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Living with Buildings

Imprint: Wellcome Collection
Pages: 224
Subject: Health & Wellbeing, Travel & Nature, Biography & Memoir, History & Classics
Illustrations: 15 B&W illustrations

Living with Buildings

Walking with Ghosts – On Health and Architecture

Iain Sinclair

One of Britain's finest writers embarks on a journey to explore the relationship between our health and the buildings that surround us

Hardback(Preorder only)
9781788160469 (Published 20 Sep 2018)
£14.99

About the book

'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.

About the author

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.

Reviews

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

Every house is a haunted house. In Living with Buildings, the country's finest writer considers the structures that shape us, that permeate our psychologies and ultimately become us, just as we inevitably come to form the ghostly substance of these places where we had our lives. A spectral complement to Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Sinclair's acid-sharp analysis is as vital, as insightful, and, in this era of evaporating high street and vertical holocaust, as necessary. This is town planning of the soul, a new urban map without which we are lost. Read it immediately.

- Alan Moore

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

Additional Information

Imprint: Wellcome Collection
Pages: 224
Subject: Health & Wellbeing, Travel & Nature, Biography & Memoir, History & Classics
Illustrations: 15 B&W illustrations