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Home for All: Six Experiments in Social Housing

This winter, V&A in collaboration with RIBA curated a display of six innovative projects from their collections – each demonstrating a unique experiment in social housing design.

Victoria and Albert Museum. E.744_2003. (c) Communist Party of Britain

"This is not a new challenge, and there are wonderful examples which mayors, councillors, policymakers, and architects seem to have forgotten! "

Lion Green Road 3D model_RIBA Collections

"We have made a new acquisition of Mary Duggan’s design for the Lion Green Road housing in Croydon, which is currently in development."

Byker Wall Game_Michael Drage_RIBA Collections

"The challenge of access to housing is much the same as it has been for many decades, but perhaps the causes are different."

Keeling House model_RIBA Collections

"We hope the display shows visitors that a safe, secure and dignified home for all need not be dismissed as a utopian dream, but is an urgent and achievable reality."

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Showcase 24 Jan 2019

Making a Home: Six Experiments in Social Housing, elaborated by the curators of V&A

For over a century, housing has been one of UK’s most urgent crises’. This winter, V&A in collaboration with RIBA curated a display of six innovative projects from their collections – each demonstrating a unique experiment in social housing design. This article is part 2 of a 2-part feature on the display where we talk to the curators Rory Hyde and Ella Kilgallon (from V&A) about the exhibition and the curation of the exhibition.

This article is part 2 of a 2-part feature on the display the exhibition  A Home for All: Six Experiments in Social Housing at the V&A, where we interviewed to the curators. For part 1, go here.

What inspired you to curate "A Home for All"?

A Home for All is inspired by the housing crisis in the UK, and in London in particular. We were eager to present great examples of social housing from the past century, as a reminder of how the issue of housing affordability and availability has been addressed in different ways in the past. This is not a new challenge, and there are wonderful examples which mayors, councillors, policymakers, and architects seem to have forgotten!

Home for All: Six Experiments in Social Housing

This winter, V&A in collaboration with RIBA curated a display of six innovative projects from their collections – each demonstrating a unique experiment in social housing design.

What would you say are the challenges in housing in the 21st century?

The challenge of access to housing is much the same as it has been for many decades, but perhaps the causes are different. Today, housing provision in the UK is left almost entirely to the private sector to provide, one reason why we have a shortage of affordable housing. For this reason, we are celebrating the important role the state has played in building homes for all.

Victoria and Albert Museum. E.744_2003. (c) Communist Party of Britain

"This is not a new challenge, and there are wonderful examples which mayors, councillors, policymakers, and architects seem to have forgotten! "

“While architecture will play a part in solving the housing crisis, the challenge is much larger than design alone.”

Would you say these challenges are specific to this century? How do you think housing has changed over time?

Just as the causes of housing shortages have been different, so have the responses. For example, Spa Green, designed by Berthold Lubetkin in the 1930s, prioritises the principles of health, hygiene, natural light, and fresh air, in stark contrast to the tenements it replaced. Whereas Ralph Erskine’s design for the Byker Estate in Newcastle, designed in the late 1960s, was proposed in reaction to the cold concrete high-rises that had come to define social housing. Erskine set up his design office on site, and invited the local community in to ask questions and make suggestions. This focus on community participation is critical to housing design today.

Lion Green Road 3D model_RIBA Collections

"We have made a new acquisition of Mary Duggan’s design for the Lion Green Road housing in Croydon, which is currently in development."

Do you think architecture can efficiently solve the housing crisis?

While architecture will play a part in solving the housing crisis, the challenge is much larger than design alone. It will involve changes to government policy, investment, community engagement, and the input from various parts of society. In particular, we are hoping that Local Authorities can once again take the lead.

Byker Wall Game_Michael Drage_RIBA Collections

"The challenge of access to housing is much the same as it has been for many decades, but perhaps the causes are different."

There are many housing projects that have emerged, especially over the last decade to tackle social housing. As curators, how did you choose these 6?

It is by no means a comprehensive show, we were mostly looking to present a diversity of approaches to housing design. Beyond that, the works in the show are from the collections of the V&A and the RIBA, which was another factor in deciding which projects to include. Importantly, we were able to draw from the RIBA’s recent acquisition of the archive of Neave Brown, architect of the Alexandra Road estate in Camden, and we have made a new acquisition of Mary Duggan’s design for the Lion Green Road housing in Croydon, which is currently in development.

Keeling House model_RIBA Collections

"We hope the display shows visitors that a safe, secure and dignified home for all need not be dismissed as a utopian dream, but is an urgent and achievable reality."

What do you expect the audience to take away from the display?

We hope the display shows visitors that a safe, secure and dignified home for all need not be dismissed as a utopian dream, but is an urgent and achievable reality.

The exhibition is on till 30 June 2019. Check out our previous story on the Home for All display to understand the content of the exhibition better.

 

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