Posted by Richard Haut on March 18, 2003 at 15:58:11:
In Reply to: Re: Housing 40 million Americans posted by Rog the Dodge on March 18, 2003 at 14:46:59:
"individual action is it's own virtue" - its own virtue, or its own guilt - but it is never in isolation. Is it middle class guilt - or acceptance of responsibility. I do not know.
the profession right through from the late 40s to the 70s had a terrific sense of social involvement - even hard-nosed commercial firms often used their skills for what they considered special projects for the community. They did it because they could do it and they wanted to. Whether or not they acted from some other motive I cannot say. It was just something that they did.
It was, as you say in the example from S. Africa, the use of their range of skills that was of such value.
This does not mean that all architects were perfect or acted in a socially constructive manner - but many did.
There were those who were corrupt - there still are. There are those in Britain who lusted for work in Iraq, even before the people have been killed and the buildings destroyed. A scramble for gain which the MP Tam Dalyell so appropriately described as "vomit-making". (The joke is that there will be no work from the US for the British, so we hear).
The guilt associated with this action may indeed be communal.
There is a very finely designed council estate in south London - designed with care and to give a real feeling of somewhere good to live. It became notorious for violence and social problems and hatred. The last building constructed was a social centre - it was set on fire almost immediately on completion. It is not the fault of the architects that they designed for a sense of community that was not there - it is however possible that their buildings will outlive the hatred and help to bring a sense of community in the future.
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