These are all images of social housing projects in Europe…discuss (both the images and the history, execution and success of such projects)…
These are all images of social housing projects in Europe…discuss (both the images and the history, execution and success of such projects)…
20 thoughts on “Blog Exercise Six”
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Social Housing: Are typically owned by the government, some instances by charitable organizations. In most cases it is aimed at providing affordable housing for low income individuals or families. Specifically looking at the United Kingdom for a second; “Over 1.7 million households are currently waiting for social housing” (England.shelter.org.uk). Simply put, the number of new households is increasing faster than houses are being built. There is not enough affordable housing available on the market.
The amount of social housing is vastly different in each country in Europe. For instance, Spain, Greece, Estonia only retain two percent of some sort of stock in social housing. While it is thirty five percent in the Netherlands (Social Housing in Europe II. LSE London. 2008). the social housing differences is largely based on historical and cultural differences. Not only in each country but in different regions of the country. For instance, if you look at a major city in Europe it is typically divided by culture. You can see specific communities within a city built around a specific culture and/or ethnic groups. Areas such as china town, Arabic communities, and Indian communities. These communities may have many cultural differences but there is one major commonality among them. That is poverty; each community has poverty and there for a need for government assisted housing, or social housing. However, a government clearly cannot just pay for and build one large centralized social housing unit. The difference in cultures causes a major obstacle and these differences can eventually clash, causing a bigger problem then what already exists. Because of this it seems only obvious that social housing units need to be specifically built for each cultural community.
Bettering the conditions and lifestyles within social housing units has become a major concern. The Building and Social Housing Foundation, founded in the UK in 1976, finished a three year energy-saving practice. It worked so well that the project was extended an additional three years. The goal of this project is “fair energy transition towards nearly-zero energy buildings” (www.bshf.org). The focus was to provide funding for installation of new methods for power in social housing. The reasoning was to drastically lower the cost of energy in social housing by adding in renewable power sources such as solar panels. It also included some basic modifications such as new technology insulation and windows. This was specifically done in northern cities where the cost of heating was at the point where the residences in the social housing units could not maintain a health temperature.
The drastic numbers of families that are now in need of social housing has become such a crisis across the EU that the European Parliament has taken notice. In 2013 the European Parliament released its plan on how they will address the housing crisis (Social Housing in the EU. Director-General for Internal Policies). The sixty two paged document goes into detail explaining the root of the problem and address how to combat it. The document approaches the ideas of, employment and social affairs, environment, public health and safety, research and energy, and internal market. The EU isn’t just looking at why social housing is in such demand but ways to stop it and put families back in single family homes. They intend to do this through employment, industries, and various forms of government aid.
Nice discussion on the needs and issues of social housing and how the EU parliament is studying and striving to solve the problems.
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Reblogged this on carlylb and commented:
Social housing is a type of public housing that is affordable to low and middle-income workers because of the limited rent fees and subsidized funding. Though there are differences between countries when it comes to the kinds of social housing provided, the countries of Europe have much in common when it comes to their involvement with social housing since the turn of the 20th century. According to Kathleen Scanlon and Christine Whitehead, “The first ‘social’ housing initiatives were taken not by local or state authorities but by private actors such as companies, factory owners and philanthropists”. Social housing was mostly taken advantage of in industrial societies and cities to deal with overcrowding, mass poverty, and unhealthy living conditions. At the turn of the 20th century, many housing acts in Europe were passed in an effort to fight social injustice, for the health of the public and to prevent uprisings. Though the housing acts were passed at the turn of the century, for the most part social housing was not built in large numbers until after World War I due to the political and economic turbulence of the war. Even still the majority of social housing projects were funded by the private sector over the public sector all the way up until the end of World War II. The social housing system was picky in its selection of who qualified, primarily being offered only to working class citizens. The system had often come with housing inspectors who were used as a form of control, inspecting rooms and teaching tenants the right behavior while living in such social housing. After World War II, there was a boom in housing construction including social housing, in which the government played a more crucial role than before. In France, the 1% Law of 1953 established a co-op initiative between the government and industry to invest in social housing for all companies that had over 50 employees. Much of the construction was spurred by the need to rebuild in places that had been demolished by the war, specifically war-damaged urban areas, as well as to accommodate for the baby boom. Government increased productivity of social housing construction by placing subsidies on building materials. From the 1950s to the 1970s social housing increased making it known as the Golden Age of Social Housing. The period was characterized by economic gain for not just the wealthy, but also most of the working class. It provided greater economic security to the middle class and allowed for upward mobility. However, the decline of efforts and support of social housing began in the 1970s in France as well as other European countries with a withdrawal of government funding and turn towards owner occupation. Though the private sector and housing organizations took up responsibilities that the government left behind, by the 1990s, social housing had become stigmatized by individualized ideology and fragmentation. Today, though there is social housing in Europe, its supply and funding is disproportionately lacking compared to the number of people who qualify for it. It is also marginal in size compared the rest of the housing sector as there its subsidy funding has been transferred to funding private home ownership.
