The New Vulnerables - Infrastructure Of a Post-Class Society

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harry postins, history and theory 201920

THE ‘NEW VULNERABLES’ INFRASTRUCTURE OF A POST-CLASS SOCIETY


inhabit? We are already bearing witness to a growing ‘middle class’, and a widening of the gap between the rich and poor. This striation is all based upon the traditional scales of class; race, gender, economic background etc. However, these previous gauges of social caste will soon become redundant, as the data collectors vocally establish their practice as a vehicle for social change. Alex Pentland, prominent, white, male computer scientist based out of MIT, consistently suggests that surveilling the population can lead to more cohesive social groups. He frames the argument that within someone’s lifetime of social interactions, they partake in either engagement [within a close knit community] or exploration [expanding social circles]. He suggests that people of ‘lower social status’ naturally partake only in the engagement interactions, rather than exploration.2 However, once they are seated within a community of similar status, they begin to venture further out, to cast their nets further afield. This might sound like progress, but throughout Petland’s numerous writings and lectures, there remains the undercurrent of something more sinister. This is the subtle, but recognisable forces of social engineering. He acknowledges, but rebadges these as the forces of Social Physics. If the government has access to the data of millions, why not use it to match up those who will work well together?

The term ‘surveillance capitalism’ was first coined by Shoshana Zuboff in her 2014 essay, ‘A Digital Declaration: Big Data as Surveillance Capitalism’. She has since solidified the use and meaning of the term, releasing an updated manifesto in 2019; ‘The Rise of Surveillance Capitalism’. In Zuboff’s words, ‘surveillance capitalism unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data’.1 A small percentage of this data is contributed towards an augmented human experience and service improvement, but the vast majority is designated as ‘behavioural surplus’. This is then fed into artificial intelligence systems, which are designed to learn how to analyse and predict human behaviour now, soon, and in the future. In turn, these AI systems are repackaged as ‘prediction products’; and traded on a behavioural futures market. This is what she defines as surveillance capitalism, but the term can be stretched to much more than that. This essay proffers that any capital procured from a dataset, can be included as a branch of data capitalism. For example, targeted ads, whilst they seem harmless on the surface, regularly provide capital compensation for the owners. The increase of targeted ads, and the revenue associated with them all contributes to a society built on the foundation of surveillance capitalism.

If the leaders of the current capitalist state are the billionaires of this world, a surveillance capitalist nation is governed by the ‘data-rich’. Whilst there still might remain a functioning government, real political influence is decentralised, given over to those with the best knowledge of the voting public. Surveillance capitalism is a new method of coercion for those companies harvesting the data streams of millions. Using this data to construct an individual’s ‘data-self ’, the everevolving persona can accurately document traits of one’s personality. For example, it is well-known now that Amazon’s Alexa listens to the conversations that happen in your home, even when off, and uses it for targeted advertising across all your devices. Amazon have even admitted this when confronted, but defended themselves by claiming that there are ‘strict restrictions in place’ meaning that ‘only those who need it’ may have access. Or Google Nest. Nest is supposedly designed to make living in your ‘smart home’ cheaper and more energy efficient. But this immediately gives Google knowledge of where you live, when you are home, what rooms you are using at what times. Combine this with your Google search history and social media profiles, and it is easy to see how easily a data-persona can be constructed. When in conversation with Eric Roza, an Oracle employee states that the data companies can now know what you do, from your browsing history, what you say, from your social media feeds, and what you buy, whether that’s online or offline. But there are greater implications still. Once a data-self is more refined, one can be nudged towards voting in a certain way, living in a certain area, leaving a certain area… So what does all this mean for the historic social class system we

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Unfortunately, in our near future, it is inevitable that society cannot exist without the vulnerable. So, if the new system of power rests upon the shoulders of mass-surveillance and Big Data, it stands to reason that the most at risk will be those emitting the most data. As it stands currently, access to, and usage of social medias by the younger generations is rife, with most young teenagers owning their own smartphones and a variety of media accounts. With the unrelenting emission of data, their data personas are much more refined than many of the older generations, making them the easy targets. Will this therefore make them the new vulnerable of society, regardless of the previous notions of class? This essay is interested in the effects the new social order will have upon the infrastructure of the future city. Will infrastructure change drastically in order to accommodate this realignment of society? Combined with a future occupied by immaterial labour, what does this mean for housing, especially that for those most in need. The new requirements for social housing will change drastically, can we find examples of this kind of foresight in today’s housing market? What will be the impacts on the traditional home, or the desire to live as a nuclear family?

Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power (PublicAffairs, 2019). How Social Networks Make Us Smarter | Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland | TEDxBeaconStreet, accessed 20 April 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAGBBt9RNbc.

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fig 01. advertisement for Prince Charles’ Model Cottage designed by Henry Roberts for The Great Exhibition, 1851 3

Many of these nuclear families inhabited homes together, but they were often than not, multiple-family homes. Large, inefficient, and always open to visitors, they were not what we would deem ‘private’ affairs.5 What Roberts brought to the table was a super efficient, well provisioned solution to the problem of mass-migration to the city. As more and more families amassed on urban centres with the promise of work, the local charitable organisations and councils yearned the ability to build homes that were suitable, quickly, and of a high quality, and Roberts offered them the means to do this. In 1862, the Peabody Donation Fund was set up by wealthy American ex-pat, George Peabody, with the intent to ‘ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of this great metropolis, and to promote their comfort and happiness’. He launched the fund with a letter to the Times on 26th March 1862, and a donation of £150 000, roughly equivalent to £20 000 000 today.6 The movement quickly gained traction, and the first block was completed on Commercial Street in Spitalfields, in 1864. This block cost £22 000 to build, and contained 57 dwellings. From this point, many large estates followed, in numerous places in the capital, but the relevance is clear when we consult a floor plan. As you can see from ‘fig 03.’ below, the model of housing that was deemed the most appropriate, is extremely similar to the model proposed by Henry Roberts at the 1851 Exhibition.

The industrialisation and urbanisation of Britain throughout the 19th century, brought with it vast swathes of underprivilege and inequality. In the context of the built environment, this manifested in city-wide slums, poor sanitation and degraded public health, to name a few. Prince Albert was a figurehead of Victorian philanthropy, applying himself virtuously to mitigating the woes of the working classes. As part of the ‘Great Exhibition’ of 1851, Prince Albert engaged American born architect Henry Roberts, to envisage a cost-effective housing solution, to meet the needs of the masses. Unpopular with the event organisers, as it advertised the unsavoury facets of society, the original show-home was built outside of the Crystal Palace, so as not to garner too much attention. Fortunately, this tactic proved ineffective, as over 250 000 members of the public visited the house, and its legacy proliferated from from there.4 Immediately after the exhibition, examples of the design began to emerge across London, and other industrialised urban centres. Obviously, Henry Roberts did not invent this mode of habitation, he was merely capitalising on how humans had naturally evolved to live. This mode of living was completely appropriate for the time, born out of an era burdened with genderspecific roles and the labour of child-rearing.

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‘Prince Albert’s Model Cottages | Thelondonphile’, accessed 20 April 2020, https://thelondonphile.com/2012/05/02/prince-alberts-model-cottages/. Eliza Coleman, ‘The Great Exhibition 1851: The Working Class Home at the Great Exhibition’, The Great Exhibition 1851 (blog), 20 October 2011, https://greatexhibition1851.blogspot.com/2011/10/working-class-home-at-great-exhibition.html. Ilana E. Strauss, ‘The Hot New Millennial Housing Trend Is a Repeat of the Middle Ages’, The Atlantic, 26 September 2016, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/09/millennial-housing-communal-living-middle-ages/501467/. ‘UNPRECEDENTED MUNIFICENCE.’, Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), 15 May 1862. 3


