The Dilapidated Dwelling (2000)
1h 20min · Documentary · 6 October 2000
A woman is recalled to Britain from the Arctic, where she has spent twenty years working with people who build their houses from snow, and given the task of investigating 'the predicament of the house'. She discovers that in Britain, unlike in Japan, the global economy has not managed to bring down the price of new houses, and indeed the principal effect of the digital economy has been to create wealth which has raised the market price of the existing, dilapidated housing stock. In a supermarket, the kind of building to which the techniques of low-cost mass building have been successfully applied, she meets an old friend and they fall in love; they look for somewhere to settle down. Investigating the utopian architects Constant, Buckminster Fuller and the Archigram group she finds that their ideas have all failed to affect the housing economy, and that only 28% of house buyers in Britain would consider buying a new house, and that at the current rate of building, each house now standing in Britain will have to last for more than 5,000 years. At both the rich and poor ends of society, some have succeded in escaping dilapidated dwellings. Wealthy individual architects have put systemic building theories into practice: she visits the Eames house, built from factory-made parts. She sees the revival of interest in social housing and visits both Goldfinger's Trellick Tower and an estate in Byker. She is disappointed to discover that the architects of the millennium village at Greenwich have disowned the project once the developers have put it into practice. Finally, she reflects that it may never be possible to reconcile the needs of the dwelling place with the globalised economy.
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