Thursday, 1 November 2012

'We'll drift through it all, it's the modern age.'




The account of the Failed Architecture Lenton flats workshop is now online: http://failedarchitecture.com/2012/10/from-the-great-adventure-to-our-dystopian-present/


Nottingham City Homes naturally seem to have the economic numbers stacked up against retention of the blocks but again there is hardly any mention of the tenants and nothing really about where or how they would be re-housed. Perhaps they thought they'd leave that to JTP architects who are doing something or another with the site (with a plan that only involves a fraction of new council homes being built there compared to the current number within the tower blocks) but it all really isn't good enough from a body that purports to provide 'homes and places where people want to live'. Taking various 'dystopian' cultural artefacts out of their context without any real consideration of what they actually mean in order to justify their decisions ('Control', which is cited almost in terms of 'wasn't the 1970s grim?' and 'these flats must be bad if they're being used to represent Macclesfield' - and Ballard's 'High-Rise' which, rather differently to the situation at Lenton, is actually filled with tenants who are smug, educated, wealthy, bored, and socially dysfunctional) also shows a particularly narrow understanding of our recent past and of the realities of social division and disenfranchisement in Lenton and elsewhere. 

There's so much more to take to task here: 'our dystopian present' anyone? That NCH have to make some 'difficult decisions' and that we should also 'try to look at the problem from a company perspective' tells me all I need to know about our 'dystopian present'. That old chestnut about people not sharing a ‘sense of place’ due to the 'lack of homeownership'? As though council tenants are simply not capable of forging communities because they are somehow hampered by not conforming to the great (and now surely discredited) English middle-class yardstick of aspiring to owning a home. And as for the NCH representative asking the FA Lenton researchers if they would like their gran to live in the Lenton flats ...  

All of this would not necessarily matter if the current tenants at Lenton were being guaranteed some sort of alternative accommodation nearby. Back in the late 1960s, tower blocks like those at Lenton gave ordinary people significantly better housing than what they previously had. Perhaps the current tenants do need better housing than what they have now, but sadly it still doesn't seem as if the new masters of these tower blocks are even going to give them that. 

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