Concretopia: A Brutal Decade with John Grindrod

23rd November 2023 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
The Bookseller Crow
50 Westow Hill
London SE19 1RX
Jonathan Main

Concretopia: A Brutal Decade
Was it really ten years ago when John Grindrod made such a splash with his fabulous book Concretopia? Well yes it was, so on Thursday 23rd November, 7.30pm join us for a unique evening when John reflects on the state of Britain’s post-war modern buildings now, and tells some untold tales from the making of the book.

Tower Blocks. Flyovers. Streets in the Sky.
Once, this was the future.

From 1945 to 1979,  Concretopia is the story of how blitzed, slum-ridden and crumbling ‘austerity Britain’ became, in a few short years, a space-age world of concrete, steel and glass. Prefabs, the Festival of Britain, the blitz rebuilding of Coventry and Plymouth, the new towns of Cwmbran, Harlow, Cumbernauld and Milton Keynes, the rise of brutalism, Park Hill in Sheffield, high rise flats in the Gorbals and Newcastle, Arndale centres, the Bull Ring in Birmingham, Centre Point and Space House by Richard Seifert, Span and New Ash Green, the Poulson and T Dan Smith scandal, Ronan Point, the Barbican and the National Theatre.

‘Never has a trip from Croydon and back again been so fascinating. John Grindrod’s witty and informative tour of Britain is a total treat, and will win new converts to stare in awe (or at least enlightened comprehension) at Crap towns and Boring Postcards . . .’
CATHERINE CROFT, Director, Twentieth Century Society

‘Charming . . . Concretopia could pleasingly be read by anyone in Britain who lives in a postwar Modernist structure and has a love-hate relationship with it. Part-travelogue, part-history, Grindrod’s account walks us through in touchingly precise detail the decisions that led to such buildings as the BT Tower, the Barbican, Coventry Cathedral and the blocks of New Ash . . . We don’t think of architectural beauty as key to well-being and yet, as this book shows us, it profoundly is.’

Concretopia is almost certainly the first history of the post-war modernist project in British cities and towns, and it is without doubt the first to try and address a non-architectural, non-specialist audience … [It’s] about the best history of the intersection of post-war architecture and politics (often with a small “p”) that you could hope for – personal, erudite, even-handed and driven by a subtle, but still present underlying anger at the dismantling of the Welfare State under the dubious banner of “austerity”.’