Owen Hatherley

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Owen Hatherley
Hatherley in 2009
Born (1981-07-24) 24 July 1981 (age 42)
Alma materGoldsmiths, University of London
Birkbeck, University of London
  • writer
  • author
Writing career
Notable worksA Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain
The Ministry of Nostalgia
Scientific career
Thesis The Political Aesthetics of Americanism in Weimar Germany and the Soviet Union, 1919-34  (2011)
Doctoral advisorEsther Leslie

Owen Hatherley (born 24 July 1981 in Southampton, England) is a British writer and journalist based in London who writes primarily on architecture, politics and culture.

Early life[edit]

Hatherley was born in Southampton in 1981, growing up in a 1930s suburban estate. He describes his parents as "trots" who were members of Militant.[2] [3] At the age of 12, he moved to the Flowers Estate in Bassett Green, which he disliked, later saying: "I couldn't wait to get out of the sodding place, and the pitched roofs and front gardens didn’t exactly relieve the unpleasantness."[3] When he was 16, he read England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage, which inspired him to move to London to study.[4] He studied at Goldsmiths, University of London, graduating in 2001.[5] He then received a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London in 2011.[6] His supervisor was Esther Leslie.[7]


Hatherley started a blog, The Measures Taken,[8] in 2005.[9] He would go on to publish pieces elsewhere, including articles for Socialist Worker from 2006 to 2008, articles for New Humanist since 2007,[10] and articles for Building Design from 2008 to 2014.[11]

Hatherley's first book, Militant Modernism, was published by Zero Books in 2009. The Guardian described the book as an "intelligent and passionately argued attempt to 'excavate utopia' from the ruins of modernism" and an "exhilarating manifesto for a reborn socialist modernism".[12] Icon described the book as "sparky, polemical and ferociously learned" although it "falters a little towards the end";[13] while Jonathan Meades in the New Statesman described the book as a "deflected Bildungsroman of a very clever, velvet-gloved provocateur nostalgic for yesterday's tomorrow, for a world made before he was born, a distant, preposterously optimistic world which, even though it still exists in scattered fragments, has had its meaning erased, its possibilities defiled" and Hatherley "as a commentator on architecture...in a school of one".[14] The journal Planning Perspectives suggested that the book "nicely explores the irony of the potential status of the remains of future-oriented architecture and urban design as ‘modern heritage'".[15]

His book A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, which was based on a series of articles he wrote for Building Design, was published by Verso in 2010.[16] Landscapes of Communism: A History Through Buildings, a history of communism in Europe told through the built environments of former socialist states, was published by Allen Lane in June 2015.[17] In 2018, he released two books, Trans-Europe Express with Allen Lane, and The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet Space with Repeater Books.[18]

Hatherley has written for Dezeen, Building Design, The Guardian, Icon, the London Review of Books, New Humanist, the New Statesman, Socialist Review, Socialist Worker, Dissent and Jacobin Magazine. He has maintained three blogs, Sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy, The Measures Taken and Kino Fist.

In January 2019, Hatherley joined Tribune magazine as the editor for its new Culture section.[19]


Hatherley has described himself as a communist "at least in the sense in which the word was used in The Communist Manifesto". He wrote that "revolution might be a rather exciting thing, one that would transform the world, and transform space, for the better. Worth doing. Why not try it."[20]


  • Militant Modernism (Zero Books, 2009)
  • A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain (Verso, 2010). ISBN 978-1-84467-700-9
  • Uncommon: An Essay on Pulp (Zero Books, 2011)
  • A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys through Urban Britain (Verso, 2012). ISBN 978-1-78168-075-9
  • Across the Plaza: The Public Voids of the Post-Soviet City (Strelka Press, 2012)
  • Landscapes of Communism (Allen Lane, 2015). ISBN 978-0-14-197589-4
  • The Ministry of Nostalgia (Verso, 2016)
  • The Chaplin Machine: Slapstick, Fordism and the Communist Avant-Garde (Pluto Press, 2016). ISBN 978-0-7453-3601-5
  • Trans-Europe Express (Allen Lane, 2018). ISBN 978-0-14-199157-3
  • The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet Space (Repeater Books, 2018). ISBN 978-1-912248-26-1
  • Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London (Repeater Books, 2020). ISBN 978-1-913462-20-8
  • Editor of The Alternative Guide to the London Boroughs for Open House London (2020)
  • Clean Living Under Difficult Circumstances (Verso, 2021). ISBN 978-1-83976-221-5
  • Artificial Islands: Adventures in the Dominions (Repeater Books, 2022). ISBN 978-1-914420-86-3
  • Ukrainian Postcards: A Limited eBook in Aid of Ukrainian Workers and Artists (Repeater Books, 2022). ISBN 978-1-914420-50-4
  • Modern Buildings in Britain: A Gazetteer (Penguin, 2022). ISBN 978-0-241-53463-2


  1. ^ "Owen Hatherley". Four Thought. 17 November 2011. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  2. ^ "Socialism Today – Building bloc". socialismtoday.org.
  3. ^ a b "Militant Modernist: Owen Hatherley -". 13 August 2009.
  4. ^ Hatherley, Owen (5 August 2014). "England's Dreaming introduced me to power, urbanism and London | Owen Hatherley". The Guardian.
  5. ^ ""Goldsmiths CCA is a high-end art gallery not a squat, and it is unseemly for it to pretend to be one"". Dezeen. 26 September 2018.
  6. ^ "'Revisiting Utopia' talk by Owen Hatherley". 20 February 2019.
  7. ^ Seaton, Lola (12 March 2021). "Owen Hatherley: "I really hoped that with Grenfell the 'metropolitan elite' debate would just die"". New Statesman. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  8. ^ Hatherley, Owen. The Measures Taken.
  9. ^ Seaton, Lola. 'Owen Hatherley: “I really hoped that with Grenfell the ‘metropolitan elite’ debate would just die”'. New Statesman. 12 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Contributor: Owen Hatherley". New Humanist.
  11. ^ "Contributor: Owen Hatherley". Building Design.
  12. ^ PD Smith, Militant Modernism, The Guardian, 9 May 2009
  13. ^ William Wiles, Review: Militant Modernism, Icon
  14. ^ Jonathan Meades, 'Yesterday's tomorrows', New Statesman, 30 April 2009
  15. ^ Dan Hicks, Militant Modernism, Planning Perspectives, 25(2) (April 2010)
  16. ^ Wright, Patrick (24 October 2010). "A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain: Owen Hatherley". Architecture Today. Architecture Today. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  17. ^ Fitzpatrick, Sheila (30 July 2015). "Almost Lovable". London Review of Books. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
  18. ^ "The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet Space | Repeater Books | Repeater Books". Repeater Books. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  19. ^ Hatherley, Owen (10 January 2019). "Introducing Tribune's Culture Section". Tribune.
  20. ^ Hatherley, Owen (2015). Landscapes of Communism. Allen Lane.

External links[edit]