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C20 Society slams survey linking riots to post-war estates

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The Twentieth Century Society has hit out at a report linking post-war housing estates with this summer’s riots, claiming it reinforces prejudices against ‘a certain type of architecture’

The group said it was ‘deeply concerned’ about the preliminary findings published by researchers Space Syntax, which alleges a connection between large post-war estates and rioting.

A Twentieth Century Society statement said: ‘This simply adds fuel to a long-running prejudice.

‘It is in [deprivation], rather than in architecture, that the roots of the problems at question here are to be found.’

The Space Syntax report found that 84 per cent of ‘verified’ riot incidents in north London and 96 per cent in south London happened within five minutes’ walk of both a town centre and a large post-war housing estate. Centres without large post-war estates nearby were unaffected.

The report blamed the ‘over-complex’ design of post-war housing estates for creating under-used spaces where young people can socialise ‘without the influence of adults’.

In 1985, the RIBA was forced to defend the design of the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, north London, (pictured) after its architecture was blamed for causing a riot.

But past RIBA president Sunand Prasad said the report was ‘not yet persuasive in understanding the riots.’


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