Permanent Transience: the identity crisis within representations of new urban housing

de Paor-Evans, Adam orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4797-7495 (2020) Permanent Transience: the identity crisis within representations of new urban housing. In: Global Dwelling: Approaches to sustainability, design and participation. WIT Press, pp. 3-14.

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In the twenty-first century, our way of life is fast accelerating. This acceleration can be attributed to disposable and transient lifestyle, the desire to consume and the accessibility of products, all of which are simultaneously dependent on one another. Rarely, however, do we consider the notion of the disposable and the dynamics of consumption and production in spatial terms. In 2007-08 during the last economic boom in the UK, house building peaked as 207,370 new homes were constructed compared to 128,680 in 2009-10 after the economic collapse (Housing and planning statistics 2010), clearly demonstrating the relationship between the economy and construction, and in turn, production and consumption.

This paper considers three key urban issues related to the disposable and transient, production and consumption, and the identity of dwelling. Firstly, by espousing Paul Virilio’s theories of the dromospere and picnolepsy, the paper interrogates the relationship between speed and the disposable, and the paradoxical desire to escape the city only to be reliant on global technology within the safety of private space. Secondly, the paper continues by exploring issues of spatial production drawing from The Production of Space as well as Neil Brenner’s Implosions/ Explosions to raise concerns of social and community sustainability within capitalist urbanisation of cities. Thirdly, the paper contests the concept of dwelling as mass product, arguing that the consumerist-driven catalogue browsing approach to home ownership by definition separates the very essence of dwelling from community whilst it is still no more than an idea.

To support the theoretical position of this paper, three case studies of different typologies will be analysed via participant observation and discussions with residents. These case studies were all constructed during the last economic boom. The case studies are Bellevue, Dublin- a large apartment complex on the outskirts of the city centre, Cranbrook, Exeter- a new suburb to support Exeter’s expanding city and Singleton Close, Southport- a small estate of semi-detached dwellings. The paper concludes by attesting that slow urbanism, achieved by critical understanding of existing (or lack of) community identity could successfully improve social sustainability in the thickening urban network of globally connected cities.

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