It is relatively easy to fire off accusations of sexism or racism or any other kind of ‘ism’ and to be told that racism goes through architecture like a stick of rock is an appalling indictment. The accusation that it starts at the top with the RIBA amounts to libel, unless it can be supported by real evidence. There will now be a very expensive inquiry funded by the RIBA members to see if there is any truth in these accusation. Before taking this step it would have been interesting to know what evidence has been produced to support these claims and whether there has been any attempt to find others who have a similar view.
Is there a typo in the Terry quote? Surely 'draft' should be 'daft'
Comment on: Cameron set to scrap affordable homes quotas
The Conservative Party’s enthusiasm for ownership over rental as some kind of ‘quick fix’ for the ‘housing problem’ is laughable and the stigmatisation of the rental market is depressingly naive.
It is hard, but not impossible, to imagine a socio-economic climate in London where there is no housing ‘problem’. As things stand there will always be (as there always has been) an unfulfilled need. It is wrong to imagine there is a ‘solution’, there will only ever be a gradual attempt to increase and improve the housing stock. These efforts will always fall below expectations. In a turbulent world, London is one of the most desirable Cities to live and invest for all kinds of obvious reasons: The historic building stock, political stability and security, the legal system and the rule of law, culture, infrastructure, education, the health system, the Parks, employment etc.
Simon Jenkins is worth reading on this subject for a shot of sense beyond the sound bites. He touches on the low density of our existing housing stock, the amount of unused space within occupied housing, the amount of ‘investment’ purchasing with houses lying empty and the amount of under developed land. All could be addressed through legislation but the political will is lacking.
The ways of making London housing more affordable might include:
1. Make London more like Paris: increasingly regulated and less supportive of initiative. People would go somewhere else, possibly back to Paris.
2. Make London more like Bagdad: dangerous and politically unstable. People would leave and wouldn’t invest. Property prices would nose dive.
3. Make the distribution of wealth in the U.K and worldwide more equitable: this would drive down the price of housing and give individuals more power to make their own choices
4. Make other countries more attractive, safer, more stable places to live: the demand to come to London would decline and prices would fall.
5. Build densely packed industrial buildings and tenements on the outskirts of the City and let immigrants, artists, students and the homeless occupy them at any density they choose without the need for planning approval. Build good transport links 20 years later.
The London housing ‘problem’ is the result of a range of national and international phenomena. Until these change, London will continue to be a vibrant, buoyant, complex, pluralist, inequitable, evolving and attractive City with a housing ‘problem’
Charles Thomson Director Studio 54 Architecture
Claire has been a breath of fresh air, a level headed champion of quality, an architect who has made an incredibly positive impact on a perennially cynical industry. The radio and literary world's obvious gain will be our loss.