Re: Re: Cork Street Ghetto

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Eventually people see some kind of causal relationship between the architecture and the poverty. At some point the building is knocked down by the city, and the residents rehoused in another style of building, in the hope this will cure their poverty.

This is a very interesting point. However I’d go further. I feel that this is actually quite an insidious process because it gives the appearance that the authorities are doing something to combat the cycle of poverty and social exclusion. It seems obvious that spending lots of money, effort and resources on such projects should help but in fact, because it does nothing at all to allieviate social exclusion, I feel that it’s worse than doing nothing. When you think about it, some of the cycles are obvious:

  1. From early 20th century Georgian tennements to custom built “modern” flats.
  2. From flats to semi-d suburbia.
  3. From semi-d suburbia to La Corbusier style modernist.
  4. And back to custom built “modern” flats (now called apartments).

I’m thinking about Ballymun here. And this is one reason I have misgivings about the current “regeneration” of Ballymun.

So you shift these people around spending vast amounts of money without every really doing anything. Even well meaning people who anguish about social exclusion are generally too short sighted to see this greater pattern, I think. Instead all you hear about is the mistakes of the previous iteration; there was a series on RTE last year I think were sociologists, planners and politicians were happy to critique the relocation of people in the seventies to bleak out-of-town suburban semi-detached housing estates without any realisation that the style of residences and even the general environment is, if not completely irrelevent, a very minor factor; the middle classes seem to be capable of living in semi-ds, apartments, terraced victorians, etc. without their social order collapsing. This idea won’t appeal obviously to archictects and/or planners who have convinced themselves that they can solve this difficult problem using THEIR tools.

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