Faber Members get 10% off their first order

Iconicon: A Journey Around the Landmark Buildings of Contemporary Britain

John Grindrod

A captivating exploration of Britain’s most iconic contemporary buildings, from the Barratt home to the Millennium Dome.

224 in stock

Date Published
All orders are sent via Royal Mail and are tracked: choose from standard or premium delivery.

A captivating exploration of Britain’s most iconic contemporary buildings, from the Barratt home to the Millennium Dome.

‘A love letter to contemporary buildings and a fantastic account of recent British history, rich in humour.’ NINA STIBBE

‘Brilliant, encyclopaedic, funny and often cutting.’ DANNY DORLING

‘An eloquent, witty, passionate tour of Britain since the 1980s.’ JOHN BOUGHTON

‘Recounts the stories of our lived landscapes with wit, passion and a shot of anger.’ TOM DYCKHOFF

‘Grindrod has spoken to everyone and his observations are humane and acute.’ OWEN HATHERLEY

Wimpey homes. Millennium monuments. Riverside flats. Wind farms. Spectacular skyscrapers. City centre apartments. Out of town malls.

The buildings designed in our lifetimes encapsulate the dreams and aspirations of our culture, while also revealing the sobering realities. Whether modest or monumental, they offer a living history of Britain, symbols of the forces that have shaped our modern landscape and icons in their own right.

ICONICON is an enthralling journey around the Britain we have created since 1980: the horrors and delights, the triumphs and failures. From space-age tower blocks to suburban business parks, and from postmodernist exuberance to Passivhaus eco-efficiency, this is at once a revelatory architectural grand tour and an endlessly witty and engaging piece of social history.

Critic Reviews

A love letter to contemporary buildings and a fantastic account of recent British history, rich in humour.

Nina Stibbe
Critic Reviews

[A] punchy polemic . . . High readable . . . Grindrod is much more interested in what you might call our “accidental” urban landscape, the stuff apparently thrown together entirely for financial or political gain without any thought for aesthetic or social value, than in the highfalutin visions of top architects . . . At least, Grindrod concludes, a new generation of young architects appears more conscious of the need to improve life for whole communities, not just the rich and powerful. Let’s hope he is right.

The Times *Book of the Week*
Critic Reviews

If the title makes you think this will be all about big, shiny, funny-shaped public buildings [be] prepared for something darker, much more illuminating and rather sad. Chirpy though Grindrod’s prose style is, replete with pop references and hip asides, what he chronicles is the accelerating decline of the UK since 1980 as expressed through what we build. Prepare for a jolting ride ... Quiz[zing] the actual people involved in making our towns and cities [is] where Grindrod’s chatty learning-worn-lightly style scores. He seeks them out, interviews them, enjoys their company, structures his book round them ... I’m impressed.

Critic Reviews

Where Grindrod is really good is on the buildings that precisely are not icons ... [the] office parks and retail sheds, the executive estates and the crappy spaces between investment towers. Having been born in Croydon, Grindrod is a native of an optimism around Modernism which faded at the edges ... Interviewing residents and developers, alighting on terrible housebuilders’ marketing and the 90-something per cent of architecture than has never been anywhere near an architect, he outlines the peculiarly British mix of commercialism and laissez-faire regulation that has led to dim sprawl and shocking disaster, culminating not only in the housing crisis but in the tragic 2017 fire at Grenfell Tower ... [Tells] a story of lost opportunity and an increasing, nagging inability to understand architecture as anything other than a standalone object or a mechanism for financial return.

Financial Times
Critic Reviews

A brilliant, encyclopaedic, funny and often cutting dissection of the kaleidoscopic mess of buildings and places that the British created during most of our lifetimes. A sympathetic survey of the architectural remnants from the no such thing as society era.

Danny Dorling
Critic Reviews

In this eloquent, witty, passionate tour of Britain since the 1980s, John Grindrod provides a superb exposition of the politics and architecture that have shaped a landscape at once both familiar and already strangely historic. In its accounts of the best and worst of recent design, from the marvellous to the mundane to the frankly mean, this is a deeply humane book that does much to explain the world in which we live.

John Boughton

John Grindrod is the author of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain (2013) and Outskirts: Living Life on the Edge of the Green Belt (2017), which was shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize. @Grindrod / johngrindrod.co.uk

Read More
John Grindrod author picture