Monday, February 22, 2010

Value Engineers Create New Forms



Another place-holding post, instructing you to go read instead: the recent flurry of posts on bureaucracy, audit culture and such at K-Punk, eliciting an interesting and depressing response on how this pertains to architectural 'value-engineering' from Charles Holland; and see also this excellent RSB interview.

In terms of the sheer surreal politics of zombie neoliberalism and an era where banks are nationalised while privately owned public services are propped up at enormous public cost, it's hard to top the Kickstart scheme, whereby the state, in the form of regeneration quango the Homes and Communities Agency, subsidises private, volume housebuilders - the likes of Persmimmon - in order to resuscitate the moribund housing market. None of it, as far as I'm aware, entails funding for council housing despite the 1.7 million waiting list, although a minority is, in the euphemism, 'affordable'. Rival design/urbanism quango CABE, when they assessed the programme, found that more than half of the first lot of (let's not forget, publicly funded, private) schemes were substandard, and now the Homes and Communities Agency are refusing to name where the schemes are or who their architects might be*. As an example of the astoundingly depressing death agonies of Blairism, with its managed market and abdication of actual social democratic responsibilities, it's almost too neat. There's a BD campaign on the whole sorry mess which is here. Also, now that shit exurban Barratt/Bovis/Persmimmon/etc housing is being state funded, can we have done with the idea that it's an authentic expression of popular desire? Ta.

* (some of them might just have appeared on Bad British Architecture, which has returned from its recent extended hiatus)

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