A searching, timely account of the condition of contemporary Europe, told through the landscapes of its cities.
Over the past twenty years European cities have become the envy of the world: a Kraftwerk Utopia of historic centres, supermodernist concert halls, imaginative public spaces and futuristic egalitarian housing estates which, interconnected by high-speed trains traversing open borders, have a combination of order and pleasure which is exceptionally unusual elsewhere.
In Trans-Europe Express, Owen Hatherley sets out to explore the European city across the entire continent, from Dniepropetrovsk to Madrid, Edirne to Reykjavik, and to see what exactly makes it so different to the Anglo-Saxon norm - the unplanned, car-centred, developer-oriented spaces common to the US, Ireland, UK and Australia. He also discovers another EU, where rail systems can't function, nationalism is on the rise, retail parks and tourists engulf cities and the deregulated public sphere rivals anything in Brexit Britain.
And that's just the part of the continent allowed in the club, which resembles nothing so much as a rebranding of something much older: Christendom. Attempting to define the European city, Hatherley finds a continent divided both within the EU and outside it: the difference between Chisinau and Stockholm is so vast that it makes little sense to call them both European capitals.
Trans-Europe Express is a striking picture of a continent that has managed to create urban environments more pleasant, comfortable and attractive than any created anywhere else in human history, and which is now in profound crisis.
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