18 April 2013

Housing by People

Development, Part 3a

Housing by People

Housing by People (excerpts attached), by John Charlewood Turner, is a discussion of housing, from a well-educated point of view, and of where decisive power should lie, who should act, and how all these responsibilities should be divided up.

Turner’s book can serve us as a small link to the great, beautiful and necessary field of study called urbanism, of which very little emerges into the general public realm. Urbanism is a site of ideological struggle. It is also a labyrinth, in which it is easy to get lost. Turner, as you will see, refers to “the mirage of development”; meaning the illusion of development.

Turner’s focus in the two chapters that are given here is on autonomy versus heteronomy, and on proscription versus prescription. In short, he is in favour of Power to the People.

Turner is undoubtedly a partisan of the poor petty-bourgeoisie, and is a very clear-minded student of, and exponent of, their needs.

For the partisans of the working class, Turner’s guidelines are therefore invaluable. They provide insight into the world of a class that is quite different from the proletariat. The two classes are very close in time and space, even as close as to be co-existent in the same biological families; yet their needs and outlooks are different.

Predecessors to Turner in this urban-studies tradition have been Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford, and Ebenezer Howard.

The illustration shows Howard’s famous diagram “The Three Magnets”, from his 1902 book “Garden Cities of To-morrow”.