Housing after Debt?

A discussion with Alastair Parvin

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Illustration Evgenia Barinova
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Image from ‘Housing Without Debt’ by Alastair Parvin.

“When you look at the so-called growth during the 1990s up to today, the majority has come from two sectors, the property sector and financial services. We have invented money as debt, bought it in to inflated property and counted it as growth, when the actual economic growth which underlied that was pretty negligible.” Alastair Parvin

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Scale model of London at an international real estate fair. Image ©Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

“That is what I, and many other architects have found themselves doing, moving away from the design to thinking about the economic models in which our buildings are created as we all got fed up. We didn’t really understand the business models of the people for which we were working.” Alastair Parvin

“The moment we can disintermediate this short-term speculative model, is the moment we can decrease the separation from the person who builds the thing to the end user. You get a profoundly different housing economy emerging, which is one where we can actually invest in the long-term performance of places.” Alastair Parvin

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High-end apartments under construction on the Southbank, London. Image © Hannah Wood

“Homeowners are who architects want to be working for. For the people who love good design, the people who are going to live there and use it. Architects hate working for the speculative developers who are always telling them to make the ceilings lower.” Alastair Parvin

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From ‘The Future of Planning’ by Alastair Parvin

“Basically we have taken the existing industry and given it computers, but digitization is about fundamentally changing the shape of the industry.” Alastair Parvin

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The aftermath of the Grenfell tower fire in 2017 © Dan Kitwood
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The homebuilding industry is in a constant state of flux. From Scaling the Citizen Sector by Alastair Parvin.

“Perhaps it is worth reconsidering what home ownership means. If it’s about the freedom to build, to adapt and to put down roots, a freedom from an economic extraction process, can you do any of these anyway in a developer-built New York condo?”

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Architect and researcher based in Tanzania, East Africa. Follow for discussions on how global developments are shaping the built environment👇

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