A Housing Vision
by Pierre d'Avoine
To redress the lack of design attention that public housing in the United Kingdom has received in recent years, the Architecture Foundation and Circle 33 Housing Group organized "Accommodating Change," an international competition in housing innovation. In January 2002, they announced the student winner, Ema Bonifacic. She joins professional-category winner Peter Barber, who was announced last autumn.
Their winning schemes and those of the finalists are now on view at The Architecture Foundation gallery in London. A publication documenting the competition features several essays by prominent British architects. What follows is a portion of Pierre d'Avoine's essay, "Challenging the Politics of Indifference." — Editor
The population in Britain is now predominantly urban. The vast majority live in sprawling towns and cities, and the countryside has been chopped up with thousands of roads. Once we could envisage the land as an ample fabric studded with the products of man. But today it is no longer secure as the soft, endless matrix of earth and vegetation of our childhood imagination, and the economies of speed have resulted in waste.
Architecture has its mythic dimension too, and the fantasy of the architect as individual creator is still part of the popular imagination and continues to be peddled by a media bloated on the cult of celebrity. Yet we know that manmade environments, even the smallest villages, require something other than individual will and action to create and sustain them. >>>
The professional portion of the "Accommodating Change" competition for design of public housing was won by London-based practice Peter Barber Architects.
Image: Peter Barber Architects
Peter Barber Architects' winning scheme was designed for a brownfield site on Old Ford Road in London.
Photo: Peter Barber Architects
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