Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Thursday September 04 2008

I just came across a piece by Alice the Architect (a recent discovery for me) about an attempt to make Robin Hood Gardens ...

image

... a listed building.  Alice the Architect describes how such things were built, then fasts forward to now:

The British weather is not kind to concrete, and it is stained with dark streaks from rain and dirt. Bits are beginning to deteriorate and the wet is getting to the reinforcement, blowing off the concrete cover, causing more damage. The gardens, maintained for only a couple of years by the council before the budget was spent on Diversity Awareness Officers, are now havens for fly tippers, perverts and gangs of hoodies. The dark, graffitted corridors and stairwells stink of wee, and shifty looking men and youths push drugs, knives and guns. The windows leak and the place is impossible to heat effectively. The lifts are never working, and the young mother has to pull her child’s buggy, shopping and baby up five floors - she daren’t leave something behind for another trip as it will be stolen the minute she turns her back. Most of the front doors have bars across them. The streets in the sky are great for yobs to throw things at the neighbours, the police, the ambulance staff, the postman and whoever else is trying to carry out their normal business.

The very form of such buildings does not exactly encourage crime, as it is people, not architecture, who perpetrate it, but the design does make it a lot easier for those whose main mission in life is to make things miserable for others, or who think of nothing but their next fix and their next miserable little petty crime.

That was posted in early June, but I doubt things have changed that much since then.

For further thoughts from Alice the Architect on the complex relationship between architecture and human behaviour, see also this earlier posting, which ends on this unhappy note:

Whatever you do, whatever they are given, some people are just dirty, lazy, apathetic and disgusting.

I think the key variable is whether the monsters find it easy to monsterfy the entire place, or whether the place puts (or at least helps to put) the monsters on the defensive.

My home is a bit mosterish.  Certainly very dusty.  But, there’s no way my bad cleaning habits will spread to my neighbours, unless they’re monsters too.