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The Broadwater Farm Estate and the Social Production of Space: How has the role of architectural practice and design decisions affected the transformation of the estate from a no-go area, into success

Part 2 Dissertation 2014
Devonne Coll
Manchester School of Architecture Manchester | UK
Britain’s Post-War social housing programmes embraced the modernist view of high-rise design, however the realities of these schemes were far from ideal. The Broadwater Farm Estate, Tottenham, is a profound example of this; when fully completed in 1973, crime, vandalism and other forms of anti-social behaviour plagued the estate, with a particularly violent riot occurring in 1985. It was deemed so beyond help that the council considered demolishing it, but the estate was rescued following an extensive regeneration beginning in 1993.

For years it has been questioned whether the design of the estate is to blame for its numerous social problems. The production of social space as described by Henri Lefebvre (Lefebvre, 1991), is the understanding that space is both socially productive and socially produced; the principle being that space is formed from an amalgamation of different factors forming complex relationships, more specifically, a mutually affecting relationship between the material and the social. Considering architecture as part of the production of space, in this dissertation I have analysed the mutuality of social, material, political, economic and historical aspects, and how these have evolved throughout time, in order to assess the role of architectural practice and design decisions made in transforming the estate into a successful housing scheme.

This research formed a chronological narrative of the estate, including before the regeneration, after, and the present day, investigating the many views of the process - from the tenants, local residents, architects, political positions and the media. Archival research, collection of media reports and interviews, have contributed to understanding the story of the estate and the regeneration, formed by web of factors all attributing to the social production of space.

Devonne Coll

Lukasz Stanek
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