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Urban task force to model itself on Garden City pioneers

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Work has started on site on this £1.8 million new-build sheltered housing scheme in Waltham Forest for Ujima by Brady + Mallalieu Architects. The scheme, an example of 'non-standardised' housing association work, is designed to avoid an institutional appearance, is grouped around a private, enclosed landscaped courtyard and features internal circulation areas and a double-height common room to foster community spirit. Completion is due at the end of this year.

Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force is taking as its role model the Garden City pioneers of the turn of the century in its bid to sell the idea of city life to a hostile public.

The task force says that just as the Garden City pioneers changed attitudes to housing ideals 100 years ago, so its aim will be to transform views of urbanism. Its report, 'But Would You Live There? Shaping Attitudes to Urban Living', has scoured media and pop culture to pick up on powerful messages that blacken our view of the city. Positive views such as Maupin's Tales of the City are contrasted with nightmarish images from movies such as la Confidential and Blade Runner.

English popular culture reflects the nation's traditionally negative attitudes towards the city as morally corrupt, the report says. 'From the novels of Dickens, to the kitchen-sink dramas of the 1950s and 60s and, more recently Trainspotting, the urban imagery is of poverty, grime and struggle.'

However, the task force also suggests that the fragmentation of the housing market and an emerging mass market for urban homes may bring about a fundamental change.

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