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Tower Block: Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland cover
  • ISBN: 9780300054446
  • ISBN10: 0300054440

Tower Block: Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

by Muthesius, Stefan A Glendinning, Miles

  • List Price: $85.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publish date: 12/01/1993
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Once they were seen as one of the greatest triumphs of the postwar Welfare State and of the social functionalism of Modern architecture. More recently, high flats and other dense Modern housing patterns have become the target of widespread, violent condemnation. The authors of Tower Block have decisively broken from this polarised rhetoric, believing that it has itself fuelled the 'high-rise problem'. Instead, they have undertaken a cautious but comprehensive historical analysis of the buildings in the hope that this may help foster a generally more balanced attitude towards them. Two fundamental questions are addressed in these pages. Firstly: why were tower blocks held to provide good dwellings - better than any previous form of dense urban housing? Here, the authors explore the beliefs of designers and theorists in technical matters such as density, layout, construction and services, as well as in the less easily defined, yet equally urgent, search for 'community' in new housing. And they show that, alongside all this, there ran a belief that it was possible, in at least some of these solutions, to achieve an absolute architectural quality. The second question takes a different form. Why was there such a rapid and massed building of multi-storey blocks - peaking in the mid-1960s - across all urban areas of Scotland, England and Wales? An immensely broad research programme, using both central and local sources, including countless interviews, has allowed the authors to conclude that the chief driving force was municipal pride - the idealistic daring of councillor 'housing crusaders' determined to give 'their people' new homes, as many and as fast as possible. In Northern Ireland, onthe other hand, the new housing drive was masterminded by powerful civil servants. In its comprehensive answer to these two fundamental questions - which take in, between them, the conception and the production of Modern housing - the book contributes significantly to the history of Modern architecture, as well as social policy and public administration. And the two massive gazetteers at the end, containing a statistical list of all public-authority high blocks in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, and a bibliography of architecturally noteworthy projects, provide a vast quarry of data for local and national historians.
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