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“White middle-class man stands in front of public housing and bellows about how it doesn't work”

Social housing and other Brutalist public spaces were cast as dangerous and antisocial by the media, says Owen Hatherley in this talk on how the style wars ultimately decimated the availability of quality affordable homes in England 

 

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Ideological attacks on Brutalist public housing were common in the media for 20 years or more
Ideological attacks on Brutalist public housing were common in the media for 20 years or more

 

Ideology, not fact, was behind the vilification of Brutalist public housing projects, says Owen Hatherley, in his talk at the Festival of Place: The Pineapples.

 

Describing more than two decades of style wars through documentary films and articles, Hatherley cites how critics sought to paint public housing projects as dangerous and anti-social, and charts the rise of Brutalism, its fall from grace, and subsequent revival as a fashionable style for creative-class tenants at redeveloped housing blocks such as Park Hill.

 

The talk begins with a blistering attack on the flagship Sheffield project, characterised as "what not to do". Hatherley says, "The process of essentially gentrifying the estate has taken longer than the process of building it, and it’s still unfinished, most of the building is still derelict... a public asset was taken entirely into the private sector, and a whole lot of social housing was [destroyed] in a city which has 10s of thousands of people on its social housing waiting list"

 

Hatherley also discusses the challenges of refurbishing listed housing stock and the crisis in the shortage of affordable homes.

 

 

Owen Hatherley’s latest book "Clean Living Under Difficult Circumstances" is available here and published by Verso.

 

 

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