteenth-century prophecy to the time of this publication and beyond with mankind’s reaction to the outcome.

 

 

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