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Post-war lessons for modern UK housing

Whitehall's committed architects of post-war Britain (AJ 10.7.03) made it easy for society when producing adequate housing at the time - so why not now?

True, your two photographs show modest, well-designed dwellings that would have made the dreams of most home seekers at that time come true. Why was it easier to provide standard accommodation throughout the UK at that time?

Certainly the average architect at the time was institutionalised, and gen - erally did as they (usually he) was told - and the citi - zens even more so, due to naturally occurring events outside their control.

Today's situation is very different to 50 years ago. Everybody has more freedom to do and think as they like, and there is little concerted opinion in any one direction, except when media-dominated subjects are aired.

All urban areas have now increased by about 30 per cent in size and popu - lation, and that population is very well informed compared with our predecessors back then.

Broadly speaking, infrastructures have altered little, and towns have simply expanded as they have done in the past.

If [deputy prime minister] John Prescott is waiting for a major design contribution from architects, á la the 1950s before he presses the regeneration button, he is doomed; there is no 'Back to the Future' in the present dilemma.

With no concerted opinion to make his job easier, mega-billions will have to be put blindfolded into urban areas, primarily to provide the means to regenerate. There is no other 'choice'. It is likely that architects will pro - duce the goods if they know what is required of them.

Rex Hawkesworth, Hilsea, Portsmouth

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