Inside ‘High-Rise’, Ballard’s Brutalist nightmare


Inside 'high-rise', ballard's brutalist nightmare

“High-Rise” is an exploration of middle class dystopia, showing how buildings can oppress and alienate

Welcome to life in the high-rise. The elevators haven’t worked for weeks, class warfare abounds and, starving, you’re barbecuing the dog. You’ve never been happier.

There are few more arresting social commentaries than JG Ballard’s “High-Rise”, a speculative fiction from 1975 on the perils of modern living. There’s fewer still that have so keenly combined architecture and sociology.

Condensed and refined into 40 floors of Brutalist dystopia are fear, hope and curiosity, fixing modernity in its lens and throwing it forward to what the author believes to be its ruinous eventual outcome.

Ballard’s narrative tells the story of Dr Robert Laing, a physiologist who moves into a new apartment block in London, along with a variety of middle-to-upper class professionals and their families. In the modern building the utilities begin to falter, struggling with its inhabitants’ demands — provoking agitation that swiftly slips into chaos. […]

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