As previously mentioned, this model was apt for the time, and in some ways, a revolutionary concept for housebuilders and philanthropists. However, in light of current societal shifts, it is now outdated. We can now gently unpick Roberts’ plan, in order to shed light upon its shortcomings. Firstly, and perhaps foremostly, the clear tropes of a fiercely gendered society are cemented in the plan. Not only is the kitchen a segregated space, suitable only for the women of the house, the children’s bedrooms are separated by sex. In the current climate, in metropoles such as London especially, the gender debate thankfully has advanced [despite there still being much further to go] and the notion of a kitchen reserved for women, and the labour of the home the only suitable vocation, is beginning to dwindle. This arrangement is also clearly best suited to a nuclear family. The nuclear family is a thing of the past, especially in urban centres. According to the Office for National Statistics; ‘there were 2.9 million lone parent families in 2019, which is 14.9% of families in the UK; London has the highest proportion [19.1%]’. On top of this, the current trend of co-housing has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, with; ‘households containing multiple families [which represents 1.1% of all households] were the fastest growing type of household over the last two decades, having increased by three-quarters to 297,000 households in 2019.’ 7 These statistics are hard evidence of the lack of need for typical nuclear housing typologies, especially in London. If families are no longer conforming to the nuclear model, shouldn’t the housing stock reflect this? Combine this with the projected increase of the London rental market, from 40% rental properties, to 60% according to PwC, and Roberts’ model is starting to look embarrassingly outdated.8

fig 02. photograph of The Peabody Estate in Spitalfields, 135-153 Commerical Street, 1864

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‘Families and Households in the UK - Office for National Statistics’, accessed 20 April 2020, https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2019. ‘London to Be Transformed from City of Home-Owners to City of Home-Renters in a Generation - Press Room’, accessed 20 April 2020, https://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2016/02/london-to-be-transformed-from-city-of-home-owners-to-city-of-home-renters-in-a-generation.html. 4


fig 03.

ground floor plan of The Peabody Estate in Spitalfields, 135-153 Commercial Street, 1864

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If we travel further afield, away from the cocoon of the West, we can find alternatives to the nuclear family models in the Middle East. In Israel, in the early 20th century, an alternative mode emerged, a product of the Zionist movement of the time. The pro-socialist agenda of the resulting model would have far reaching consequences, despite its relatively modest size. Whilst, at their height of popularity, the makeup of all Kibbutzen accounted for only 4% of Israelis, they held huge political, cultural and economic sway, evolving to become a technologically advanced agricultural power.9 What they proposed, was an agriculture-forward society, one based on socialist principles of a sharing economy. However, what is of interest to this paper is the spacial makeup of the segregated ‘children’s houses’, where the children spent the majority of their time, in order to avoid nurturing nuclear-familial bonds that might destablise the status quo.10

Shpancer’s mother, whose family was accosted by the Nazis in Belgrade in the early 1940s, was ostracised from her parents at the age of 5, and told never to speak of them again, for her own safety. His father grew up separated from his parents in a Siberian refugee camp, surviving six years before being released to find his grandparents. These backgrounds bred an attitude towards child-rearing that is completely distinct from the nuclear family, and nurtures an openness to alternative possibilities. Shpancer acknowledges that:

In 1910, the Zionists established Degania Alef, as immigrants from across Europe migrated to the Jordan Valley in Israel. Degania A, Mother of the Kibbutzen, was set up by various individuals or small groups of disillusioned young Jews from across Europe, who wanted to establish the first Jewish commune in the Land of Israel. The land was purchased by The Jewish National Fund, to accommodate the Jewish desire to resettle.11 In some ways, the commune was a progressive institution, a vehicle of freedom for the women at the time. For example, from six months, the children were separated from their parents, and housed in the ‘children’s houses’, each catering for a different age group. What differentiates this communal childrearing from other examples across the world however, is the desire for the children to sleep separately from their parents. The Children’s House was where the children spent the majority of their time, eating, playing, studying and sleeping.12 The forms of study were rigorous, but unexamined, and had no impact on the work they could undertake in the settlement after finishing school. The children were allowed to see their parents for 3-4 hours in the afternoon, between 16:00 and 20:00, but varied between different kibbutzen. This deferral of specific parenting, provided a strong network of proxy care-givers throughout the community and relieved the burden of childcare from the mother. It is easy to see how this starts to alleviate the pressures of the gender bias in the microcosm of the Kibbutz. This way of life must seem alien to a westerner, notes Noam Shpancer, an ex-child of the kibbutz. He explains though, the necessity to understand the background from where these parents were coming. Perpetually displaced Jews, from broken families, having lived through the horrors of the War.

