Architects for Social Housing – For A Socialist Architecture Under Capitalism: The Social

Architects for Social Housing For A Socialist Architecture Under Capitalism: The Social

Please join 221A Fellows, Architects for Social Housing (ASH), for a workshop on the social implications and social development strategies that are born from the global housing crisis.  This workshop is the first in a series of four, which take place Friday afternoons from July 19 to August 9, 2019. Co-developed with Am Johal, Director of SFU’s Vancity Office for Community Engagement,  this first workshop asks the questions:

  1. Why is an ‘ethical’ architecture inadequate as a model of practice?
  2. Who are the agents of a socialist architecture?
  3. What are the processes of its production?
  4. For whom is a socialist architecture produced?
  5. What are the design principles of a socialist architecture?

Within the overall socio-economic context of Western democracies today, in which there is a cross-party consensus from the political establishment on the marketization of housing provision, it seems like there is no longer the political will to make the state responsible for housing its citizens. How do we meet the housing needs of an increasingly homeless population? Is a socialist model of housing provision unsustainable and impossible within capitalist economies? And in the absence of socialist governments on the horizon, what would a socialist architecture look like?

A socialist architecture is not dependent for its existence upon a socialist government, a socialist economic system or even socialist architects. Its existence is manifested through practice alone. So, whether or not an architect, resident, campaigner or activist identifies as a ‘socialist’ (whatever that may mean to them personally),  formulating the principles of a socialist architecture will show that it is possible to practice architecture as something other than the obedient tool of capitalism

The financial roots of this crisis reach deep into the world economy, and architects must do more than bury their heads in the limitations of a developer’s brief, confine themselves to purely formal interpretations of housing typologies imposed by developers to maximize land values, attend award ceremonies to their own complicity in the failed and failing marketization of housing provision, and become just another cog in the building industry.

ASH has worked for nearly five-years from London to develop a robust and detailed critique of the United Kingdom’s housing policy. By working alongside housing campaigners, they have studied the disastrous impact this crisis is having on housing, poverty, and homelessness. ASH has also developed practical designs and policy interventions in housing provision that demonstrate there is another way.

Project Support

Supported by the International Presence Program of the Province of British Columbia’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture

Province of British Columbia