Click to access Social_Housing_in_Europe_II_A_review_of_policies_and_outcomes.pdf
The images depict several examples of social housing projects in Europe. These are probably projects that came about after World War II or possibly earlier, after the industrial revolution. In either case the social and economic conditions that brought about the need for massive, inexpensive housing is significant. Following the industrial revolution the living conditions for working class families were deplorable. Families were often crammed into single room apartments. The buildings that they lived in were often built in the early stages of the industrial explosion or earlier, so they often lacked many of the basic services that we have accept as a basic minimum for our units today. Running water, proper sewage disposal, food storage/preparation space, and even a window were not a luxury that many people had. Although these conditions first developed during the rise of heavy industry, they persisted in similar forms throughout the two world wars. In any case, the change in social systems brought about the change to the living conditions. The rise of socialist parties spurred the construction of numerous housing projects that would house the massive, underserved working population. The housing developments were a direct results to the deplorable conditions described above. The images make it clear that access to light and air were a primary concern. Every unit has a window and many of them have balconies or small shared spaces that contain trees or other types of vegetation. This recognition for the need of people to be connected to “nature” (nature at this time seemed often to just mean a tree or two and some turf grass) was widely spread around Europe. The connection to Le Corbusier and his Radiant City project is evident. Not necessarily in form, as none of these projects take on the “Tower in the Park” type, these nevertheless take on the same spirit. They strive to give each unit their own little paradise with a connection to a larger community. Many of these housing projects took on a typology that provided ample green space within the housing block. I do not recognize all of the projects, but it seems one of them seems as if it could be Robin Hood Gardens in London. The project roughly defines the perimeter of the block but leaves one end open to allow in great amounts of light and provide space for children to play.
These housing projects were often mixed use in one form or another. The image on the bottom might have small shop spaces on the ground floor. If not shops, these housing projects often provided other civil services such as post offices or schools. The best example that I can think of is Het Schip in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Designed by the influential architect Michel de Klerk, the project consists of comfortable living spaces (with all modern services), a grade school, a post office, and a communal garden. The project stands as a monument to urban housing that is derived out of its place and which operates as a unit of urban configuration.
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These images show some examples of postwar social housing projects in Europe, which are very different from housing projects in the United States. In the United States after the war, government officials were concerned about the spread of ‘evil’ socialism into Europe and saw it as a stepping-stone to full-blown communism. Therefore, the American government promoted home ownership through Federal Housing Acts in the late 1940s through the 1950s. These laws provided for a very small amount of public housing, but not enough to make any difference at all. Essentially, they tried to make public housing fail in order to please the banking and real estate industries.
In Europe, governments wanted to ensure that people would have a roof on their head, even if they could not afford traditional owner-occupied or rental housing. Additionally, a vast portion of housing in Europe (especially in Britain and Germany) had been destroyed by bombings during World War II. European governments thus took a very different approach to social housing. In the United States, income requirements were very low and very strict, which meant that having almost any sort of job meant one would have to move out into the traditional (and vastly more expensive) housing market. In Europe, however, the income requirement was set higher so that someone who got a job would have some time to get back on their feet and get their financial affairs in order before they were forced to leave public housing.
The Alexandra Road public housing project in London was one that challenged the prevailing idea that new-construction social housing had to be high-rise. Instead, Alexandra Road features rows of terrace homes, with a total of over five hundred units. The density is equal to that of a high-rise project, but features open and green space that would otherwise be absent. Under Thatcher’s government, Alexandra Road began to decay due to cuts in maintenance expenditures. In the 1990s, though, the residents organized and were able to get Alexandra Road recognized with a Grade II-star listing, protecting the project for its historical value (Kyriacou).
Le Vele di Scampia provides a counterpoint to Alexandra Road. Instead of becoming a world-renowned housing project, Le Vele (the sails) quickly became a center for Mafia activity and drug use. When the project was constructed near Naples, there was very little transportation available into the city, thus making it very hard to live there and hold a job. Also unlike Alexandra Road, there was no green space provided, leaving the project a dull mass of concrete. Such an environment means that children have no role models, and they turn to crime from a very young age. Now, some refer to the area of Scampia that Le Vele is in as the Ciudad Juarez of Italy, reflecting the prevalence of drugs and violence (Harris).
Although Europe took a different approach to public housing in the middle of the 20th century than the United States did, that does not mean that the European projects were necessarily more successful. While some, like Alexandra Road, are now well known for their importance, others, like Le Vele di Scampia, have dissolved into chaos.
Harris, Judith. “The Child Soldiers of Scampia.” i-Italy Magazine. http://www.i-italy.org/14911/child-soldiers-scampia.
