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26 April 2013

They Could be Heroes: Architects and the Housing Crisis

The planning minister has bugged my studio: Nick Boles exhorted developers this week to build beautiful places. You heard it here first. Well maybe not, but that's my story. While the "housing crisis" is complex at least aesthetics have finally become part of the debate.

Here's quite an interesting article about the commercialisation of the architecture profession - watch out Portland Place - and the commodification of architecture itself:

http://blog.britishcouncil.org/2013/04/26/fideicomiso-uk-argentina-architecture/

Quite exciting stuff, especially in the week that Zaha Hadid won Business Woman of the Year (is there a Business Man of the Year???). The housing crisis presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for architects to be the heroes of the piece and quite literally save the country.

The Case Study programme of the post WW2 period in California is surely an inspiring template when it comes to revolutionising the way we think about the buildings we live in (and their location). At the same time we would do well to study the causes of this "crisis": population growth and social mores.

The more people, and the more people living singularly or in smaller "units", the more homes that need to be created, along with all the associated infrastructure.

As we are not the only creatures on this planet is it really acceptable to address the "housing crisis' from one end only, that of building more homes, and not to also think of creative, positive ways to manage what has created a pressure on housing in the first place?

Sadly it feels like discussion of the drivers behind population growth, and even the benefits of the family, though inextricably connected to the issue of housing, is mean spirited, smacking of xenophobia and social engineering. And yet a problem can only be throughly solved if it is thoroughly understood, as any designer or architect will tell you.


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