Yael Neeman, an Israeli author who recently released her bestselling memoir ‘We Were the Future’ in English, also looks back fondly over her time spent growing up in the post-war socialist utopia of 60s and 70s. In Israel, the number 1 bestselling account of her childhood was received extremely well, providing a point of resonance for many Israelis from a similar background. Through her rose-tinted look back on her younger days, she describes growing up non Kibbutz Yehiam, ‘the most beautiful kibbutz in the world - green with pines, purple with Judas trees’. When interviewed by Jen Maidenberg about the release of her book onto the US market, Neeman is quoted;

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‘the kibbutz was, in some ways, a wonderful place for kids. It was safe - there was no crime or street violence, no traffic. We were poor, with few material possessions, but we wore our poverty with pride, because we were taught that material possessions were evil. We looked down on city children as weak, spoiled, misguided.’ 13

“People from the city often ask me, ‘Was it good? Was it bad?’ I feel very lucky I was born like that. Most of us feel that way. None of us wanted his children to be born like that — without their parents. But, it was something so special. Like a work of art.” 14 Despite these nostalgia laden accounts of a thrifty, communal, peaceful upbringing, the memoirs are laced with an air of criticality. The kibbutz model was not without its pitfalls, born out of the claustrophobia of a commune. Shpancer is quick to point these out, cracking the utopian vision of a harmonious community. Both he and Neeman recognise the relentless pressure to conform. The education was stark, and there was little space for exploration or expression. Propped up by the lack of specialisation in the labour force, it was not necessary for the schooling to identify or recognise talent, leading to a measure of discontent by those driven to succeed. A trope of many socialist

‘What Is a Kibbutz?’, Tourist Israel (blog), 15 June 2012, https://www.touristisrael.com/what-is-a-kibbutz/6053/. Noam Shpancer, ‘Child of the Collective’, The Guardian, 19 February 2011, sec. Life and style, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/19/kibbutz-child-noam-shpancer. ‘Degania - The First Kibbutz’, accessed 20 April 2020, https://degania.org.il/en/. Noam Shpancer, ‘Child of the Collective’, The Guardian, 19 February 2011, sec. Life and style, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/19/kibbutz-child-noam-shpancer. Noam Shpancer, ‘Child of the Collective’, The Guardian, 19 February 2011, sec. Life and style, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/19/kibbutz-child-noam-shpancer. ‘In the Kibbutz Children’s House, We Grew up Speaking in Plural, Writes Memoirist | The Times of Israel’, accessed 20 April 2020, https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-the-kibbutz-childrens-house-we-grew-up-speaking-in-plural-writes-memoirist/. 6


fig 04.

photograph of Kibbutz Daliam, 1947

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teaching;

wc;

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living;

dorm 02;

dorm 06; dorm 05;

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dorm 04;

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fig 05.

ground floor plan of a typical Children’s House, 2020

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dorm 01;


societies, this displeasure led to many residents leaving at a later age, once the social aspirationalism of their youth had faded. Emotional development was also quashed, under the guise of creating a simple and similar people. Shpancer claims to not have cried since he was 10, but not because he doesn’t want to, because he can’t.

is interesting to note the teaching room being separated from the rest of the plan. It would have been simple enough to have it open directly onto the living area, but they have instead separated it physically from the space of rest. This may have had a dual purpose, both to prevent any noise transmittal between the two, or perhaps create some distance mentally between the activities of the living and learning spaces. The classroom is extremely well lit, with a strong east-west connection to the lush vegetation outside, meaning it can be used at any point in the day and still be functional and engaging. Finally, the kitchen, which would have been typically segregated at the time the Children’s Houses were designed, is integrated with the rest of the household, and allows for footfall from all residents. This proximity releases the taboo on kitchen labour, and promotes integration of those working in the kitchen with those resting in the living/dining area. It may also foster a passion for cooking previously forced upon the women of the household. A valuable asset in a progressive society.