Kyriacou, Lefkos. “History.” Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate. http://www.alexandraandainsworth.org/history.html.
Public housing is utilized by many Europeans; it is in most cases government-owned, is found in inner cities and is used by lower-income families and single residents. Public residences are located mainly in inner cities because suburbia rejects the idea of potentially bringing homeless people in with them; also, many of these residents of public housing don’t have a car and cannot commute from a suburb to work and back. This type of residence can be found abundantly in ethnic communities with many elderly people and immigrants; poverty flourishes here, and there are only low-wage jobs (industrial, etc.) close to home. Both Europe and North America have delved into numerous public housing projects, largely to clear slums and redevelop their inner cities. Europe, especially, has relied heavily on social housing. Great Britain’s social housing stock in 2013 constituted 18% of all homes, though that figure is down from 32% from 1981 due to mass privatization (Allister Heath, telegraph.co.uk). Kathleen Scanlon and Christine Whitehead, in 2007 analyzed housing situations in western and northern European countries and found that each country is different with regards to social housing. They state that “social housing as a percentage of the housing stock ranged from a high of 35% in the Netherlands to a low of 4% (after mass privatisation) in Hungary” (rozenbergquarterly.com). They noted that there were also differences in type of resident—“in some [countries] it was a tenure for the very poor, while in others it housed low-waged working families or even the middle classes, while the very poor lived elsewhere…the social sector accommodated a disproportionate number of single-parent families, the elderly and the poor.” However, Scanlon and Whitehead added, social housing numbers have been falling steadily over the last few decades, while demand has been rising. There are efforts, though, to meet this growing need for more housing. The British tried to address their own issue of falling housing numbers by, in 1976, establishing the Building and Social Housing Foundation, an independent research organization promoting sustainable housing development and innovation; the BSHF aims to “provide decent housing for everyone” (bshf.org). The initiative also studies ways in which old, dilapidated housing can be redeveloped into modern, environmentally friendly residences. BSHF has helped to solve many housing problems in not only the United Kingdom but also much of Europe.
As mentioned above, redevelopment is another enterprise in European cities: old, rundown housing is being either restored/remodeled or torn down and completely rebuilt. Redevelopment often involves public/private partnerships; the cities guarantee a return on private investment in return of private funds. The many effects of revitalization include increases in tax revenues and service costs. There is a population increase and a change in lifestyle; you see wealthier couples and more single people. However, the cost to live in this new housing is usually much higher than living costs of the older previous residences. This causes the displacement of many low-income families and individuals, who either have to find affordable housing elsewhere or go homeless.
In conclusion, European social housing has always been an important part of the residential areas in European cities. Despite trends of privatization and decline, social housing has since made a comeback through attempts at innovative, sustainable housing made by groups such as BSHF, to major redevelopment projects.
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Reblogged this on maybeokay and commented:
Generally, social housing refers to affordable housing, defined by the UN’s UN-HABITAT organization “as that which is adequate in quality and location and does not cost so much that it prohibits its occupants meeting other basic living costs or threatens their enjoyment of basic human rights” (“Affordable Land”).
Yet social housing is a deceptively simple term that tends to obscure the vast differences in purposes, applications, and outcomes, even when looking at the countries of a single continent, like Europe. Oversight and management of developments, for instance, differs with some run by governments, others local groups, and yet others non-profit organizations. So too do intended residents differ—from everyone to single-parent families, from those below a particular level of income to those simply struggling to find housing—and rent determination factors—cost-based, income-based, ceilinged, government determined, etc.
Commonality of social housing within a country is also prone to wide variation, with such housing making up only 5% of housing in countries like Luxembourg (less than that in Greece) and nearly 35% in the Netherlands. Residence types vary too—homes, rentals, block apartments, high rises, cooperatives—along with establishment quality, age, maintenance, and included amenities.
In much of Europe, significant government involvement in providing social housing truly began after WWII. Though large building projects existed beforehand—such as the impressively modernized Quarry Hill Flats in Leeds (England) built in the mid-1930s—a preexisting housing shortage, the war, associated structural devastation, and the baby boom that followed all provided significant impetus for the creation of affordable housing. Mass produced and increasingly high-rise apartment complexes became the face of post-war Europe low-income housing, gaining speed significantly over the subsequent two and a half decades.
The exacts of creation, however, differed, particularly between Eastern and Western Europe (and also compared with other places, such as North America and Australia). In Eastern Europe, more socialist policies held housing “as a social right that was to be guaranteed by the government… and consequently, housing production, allocation and consumption was under direct control by governments” (“Affordable Land”). In Western Europe, comparatively, oversight of public housing developments was more contained, as seen in the UK’s council house model where localized councils exercised greater responsibility over the creation and maintenance of social housing (and later non-profit housing associations).
