housing survey
a spirit of international common purpose

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For the 1936 survey the Building Centre Committee visited newly built schemes in Britain, France, Holland, Sweden, Denmark and Spain alongside local technical experts in a spirit of ‘international common purpose’ for continual improvement on housing standards. The survey includes the details of the method of financing used, statements about housing policy, and within each scheme the architect is barely mentioned. Instead, each is presented without expression to individual opinion, letting plans, sections and photographs speak for themselves, drawn on a uniform scale and with information on a standardised basis from which to make comparisons. The survey was praised by the then Minister of Health as providing an unbiased analytical record in an open exchange of ideas to encourage practical application of these lessons. The survey is labelled Volume One, but no further iterations were completed.

As London’s public housing stock is increasingly privatised today, so is access to information about it. This project asks what we can learn about the capital’s new housing developments by re-enacting and re-designing the survey as a critical medium to make public quantitative and qualitative information in a comparable, accessible and legible manner. To meet current policy challenges the updated survey is developed collaboratively through interviews and workshops with housing specialists as well as through site-specific performances staged with residents on the Haggerston Estate in Hackney built in 1936, demolished and replaced in 2014.

The project will take the form of a draft website developed in collaboration with the graphic designer Duarte de Graça – proposing that it might act as an appropriate medium for a survey today not just directed to the architect and policy-maker, but appealing to the resident and campaigner.
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