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The Right to a Haussmann

Part 2 Project 2014
Matthew Walker
Birmingham City University, UK
Writing as far back as 1872 Engels published a series of articles in the Volksstaat, entitled ‘The Housing Question’. He wrote about how “the housing shortage is no accident; it is a necessary institution and can be abolished altogether with all its effects on health, etc.” This statement is just as relevant in today’s political economy as it was in the 19th Century. The aim of my thesis project is to study and propose a possible alternative to the current discourse in architecture and urban geography.

The chosen site for this study is the city of Paris. Here, as much as anywhere in the Western World, the housing problem is a major issue and has been the scene of class conflict throughout history. Indeed, Lefebvre described how one of the strengths of the Paris Commune (an 1871 uprising) was “the strength of the return towards the urban centre of workers pushed out towards the outskirts and peripheries, their reconquest of the city.” The approach for this thesis has therefore been to study the current social, economic and political situation in Paris, to critically analyse this discourse and its effects on the built environment, to study other forms of housing/urbanisation and finally to put forward an alternative approach.

Housing in many respects should be the first call for Architects and Architectural Discourse.

Matthew Walker


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