Regardless of oversight source, both Eastern and Western Europe saw the waning of rented social housing. This occurred during the 1980s in Western Europe when home ownership became more common and more commonly endorsed. The results were mixed, allowing low-income renters to buy houses but also leading to the removal of particularly nice social housing and neighborhoods from the prospective rental pool, altogether lowering the social housing stock. In the 1990s in Eastern Europe, public housing shifted as well with the fall of the Soviet Union and subsequent need to restructure the housing market.
In recent years, social housing in Europe has gained momentum again with private companies playing a more significant part than ever before in the funding and development (if not rule-setting). This reviving is due to a number of factors including immigration, population growth, deterioration of earlier housing, and economic variations.
United Nations. UN-HABITAT. Affordable Land and Housing in Europe and North America. Nairobi: UNON, 2011. Print.
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The need for affordable housing has been a constant concern since the demographic transitions that occurred during the industrial revolution and is still an extant issue in the pursuit of addressing housing inequality, which social housing seeks to remedy. The approaches to social housing are evident in the Western world and, as the images detail, the successes or failures of such projects have been preserved for the efficacy process of history. Though most social housing is owned and managed by the state, which ideally provides affordable or rent free housing, some social housing is administered by non-profit organizations which ultimately seek to address housing inequality.
The collage of images all present public housing from different periods of recent history in Europe, with varying appeal and desirability. For instance, the one image that jumps out at me is the center right image of a multi-story concrete structure, which many Americans would associate with public housing in America, but at the same time is reminiscent of Eastern bloc, Soviet inspired housing, with utilitarianism as the overall engineering driver, making aesthetics a little lacking compared to the other images. The adjacent image to the left, though concrete in its construction, seems to have a more creative approach to design and still maintains an aura of social housing with laundry drying from the balconies. These two social housings were probably made prior to the 1980s, as the 1970s seems to project the height of iconic concrete multi-story structures. The top right image seems to be the progressive next step up from the iconic concrete multi-stories with more spacious living areas and a marginally higher standard of housing, making for a more content tenant. The bottom image presents social housing with an appreciable sense of style, not exquisite by any means, but adequate to house tenants with varied income levels, seeming reminiscent of Medieval housing where all economic classes intermixed in their housing, without the thatched roofs of course. The top two images to the left by far present social housing that functions as both a remedy for housing inequality and serves as a means of dispelling the stereotypical association of public housing with the “poor,” as both these housings could easily be prime rental units in the United States. The housings integrate green space within the units presenting an appealing, approachable building that provides a clean looking living space for the residing tenants. This seems like the most ideal form of public housing but is it the most practical?
There are definitely building space concerns within European cities making the smaller more open building approaches seem less practical but harkening back to the concrete multi-stories doesn’t seem like an adequate redress to housing inequality. The demand for affordable housing will always be an issue of great concern in Europe, which brings to light the European approach in comparison to the American approach to public housing. The guiding principle of the “American dream,” house ownership, etc., will always be a hindrance to the American approach to public housing, never really truly addressing the problem of housing inequality. The European approach seems to more genuinely tackle the issue of housing inequality by making living conditions and all around standards of living more egalitarian, the ultimate outcome of which history will judge.
Reblogged this on meshari86 and commented:
Of the human right to housing sheltered housing crisis, but it has become one of the biggest problems suffered by urban and industrial communities. This is due to many affecting factors and the most important factor is the economic factor.
The public housing or housing collective: are housing collectively by the characteristics of the housing individual and housing complex as a cell connected to each other through the walls or ceiling and participate in the temple, and in some external domains (parking lots, public squares) but independent some times in entrance and a vertical building containing several houses and a common entrance areas of common foreign, which is less cost-effective than individual housing.
With the advent of the cities has become difficult to maintain the spirit of community and the collective nature of the village, which was prevalent with the growth of cities in size social relations and the participation of the population in one region. In the nineteenth century began to migration from rural to urban areas increasingly turned many cities to large cities as a result of increased trade in these cities also became a manufacturing and industrial revolution important factor in creating employment opportunities in these cities, especially in Western countries such as the British, Germany and France. These countries have resorted to building collective housing and public housing to provide housing for workers, who are considered external migration of low-income earners. It was the construction of these buildings and residences near the city center or near the factories and places of business to provide the closest distance to work and reduce the congestion caused by the transportation and movement of cars. This is the reason why the housing collective and common premises get preference to live instead of houses away from the workplace.
In fact, it is the reason for the high price of land in the industrial cities, especially in Europe, one of the reasons that called for governments in Europe, such as Britain and Germany to support the creation of new projects for the construction of such housing. Also became arable land for housing do not cover the preparation of the huge demand to obtain access to adequate housing. So become established projects huge mass population is the only solution to solve the problem of population explosion and the ease of access to housing.