There were also the revelations of abuse of power from a select number of adults. It came out years later that one of the fathers had been molesting a young girl, it is unclear whether this was known by the wider community or not. Either way, this internal activity did not come under the remit of ‘evil’ proliferated by the kibbutz. The evil was always external, that of capitalism or its exploits. Obviously without rigorous protection, misdeeds were unnoticed or ignored. Shpancer alludes to the promise of a better life for the masses being threatened by the activities of individuals, therefore being overlooked as collateral of the dream. Labour was also not as gender-neutral as we might hope. Despite the clear opportunity, there remained some distinction between male and female employs, with women mostly being assigned tasks as care-givers or cooks. This was to prevent any interferences with ‘the men doing their work in the field’. This is surely a result of the industry of the time, and a much needed update to 21st century economies should be able to remedy this. Of the two memoirs of the child’s life in the kibbutz, one seems to tip the scales positively, and the other was decidedly negative in its summation. Obviously in the West it will take more than a bleakly revived kibbutz model to be truly effective, and the shift from today’s familial setting would be huge, but there may still be elements which can be repurposed in a new housing model. We can interrogate a plan of a typical Children’s House to the left, to understand the spacial implications of the kibbutz model, in comparison with that of the Henry Roberts model. Firstly, the plan is arranged in a T shape, with a primary axis running North to South, comprising the amenity space. We can identify a teaching room, an dining room, a small kitchen, and the washroom facilities. This spine creates a neat distinction between female and male living quarters, split evenly on both sides. The bedrooms sleep on average 4 children each, and are sparsely furnished, though equally for both genders. Where the two sleeping wings meet, is the central space for congregation. This is connected to the kitchen and would be employed for various activities, whether that be eating, playing or resting. North of the kitchen, we have the washing facilities [separated by gender again] and the teaching classroom, with a seats for each of the 22 residents of the house. A noticeable difference between the living quarters of the children’s house and the model for working families, is increased density of the kibbutzen. On average, there are 4 children per room in the children’s house. This may differ from the single room densities that are present in other kibbutz [for example, the kibbutz that Noam Shpancer grew up in]. If deployed in urban scenarios, there are clear space savings to be made on living quarters, a valuable commodity in dense city centres. This density is then recuperated in the communal areas, with a huge living room, opening directly out onto the yard, space to play. Admittedly, the favourable climate allows for the more fluid thresholds between indoors and outdoors, but that connection with nature is reinforced throughout the plan. The kibbutzen were established with a desire for an agricultural industry, but also with the aim of a deeper, more meaningful connection with the land from which they were living on. It was seen by the Jewish settlers as a way to reconnect with the land they had lost when unjustly displaced. This is again apparent at various points in the plan, such as the glass-sided corridor leading to the classroom. Incidentally, this is the only typical corridor present in the plan. Most of the movement within the house takes place within the communal space, the centre of the home. This is a principle that has grown in popularity over the last 30 years, also referred to as ‘open-plan living’. It

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this, there is a rigidity to the furniture layouts, resulting in a loss of program if they are rearranged. Again, we must recognise that there are requirements for the letting brochures and publicity drawings, but regardless, the environment is not at all child-orientated. Again in the kibbutz, we see an absence of needless furniture, suggesting a frugality that enabled expansive occupation of necessary space.

