Artificial Islands

Owen Hatherley


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Watkins Media Limited
9 August 2022
ISBN: 9781914420863
345 pages

From the publisher

Great Britain has just left one Union. But might the island’s future lie in another Union altogether, with its former colonial “kith and kin” in a trans-oceanic super-state with Canada, Australia and New Zealand?

Welcome to the strange world of the “CANZUK Union”, the name for a quixotic but apparently serious plan to reunify the white-majority “Dominions” of the British Empire under the flag of low taxes, strong borders and climate change denialism.

Artificial Islands tests this idea that Britain’s closest relations are in these three countries in North America and the South Pacific, through a thorough investigation of the townscapes and buildings of several cities within “CANZUK”. In this settler zone we can find some of the most purely modern landscapes in the world — British-designed cities that were built with extreme rapidity in forcibly seized territories on the other side of the world, created specifically to make the colonisers feel at home.

This book uncovers the secret histories of nineteenth- and twentieth-century British architecture in the Dominions — from Neo-Gothic cathedrals and parliaments, to rows of terraces and suburbs of semis, Edwardian baroque museums and classical war memorials, right up to post-war high-rise estates and Brutalist experiments.