These vary from housing one place to another as it is shown in pictures, some homes show high quality and can not be anyone to get them, but paid the price for high-priced because they contain high quality of housing design resembles the isolated individual. The amount of healthy life is varying between the types of residential complexes. In some places, especially housing for the poor where there are no health and safety standards and speed of transmission of disease due to poor awareness of health and health care. Some public housing also suffer from neglect and ignore the government.
In the end, these homes are not out of town or too far from the city center because of that the main objective of its establishment is to live close to places of interest and industry that provide ways of working in the city. If they were outside the scope of the city or far from city services, they would be deserted houses where no one lives.
1 – Diop , Taleb. “Architectural concept for the housing complex humanitarian .” Arab Urban Network . Al-Baath University – Faculty of Architecture – Syria – Homs, n.d. Web. 7 Mar 2014. .
2- Abohariah, Yasser . “Geography of Services.” King Faisal University / Al-Ahsa . N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Mar 2014. .
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Social housing is accommodations by the state available for rent. Social housing, in the United States, is thought of as a way for the working poor to afford living by the government. Especially after World War II, the “American Dream” is to live in a single family home in a suburb and drive into the city for work with your own car. Because of the “American Dream”, social housing was never as successful in America as compared to much of Europe. During the economic boom of the 1920s, social housing was exercised by the working middle class as a (temporary) home. Social housing was built out of necessity because of the quickly growing urban areas – urbanization. This came about as the industrial revolution took place and mass numbers of workers were needed to work these factory jobs. Many social housing developments were focused on the poor in these large, quickly industrializing cities. But, social housing didn’t play a large role in the shaping of European living until after World War II. Following the war – much of Europe’s infrastructure was destroyed. This included its housing. There was a huge scramble for the government to rebuild. Social housing was the most efficient way in which they would rebuild. Social housing in Europe was subsidized by public funds. This was called “Mass Social Housing”. This was building social housing because the market cannot rebuild itself on its own. The states had direct control over this construction. These apartments were constructed in the most efficient way possible. They were efficient in that they were erected quickly and they spent as little money on them as possible. Not with bad intention, but the housing directly after World War II was rough. This period of “Recovery” after World War II, lasted from 1945 to about 1960. After this period, social housing in Europe begins to focus itself on the quality of the homes and urban renewal. This was in response to the Europeans rebuilding what they had lost and the necessity for rapid construction following World War II was no longer needed. Starting in 1975 the government began to back away from social housing developments and leave them to the market. This was due to the economic depression during the time and the governments could no longer afford to construct such projects. As the government backed down the market did step in and started developing housing itself. This opened up a competitive market in which housing would be vulnerable to economic pressures as it wasn’t as effected before with social housing. With this shift in market, housing became more and more individualized. People had more power over what they wanted, and who they wanted to live next to. This began to cause a separation of people into their respective economic class. A division in economic demographics. And with this social housing we see a targeting in more and more narrow section of society. This has cause an orientation towards working middle class homes. Although efforts are being made by the government to construct lowere in”Historical Development of Social Housing.” United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, n.d. Web. 9 Mar. 2014.come homes again.
Reblogged this on jwpruss and commented:
Social housing in Europe has been around since the Industrial Revolution. As cities turned into huge industrial centers, the need for workers rose exponentially. Thousands of people moved to the cities and they needed somewhere to live. The predecessors to modern social housing projects were funded by the factories that employed the workers. They were whole villages that surrounded the factories. Living conditions within these factory villages were terrible and in 1885, England passed the Housing of the Working Classes Act, which allowed local governments to shut down unhealthy projects and encourage improvement of housing.
In the United Kingdom, social housing is commonly referred to as “council housing.” By the 1960s, council housing accounted for 50% of England’s total housing and by 1966 the number of council hoses had reached 142,000. Today, mixed tenure a common form of social housing. This offers a range of ownership and rental options.
In France, social housing took off after World War II. As the population increased and the rural exodus grew in combination with the destruction of the cities from the war, this led to a great housing problem. There was nowhere for the people to live. The housing that there was had very high rent and was out of reach for the majority of the population. The government started a new plan that included the construction of “villes nouvelles” and “Habitation à loyer modéré” (low rent housing). The French succeed in provided low-income families with a place to live but created suburban ghettos.
Germany began its social housing in the late 1920s. The main reason for the housing was the horrible living conditions in urban tenements. The Weimar Constitution of 1919 included the right to a healthy dwelling but do to economic instability at the time, most dwellings were below a healthy standard until 1925. The first projects were small low-rise structures that provided light, air, and sun to their residents. The era of building ended with the rise of the Nazis. After the war, in East Germany, the Communists built thousands of “plattenbaus,” many of which are still standing and occupied today.