So to compare what we see today, in our models of socially conscious housing, this essay will look at one of the most recently completed housing schemes for Hackney Borough Council. King’s Crescent is a masterplan, comprising four phases, designed and being delivered by Karakusevic Carson. It is situated in Stoke Newington, just East of Clissold Park. The original 1980s estate fell into disrepair, after some design features left it feeling unwelcoming and underused. In 2000, roughly half of the original estate was demolished with the promise of redevelopment. However, after multiple failed attempts [in 2007 and 2011] Karakusevic Carson completed phases 1 and 2 in 2017, and are beginning work on 3 and 4.15 Phases 1 and 2 have been widely lauded as exemplary new social housing schemes, not partly down to the fact that the architect engaged regularly with the disenchanted community. The result, is a well rounded intervention, that meets both the desires of the council, and [perhaps more importantly] the expectations of the local community. Phases 1 and 2 comprise 273 new, and 101 refurbished homes, unleashed on the market at 41% social rent, 10% intermediate and 49% market sale.15 The market sale allocation are necessary for providing a subsidisation for the social rent flats. Acting on advice both from the client, London Borough Hackney, and the community engagement sessions, KCA have devised a series of apartments which answer the call of the contemporary market. However, if we compare the plan of a typical 2 bedroom apartment with the provision suggested by Henry Roberts back in 1851, unfortunately we will see few seismic differences, in the intervening 169 years.

If we pursue the notion that in the future, the social housing requirement will actually cater for a younger demographic [the newvulnerables] the current designs are not moving in the right direction. Compartmentalised living, private apartments, segregated families. We must also state that the implementation of co-housing models such as ‘the collective’ in Old Oak, near Willesden Junction, clearly lack in many of the necessary criteria, most clearly that they are designed for single, young professionals, rather than families.

In the typical 2 bedroom flat, the owner begins by entering into a corridor, from which all other rooms are accessed. This corridor is centralised, untouched by natural light. The hallway runs North to South, with the main living space, containing the kitchen, dining and living room, located at the southern-most end. The main bedroom has an ensuite, and the main bathroom is centralised, both again void of natural light. Bearing in mind, we are predicting a future of a ‘new-vulnerable’ demographic based on age, as displayed on plan, the apartment doesn’t accommodate or acknowledge child-rearing in any way. To begin with, the current housing situation in the capital is comparable to that of the post-war brutalist movement, providing for returning soldiers and the associated baby-boom new families. With that in mind, and with the deck-access layout we see in this apartment, you might expect there to be some influence from some of the more effective post-war housing blocks, such as Park Hill Estate or Robin Hood Gardens. The Smithson’s pioneering ‘streets in the sky’ principle attempted to create ‘owned’ space for families moving in, and a space of interaction and community which they could share. One of the ways they accomplished this, whilst making use of the external deck-access, was placing the kitchen at the front of the apartment, looking out over their entrance space. This allowed parents to keep a watchful eye on their children during the day, and was a conscious effort to promote child’s play on the deck, bringing both freedom, and a sense of buoyant activity to the otherwise muted exteriors. KCA have omitted this move, instead placing a bedroom, arguably the most private area of a home, directly onto the deck. Again, despite that this is probably a product of tight spacial specifications, it leads to the assumption that this must be a room for adults, not wishing to place a child’s bedroom in direct proximity with public space. This is in combination with the luxury of an ensuite, suggests both a master bedroom, and the occupation of adults in the other bedroom. In tandem with this, there is very little space anywhere to foster expansive play. Where we saw the wide open, engaging spaces of the kibbutz, we know see a warren of walls and doorways, preventing clear lines of sight between rooms, and creating intensely private areas, but no juxtaposing public areas. This is impractical when it comes to looking after children for obvious reasons, so the solution must be to inhabit the room in which your children are playing. On top of

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‘Kings Crescent | Hackney Council’, accessed 20 April 2020, https://hackney.gov.uk/kings-crescent-estate. ‘Kings Crescent Estate Phases 1 & 2 | Karakusevic Carson Architects’, accessed 20 April 2020, http://karakusevic-carson.com/work/kings-crescent-phases-1-2.

