Living with Buildings

Living with Buildings : And Walking with Ghosts - On Health and Architecture

3.26 (41 ratings by Goodreads)
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'A remarkable book; surprisingly gripping and often very moving ... stories weave and unweave over the book's course, patterning thought into a complex built environment, at once disorientating and illuminating.' Robert Macfarlane

We shape ourselves, and are shaped in return, by the walls that contain us. Buildings affect how we sleep, work, socialise and even breathe. They can isolate and endanger us but they can also heal us. We project our hopes and fears onto buildings, while they absorb our histories.

In Living With Buildings, Iain Sinclair embarks on a series of expeditions - through London, Marseille, Mexico and the Outer Hebrides. He explores the relationship between sickness and structure, and between art, architecture, social planning and health, taking plenty of detours along the way. Walking is Sinclair's defensive magic against illness and, as he moves, he observes his surroundings: stacked tower blocks and behemoth estates; halogen-lit glasshouse offices and humming hospitals; the blackened hull of a Spitalfields church and the floating mass of Le Corbusier's radiant city.

And he peels back layers of life. A father and his daughter, who has a rare syndrome, visit the estate where they once lived. Developers clink champagne glasses as residents are 'decanted' from their homes. A box sculpted from whalebone, thought to contain healing properties, is returned to its origins with unexpected consequences. Part investigation, part travelogue, Living With Buildings brings the spaces we inhabit to life as never before.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 144 x 222 x 23mm | 376g
  • Wellcome Collection
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 15 B&W illustrations
  • 1788160460
  • 9781788160469
  • 235,590

Review quote

Living with Buildings is a remarkable book; surprisingly gripping and often very moving. It extends and deepens Iain Sinclair's extraordinary 'brain-mapping project' - his investigation, carried out over many books and years, into how place embeds itself into mind, and mind into place. Buildings, here, emerge both as powerful agents of harm and healing. Some are 'lodestones of health and sanity', in others 'the deathwatch taps in the walls.' Stories weave and unweave over the book's course, patterning thought into a complex built environment, at once disorientating and illuminating. -- Robert Macfarlane The country's finest writer considers the structures that shape us, that permeate our psychologies and ultimately become us ... Sinclair's acid-sharp analysis is vital, insightful and necessary. This is town planning of the soul, a new urban map without which we are lost. Read it immediately. -- Alan Moore One of Iain Sinclair's best books ... an illustrated elegy for London's East End and her brutal architectural experiments. His walks ... are described with pithy lyricism. His moving accounts of friends and their complicated relationship to housing estates, hospitals and ancient rural sites, describe our attempts to remain healthy and humane in increasingly hostile environments -- Michael Moorcock * New Statesman Books of the Year * Iain Sinclair feeds us a rich diet of shrewd insights ... He leaves you gasping with the punch and pungency of his images -- Rowan Moore * Observer * Sinclair's recent work represents some of the most important in contemporary English letters -- Will Self * New Statesman * Sinclair breathes wondrous life into monstrous, man-made landscapes * Times Literary Supplement * The truest and most knowledgeable living writer on London. * Evening Standard * He is incapable of writing a dull paragraph * Scotland on Sunday * On his territory there's nobody to touch him ... a gonzo Samuel Pepys * Sunday Times * As a stylist Sinclair is incomparable -- Peter Ackroyd An explosion of literary fireworks * The Times * Sentence for sentence, there is no more interesting writer at work in English -- John Lanchester * Daily Telegraph *
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About Iain Sinclair

Iain Sinclair was born in South Wales. He went to school in the west of England and university in Dublin. He lives, walks and writes in East London. His books include Downriver (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Encore Prize), Lights Out for the Territory, London Orbital, Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire, American Smoke and The Last London.
Living with Buildings is published in association with Wellcome Collection, a free museum and library that aims to challenge how we think and feel about health. Inspired by the medical objects and curiosities collected by Henry Wellcome, it connects science, medicine, life and art. Wellcome Collection exhibitions, events and books explore a diverse range of subjects, including consciousness, forensic medicine, emotions, sexology, identity and death.
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Rating details

41 ratings
3.26 out of 5 stars
5 7% (3)
4 34% (14)
3 37% (15)
2 22% (9)
1 0% (0)
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