Social housing has many pros and cons. One of the pros is it provides housing to those who otherwise would be homeless or even squatting. They also solve the problem of overcrowding in densely populated areas. Most social housing projects are large high rises allowing putting more people in a small space. This has its problems thought. High density of low-income people statistically has higher crime rates, lower education quality, poor healthcare that allows disease to spread easily do to the high population density. Also if the government subsidizes the housing, property taxes (in countries that collect them) aren’t collected because the government already owns the housing and the dwellers don’t pay taxes on it. Social housing is still very widely used in Europe because the cost of living and owning property in European cities is very high. Social housing provides a great way to combat this problem and provide housing for the low-income people who work in the cities and wouldn’t be able to do so otherwise.
Reblogged this on parymayne and commented:
In Europe, social housing, the preferred term for public housing there, faces some of the same problems as housing in the American system. People claim segregation is an issue. Racial segregation has become a problem as immigration of ethnic minorities to Europe has increased. Immigration has led to a low income private sector for housing in some countries where immigrants cannot qualify for social housing, and in some cases the poor conditions of these housing units has led to the further decline of the neighborhoods where social housing is found. Economic segregation is an issue too as some European countries build separate social housing structures to house, poor, working class, and middle class residents, while other Counties prefer to mix people of different social classes into one complex. In some parts of Europe social housing is likely to wind up in disadvantaged neighborhoods, often populated with minorities and prone to crime and unemployment, leading to complaints of low economic activity among the tenants, much like in the American system. For example, the pictures in the middle row of the collage look like some of the urban American public housing projects of poorly maintained high rises with boarded up windows that we saw in class. The picture above these ones and to the right looks even sadder with broken windows and burn marks on the side of the building, but the bottom picture and the two in the upper left hand corner with a playground or gardens seem to depict comfortable and safe places to live and raise children. The huge disparity in the quality of these residences can be explained by the fact that there are multiple national governments in Europe who can each set their own policies and budgets.
After World War II the main purpose of public housing in Europe was to quickly rebuild housing to increase availability after so much housing had been destroyed. Housing projects at this time were meant to help deal with a shortage in availability, were rented to the upper and middle classes, and were usually temporary residences. As more market housing became available for sale and the political attitude towards social housing became providing housing for the poor, fewer social housing units were constructed and have tended to attract poorer residents ever since mostly due to changes in policy to provide for the economically disadvantaged. Demand for these units is still very high and there are people who would like to have the chance to live in them that cannot due to availability. Some right-wing governments have supported privatization of social housing, leading non- for profits or subsidies for rent to supplement public housing provided directly by the government.
Privatization has led to social housing losing sight of its goal. The number of units available is declining as market value housing is more profitable for private investors. Social housing in Europe was very successful when it needed it to rebuild the continent’s cities after the war, but it’s policies have gradually shifted to lead to the same problems that we see in the American public housing system. If privatization changes and Europe changes its policies to deal with the criticisms of the system and accommodate those who need housing most, then it can be successful again.
Click to access SocialHousingInEurope.pdf
When discussing social housing projects in Europe the first thing that strikes me is the inherent beauty in some of the work. Creative and substantial, these projects possess a realness and evidence of architectural focus. As an architecture student I believe that this is one of the keys to a healthy living environment, and therefore one of the keys to maintaining a successful social housing project. I am reminded of something a team mate of mine told me before a lacrosse game; “If you look good, you feel good. Feel good, you play good.” While I am not sure if his athletic theories were sound, there is a ring of truth to what he said. As I have touched on before (More specifically in our baroque city discussion) our environment has resounding effects on us. All the way from the basic influences of air temperature, humidity and light, down to the way spatial recognition effects our moods and emotions (Don’t roll your eyes, a perfect example of this is the disorder claustrophobia, but I digress). I believe that these social housing communities need to “feel” good. Take the false negativity out of “the projects” and make it a place where people are proud to live. That is one of the greater problems with social housing in the U.S. Due to an insurmountable amount of variables, the state of public housing in American cities is in dire condition. Due to private development of suburban neighborhoods and the erosion of inner city tax bases the only location available for public construction is within the underfed “donut” hole of abandoned CBD. Projects similar to the images on the top right and middle right, looking more like prison blocks and military ghettos than the homes of families. How can we expect people to succeed when their wings are clipped from the beginning? The location of public housing needs to avoid being shunned and pushed to the margins. The unfortunate consequence of American public housing is the constant funneling of populations of lower class people. The negative connotations accompanying public housing stem from the inherent lack of value given to the social sector by governing bodies. Lack of governmental assistance prevents any community based upward mobility and change. The recent trend of gentrification has brought about many varied results. Yes, revitalizing poor areas of the city but at the cost of removing those deemed “unworthy” to live in the newly popularized area (man that sounded preachy, but it’s true).
The first two images depict the creation of organized public space. These open gardens and benches bring people into the public theatre. This space is essential for a healthy social environment, allowing for community interaction and organization creates a better network between neighbors, greater group accountability. Social housing is densely populated and will naturally have to maintain functionality with slim monetary assistance. These clean organized spaces will allow the community to flourish and have constructive public interactions. It is important to maintain a steady grouping of people, high turnover tenant rates are a major problem in American cities, putting extreme levels of wear and tear on everyday structures.
