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Living with Buildings and Walking with Ghosts

On health and architecture

Sinclair breathes wondrous life into monstrous, man-made landscapes.

Times Literary Supplement

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 relationships between sickness and structure, between art, architecture, social planning and health – while taking many 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.

Sinclair also 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.

Read an extract from the book

Date published
208 pages

About the author

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'.