Author and critic Owen Hatherley presents and comments on a television broadcast of Open University course A305, for contemporary eyes and ears. The episode, “English Flats of the Thirties,” juxtaposes two housing schemes, one in London and one in Leeds, one public and one private, one modelled on the monumental mass housing of Red Vienna and one on the ideas of Le Corbusier. Looking at how these buildings were perceived in the 1970s, Hatherley reflects both on the changing reputation of modernist mass housing and attitudes toward working class housing and the architectural avant-garde. Why did one of the buildings become “iconic” and get preserved, while the other was demolished?
Hatherley is the author of books including Militant Modernism (2009), A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain (2009), and Uncommon (2011), about the pop group Pulp. He has contributed to publications including Building Design, The Guardian, Icon, Jacobin, London Review of Books, New Humanist, New Statesman, Socialist Review, and Socialist Worker.
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