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dorm 02;

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fig 06.

plan of typical 2-bed flat in King’s Crescent redevelopment, 2020

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fig 07.

photograph of original King’s Crescent development, 2017


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photograph of King’s Crescent redevelopment by Karakusevic Carson Architects, 2019

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The proposed drawing is merely a interpretive option for a ‘co-housing for children’ model, and there are clearly alternative arrangements which might work more effectively. But it should be noted that the increasingly open-plan nature of the apartment is the real departure from today’s social housing model. In essence, the result of both latecapitalism and surveillance capitalism, and the technological revolution as a whole, is an increasingly changeable, unstable social order. Studied by minds such as Zuboff and Virilio, this dynamic, evolving society provides many opportunities, but also paves the way for a widening privilege gap. Exploited by the surveillance capitalists, the new vulnerables can quickly evolve, and it is imperative that the housing sector acknowledges that, and attempts to keep up. An open plan model is more adaptable to change, and accommodate homes for life, rather than the the 30year lifespan buildings we are witnessing today. The stagnation of the construction industry is becoming increasingly apparent, with issues such as the ‘housing crisis’ and global climate change, it is time a much needed injection of innovation, with the hope that it can avoid the otherwise inevitable obsolescence.

An alternative to the typical model designed by KCA, would be a new form of co-housing, similar to that of the kibbutz, with children’s houses, and separate adjacent apartments for the adults. This paper alludes to a possible alternative, utilising the existing floorplates and structural layouts of King’s Crescent, to propose alternative modes of living. On the East of the plan, there is the new ‘Children’s House’ layout, designed to provide for 10 children in one apartment. This would function similarly to the Kibbutz model, with the adults acting as carers, looking after the whole apartment. This work is incorporated into the modern industrialised society, and recognised as labour, unlike traditional child-rearing in today’s society. Utilising ‘childcare leave’, the adults form a rota for caring for the apartment, and its occupants. This permits the children’s house to function, whilst reducing pressure on the ‘lead’ parents in the relationships; a manifesto for genderless childcare. Another advantage, is the ability and sanctuary for single parent families. As per the aforementioned statistic, the number of single-parent families is increasing, and an arrangement similar to the one below would encourage and enable single-parent families to integrate into a new community. The introduction of a children’s house is a catalyst for dissolving traditional family models, freeing contemporary society from the shackles of the nuclear arrangement. To the West of the plan, there is an apartment drawn for the parents. It is very similar to that of the current building, however, the ensuite has been removed, allowing both rooms to be occupied by adults with no hierarchy. Functionally, the block would have one Children’s House per floor, with 3 associated Parent’s Houses.

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Spatially, the typical two bed, as presented by KCA, is roughly 90sqm. This would house normally two people, but has capacity for up to four. The most likely combination is two parents, and maybe one child. If we look at the new arrangement, the Children’s House occupies roughly, 180sqm, but can house ten children. The Parent’s House might hold three or four parents, st 90sqm. Taking all these statistics into account, in today’s society, we can suggest that four KCA flats might house eight parents, and 4 children, maximum. The Children’s House arrangement, across the same area, has the opportunity to house eight parents, and ten children. It is not only a model for equality and acceptance in child-care, it is also a denser arrangement than seen currently. This is obviously a much needed densification, an issue fast becoming critical in contemporary urban discourse. On the attached drawing, we can see an extreme version of the model, with the children’s rooms acting like a dormitory, with no separation between bedspaces. Each child has a bed in the larger room, with a personal storage space next to it. There are two dormitories, on either side of the apartment, with shared toilet facilities and separate shower rooms. The main advantage, which is clearly visible on plan, is the augmented living space. It is large, open-plan, and easily convertible to accomodate any number of programs. There is no furniture shown, implying the infinite combinations for any desired activity. The space opens up onto the balconies that were already present in the plan, and is roughly square, providing good sight lines from any point in the room. This principle is extrapolated to the kitchen, where the extended worktop allows an adult carer to watch over the play space, and also the area at the front, on the deck. The entrances to the secondary rooms open up off the main space, again providing the adults with a holistic view of what is happening everywhere in the apartment.

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