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Nairn's London


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How do we see the world around us? This is one of a number of pivotal works by creative thinkers whose writings on art, design and the media have changed our vision for ever.

About the Author

Ian Nairn (1930-1983) was a hugely influential and pugnacious architectural critic, inventor of the crushing term 'subtopia' and central to the growth of the British conservation movement. He co-wrote with Nikolaus Pevsner the Sussex volume in the Buildings of England series. London was his great obsession and Nairn's London his lasting monument. He once paid his wife the compliment of stating that she 'would certainly have been in Nairn's London had she only been made of brick or stucco'.


A masterpiece ... Nairn was a poet ... Nairn's London belongs to no genre save its own, it is of a school of one ... There is barely a page which does not contain some startling turn of phrase -- Jonathan Meades
Once you discover him, which in my case was through my dad's copy of Nairn's London, you want to read everything he's written ... He was a literary romantic, with a poetic sensibility -- Andrew M. Brown * Daily Telegraph *
He taught us how to look -- Deyan Sudjic
One of the finest and most evocative books ever written about a city ... He could see beauty where others just saw dirt, chaos and decay. He delighted in the obscure ... it took me to wonderful buildings and unusual places I probably would not otherwise have discovered. Everything he wrote is worth rereading. During his short, furious, productive career, Ian Nairn had a more beneficial effect on the face of Britain than any other architectural writer of his time ... a great and hugely rewarding book -- Gavin Stamp
His attacks on the banality of Britain's postwar buildings made Ian Nairn an inspiration for a generation of architectural critics. -- Jonathan Glancey * Guardian *
Arguably the finest architectural writer of the twentieth century ... vivid, sensual descriptions of buildings, a way of writing about architecture that I'd never imagined possible before ... his masterpiece ... a work of architectural criticism and architectural history of huge sophistication and erudition, a rum, bawdy and drunken dance up a back alley, a hymn to those rare moments where the individual and the collective meet -- Owen Hatherley
One of the best and oddest guidebooks to any city ever written -- Simon Bradley * Evening Standard *
He had the gift of the potent image, making buildings and places animate or human ... anyone who cares even slightly about their surroundings should be intensely grateful ... His common themes are a passion for character, distinctiveness, contrast and surprise, for the unselfconscious and the visceral, and a matching loathing for the statistical, the phoney, the cold, the tepid, the routine, the indifferent and for what he called the "prettification" of places ... His approach was personal and visual, to capture emotional reactions in front of buildings, and record them with literate beauty -- Rowan Moore * Observer *
Ian Nairn taught me and a lot of us to look at the world -- David Thomson

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