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Memory: Concrete- Archive of the recent urban past

Part 1 Project 2015
Ivan Chin
Newcastle University, UK
This project explores the recent history of Concrete as an emblematic material, a material that during the immediate post-war period in UK came to be associated with progressive social values, optimism, progress and human betterment. However, in less than half a century, it has become synonymous with material failure, design arrogance and urban problems. Particularly, Robin Hood Gardens, London, a Brutalist social housing estate that became highly controversial for its struggle for listing.

Post-war buildings, are being removed disproportionately from British cities, sometimes because of failure, but mostly because some people simply determine Concrete to be undesirable; a material which has come to embody the wrong associations for this current time. The site is set in the historic City of Durham, beside two excellent examples of post-war modernist design, the Kingsgate Bridge by Ove Arup and Dunelm House by Architects Co-Partnership.

In response, the Archive lays a concept to preserve controversy. Present-day treatment of Modern Housing blocks needs to be rethought, specifically with the loss of tangible and intangible heritage. The Archive of Recent Urban Past will continue to build a social context around the temporality and social contestation that often accompanies the material, Concrete.

Ivan Chin


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