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Social housing, or public housing, is a form of housing owned by the government, be it local or federal, and rented out to the public. The main purpose of public housing in society is to provide affordable living. Although we often do not think of Europe as a place in dire need of affordable government-owned housing, more frequently thinking of places such as Africa, Latin America, or Asia, many programs have been implemented all across Europe, from the Vele di Scampia in Italy to the Easterhouse in Scotland.
Many of these social housing projects were implemented in the decades following World War II, mostly in the 1960s and ‘70s, as an attempt to provide for working-class groups or mixed-income groups, but often times ended up appearing to be very unattractive housing options for the middle-income groups. This led to these “mixed communities” being highly populated by lower-income families or unemployed people with unsteady job security. The projects in Italy, Scotland, and all over England were all created with excellent intentions, not only to provide a cheaper place to live for people who have jobs, but also to form communities between groups and families of different backgrounds. This is evident in the photographs of the various projects by the incorporation of parks, gardens, open green spaces, and different facilities open for public use amidst the crammed apartment buildings.
A large reason the housing projects eventually failed at creating a mixed-income community was the implementation of the right to buy policy in the 1980s, at least in the United Kingdom public housing. The policy allowed public housing to be privatized, meaning people could start buying and owning houses. This led to the outward movement of the middle-class families that initially lived in the public housing, and thus cleared space for people who could not afford to buy their housing, and renting became something mainly done by the poorer population. Not only was this a clear sign of deepened segregation and separation of socioeconomic classes, but it also removed the presence of positive, hard-working role models for the younger generations living in the public housing communities. With no one to look up to that had a steady income and stable lifestyle, it was hard to break mindset of poverty among the youth, as well as the cycle of unemployed or benefit-dependent groups of people occupying these projects. The lack of role models did not help with the rising gang problem, especially found in Easterhouse in the 1960s. The crammed space and lack of transportation or community fostered an environment very welcoming towards youth gangs, seeing as teenagers don’t often do well when they’re trapped with nothing to do or nowhere to go.
Another problem often faced by public housing was the physical state of the buildings themselves, including the Byker Wall community in England. Often needing renovations from being hastily built, or having to completely refurbish the buildings a decade or two following didn’t help with the way the outside community already viewed the public housing. Or, on the other hand, they were disliked for being too costly to build, as was with the Alexandra Road housing in England. Either way, though initially good ideas, many public housing projects across Europe in the latter-half of the 20th Century were not ultimately successful in their original goals to provide good community and affordable housing to the population.
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In the age of extreme reconstruction undertaken by Europe following World War II, the various governments of the region recognized the need to house extraordinary percentages of their population on a long term basis until such a time as economies, labor markets, and industries had once again stabilized. Likewise, the influence of Karl Marx was still popularized, such that the governments needed little convincing to embark on massive public housing projects to the immediate benefit of those abiding therein, and eventually to the nation as a whole. In this most recent collage, starting from the top left, we see evidence of public housing intended to be habitable not merely as a space for people to exist in, but as a suitable environment for the human spirit to thrive, for a family to exist, and for children to be raised. Luxurious patios, angled to catch the maximum amount of sunlight, suitable for growing flowers, a small herb garden, or even pleasing shrubbery, along with large and plentiful windows, as well as an interesting and not unpleasant architectural design all contribute to create council houses that a family with stable income could unashamedly dwell in. In the next picture, proceeding clockwise, we again find well-sunned balconies, and plenty of space to allow gardening, along with benches to promote communal bonding with neighbors, promoting a healthy living environment, something sorely needed in Berlin after World War II. Unfortunately, the next photo all too accurately shows that even with government support and the best of intentions, no public housing project is unassailable to societal depredations, as the untended, garbage-strewn lot, and general lack of upkeep highlights both the possibility of failure of this particular Scottish tenement, as well as some of Glasgow’s more specific failings. As we continue on, we find Park Hill, Sheffield, which, while at first delightful, later in the 1980s had fallen into disruptive owing to “[p]oor noise insulation, badly lit walkways and plenty of passages and alleys [which] made perfect getaways for muggers. “(1) However, the building was slated for renovation, a project which has continued on for the last several years, with one section already renovated. (2) In our next photo, of Byker Wall in Newcastle, we again find a set of British public housing relegated to needing refurbishment; this refurbishment may ultimately prove fruitless without adequate employment to bolster the potential residents of such a housing project, or as put by Sarah Glynn, “The increasing residualisation of social housing as a minimally-maintained safety net for those who could not afford anything else, meant that estates such as Byker became ghettos for many of those failed by society.”(3) Put another way, when the project serves to only provide a substandard base of operations for dispossessed workers, the project has failed due to the failings of society foremost. In our final photo, we find a sail shaped building, one of the seven Sails of Scampia in Naples, Italy. Following the 1980 earthquake, many homeless families began squatting, there, tolerated by a government and police force unable to provide a viable alternative. This, in turn, led to criminals likewise occupying residences, ultimately creating a haven for, and controlled by, organized criminal gangs. While these failures in European public housing are educational, they should not be taken to mean that the European public housing model failed, but rather that some major component of society in those individual cases failed, leading to the ruination of those particular cases. The successes, tell very different tales indeed.
