Rowan Moore: the best architecture of 2015

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Rowan Moore: the best architecture of 2015
The Whitworth, Manchester by MUMA

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Rowan Moore: the best architecture of 2015
The Whitworth, Manchester by MUMA

From dumb towers to cool interventions, 2015 saw the gap widen between the big and brainless and the small and thoughtful

Pretty much everyone in the business of considering such things – politicians, journalists, architects – decided that housing was one of the biggest issues facing the country. Mostly attention was on those areas where there is too little and it is too expensive – in particular, but not only, London and most of southern England.

Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners revisited the idea that methods of mass production could make homes cheaper and better. Quietly heroic practices produced not-bad developments, but not enough. George Osborne decided that the answer was to give more subsidies to private housebuilders to achieve a short-term boost in home-ownership, at the expense of the longer-term affordable housing offered by housing associations and local authorities.

In London more and more proposals for towers came forward in response to the fantasy that housing need is best met by stacking up units of investment priced in the millions, and tens and hundreds of millions. But, lest anyone think that the city’s mayor doesn’t care for its citizens’ wellbeing, they can comfort themselves with the Garden Bridge, a project whose Teflon coating of PR and influence enables it to withstand almost any scandal about its funding and procurement. Though those citizens may have to queue to get on it, and they may not be able to sit down on the grass when they do. […]

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