Wednesday, 03 November
IT’S TIME TO REDESIGN HOUSING FROM THE BOTTOM UP TOO
Article written by Matthew Nimmo published in the MJ
I’ve worked in housing for 20 years, often replacing poorly designed projects with new better-quality ones. ‘Estate regeneration’ has for decades meant ‘tear down and rebuild’ and often framed overhaul as best practice. But when the world’s biggest architecture prize goes to a practice with the motto of ‘never demolish’ and climate activists pile on pressure for sustainable homes, I believe the time has come to redesign our own work.
French architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal scooped the 2021 Pritzker Prize for Architecture – referred to as the Nobel Prize for Architecture – for their sensitive refurbishment of post-war social housing blocks. These architects focus on designing social housing from the inside out to prioritise the welfare of a building’s inhabitants and their unanimous desires for larger spaces. Their approach has the potential to be transformative.
Local authorities have always faced a balancing act when deciding what to do with post-war estates. The short-term approach of ‘maintain and refurbish’ has the advantages of managing costs, keeping communities together and minimising disruption to residents from construction works. But demolition and redevelopment has become attractive because it can offer housing that meets a range of income levels as well as helping to sustain local shops and services, which in turn boosts local economies. It can also address poor post-war urban design that often resulted in inward-facing estates with poorly overlooked walkways, dark car parks, and inadequate open spaces and parks.
Read full article here