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Here we are looking at social housing in Europe. Social housing is a type of public housing or affordable housing. Social housing key function is to provide accommodations that are affordable to people with low incomes. This in turn lowers the amount of rent owed by each tenant a month that is usually regulated by laws that are enforced. In Europe affordable housing is largely managed by nonprofit housing associations with very few private builders are involved. It does differ from country to country but mostly there social housing program is much more effective than the one we have here in the United States. Developers in the Netherlands and U.K. for example always have direct access to a large amount of financial resources. In the Netherlands there is a loan guarantee program that is funded by builders that allows them to borrow money from banks at extremely low rates, along with this there is a minimal amount of paperwork. The other reason is that both of these countries have vast amount of size and strength. Some housing developers own anywhere between 50,000 to 70,000 units, while others that are considered ‘smaller’ control around 20,000 units. An example of this great system is in a city called Tillburg in the Netherlands, which is the nation’s seventh largest city. Fifty one percent of the population is social housing. One more of the popular cities would be London, where an average of thirty percent of the population live in government housing. Another positive point is that there isn’t just a neighborhood of social housing. The units are mixed in all together not creating a line of on the market houses and social housing. Therefore it all blends together and the houses that are social housing look as if they were to be put on the market. A program that has come into place to contribute to the U.K.s housing system that is informative, rigorous, and reliable is BSHF. They make their research available to politicians and policy-makers, as well as to housing practitioners and other researchers. In 2009 they published a comprehensive review called The Future of Housing. It highlighted the eight key areas that need attention. These included house price volatility and increasing the range of housing providers in order to combat undersupply and increase the quality and variety of housing. (BSHF)Europe does a great job at putting the needs of housing first to everyone, no matter what social class or where you come from. There are problems that come along the way but the importance of everyone to have a roof over their head seems to always make the negative aspects disappear.
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Public housing in Europe has played a very prominent role in society and city structure beginning around the start of the 20th century. Increasing development of public housing a government subsidies of such projects was inspired by the terrible conditions of post industrialization and the second world war. In the aftermath of the industrial revolution working class families resided in very poor cramped quarters. Entire families lived in single rooms often without access to amenities such as proper sewage and waste disposal, running water, cooking space, or even windows. In many places these problems persisted for decades due to issues like massive rural to urban migration, economic instability, and political unrest. Social demand for improved conditions and healthy economic growth allowed many european countries to make great strides in providing affordable housing for lower and middle class citizens with an emphasis on improving conditions and quality of life. European countries addressed this situation in different ways and with varying success.
Some countries, such as the Netherlands, relied on the private sector to build an affordable housing base through non profit organizations. Rent is kept low through government regulation and in many cities such as Amsterdam the percentage of social housing is around if not exceeding 50 percent. In recent years the United Kingdom has also seen a large increase in public hosing associations or non profit organizations which provide affordable middle class housing. Since the 1990’s these associations have been known as Registered Social Landlords and have started to take the place of pervious government run social housing or “council housing.”
Many other countries including germany, handled their housing conflicts through municipal projects and government subsidies. In response to terrible urban conditions before the world war two germany included the right to a healthy dwelling in their constitution. This idea embodied a great deal of city planning a social housing development especially in the early 1990’s. East germany began developing Plattenbau or panel building, as pictured above, under the communist administration and was a concept that quickly gained polarity in the 1960’s as it was a cheap way to solve their severe housing shortage. France had a similar reaction to post world war two society and was forced to combat a rapidly growing population and urban migration. Major government funded construction plans were launched creating new towns and suburbs with “Habitacion a Loyer Modere” or low low rent housing. Construction of these housing developments has seen lots of debate due to illegal political financing and the creating of suburban ghettos yet the system has remained in tack and every city is required to maintain 20% of these affordable housing projects.
Changing social expectations and the rise of socialist parties in the aftermath of poor conditions in europe led to a shifting focus of quality of life in public housing. From the pictures above it is clear that a new emphasis was placed on each household having access to sun light and fresh air as opposed to one room homes with no windows. Many households had access to their own balcony and outdoor space while maintaining a sense of community. There was a new found need for a connection to nature that was conveyed in the architecture as well as the development of green spaces. European public housing has remained successful due to its merging of public housing and social housing. Social housing is subsidized by the government but serves both the middle and lower class and as a result is able to avoid many of the socioeconomic problems associated by many public housing projects around the world.