Owen Hatherley has an immense post about Sheffield, modernism, socialism, privatisation, etc. Which reminded me of an estate agent ad I saw recently, for a gaff in the Highgate New Town estate. The sales-slug referred to a “3 double bedroom apartment in an architecturally-designed ex-local authority development, with 19′ kitchen/diner, 12′ reception, and exclusive access to a full-width south-facing balcony”. Well, indeed. A snip at £340,000. I liked the “architecturally-designed” – as opposed to what, exactly? All buildings are architecturally designed – some are designed by architects, some are designed well, a lot are designed badly. But don’t let that put you off. It’s not really my point either.
I do think it’s a sign of the times; suddenly, buildings like this aren’t concrete monstrosities imposed on the poor by a remote leftist elite, but rather, “architect-designed” jewels. This is relevant. That this should come up just at the point when Grant Shapps wants to end security of tenure in council housing (which Highgate New Town mostly is, still) should not really be surprising. In the Cameron future, we’ll swap over – the poor can move back into draughty, mouseful Victorian buildings they can’t afford to heat, and the elite can enjoy Parker-Morris space standards. (75% of the houses Peter Tabori’s project replaced didn’t have a bathroom.)