Conference Poster

Should city living be communal, again?


To what extent can historical models of communal living inform modern residential design in order to address the housing crisis in London? The residential sector in London, as in many other cities, is in crisis. Unaffordability, urban loneliness and an increasing and ageing population are major issues that we are facing. Cities contain 53% of the world’s population while only covering 2% of the Earth’s surface. With these figures set to rise, we need to investigate solutions to the urban residential crisis. Residential crisis has long plagued our cities, and as a result there is a wealth of historical precedent to analyse in relation to housing crisis response. This research investigates whether examples of communal housing throughout history have ever proved successful, and could, therefore, provide solutions to the modern crisis. While most literature focuses on the rise of socialism following WWII, this research looks further back in history to the Industrial age, arguing that this time produced more successful communal housing types than those of the latter twentieth century. By analysing examples of housing from London’s early modern history, we can understand the social trends and behaviours of past populations. Conversely, we can apply elements of these historical housing types to the present-day crisis. My research argues that housing forms of the Industrial Age, namely terraced, pedestrianised streets, are more appropriate for addressing the current housing crisis than more modern proposals. This claim is substantiated by both sociological and historical research into the reflection of human behaviour in spatial design.

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Lawrie, Phoebe

Oxford Brookes departments

Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment
School of Architecture


Year: 2021

© Lawrie, Phoebe

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