A short history of garbage housing

Gillian Darley index

Gillian Darley recounts the radical story of the architecture journalist invited to advise a president on building mass housing from waste

In a break from usual practice, I am picking up on last month’s topic, going back to waste. I was alerted to a little exhibition at the Architectural Association, the first in a forthcoming annual series, AArchitect in Residence, bringing together current research and the material lodged at the AA. Stefan Popa is a Romanian PhD candidate and his exhibition is titled [Re-] Use: Ethic or Aesthetic.

Central to the early exploration of this topic, both in and out of the AA, was Martin Pawley, student, editor (of the Ghost Dance Times, as well as of BD) and tutor both at the school and beyond. His book Garbage Housing (1975) brought together the state of play but fired an opening salvo, since “while waste remains valueless it will be wasted: and this valuelessness is a consequence of the tunnel vision from which we in the West all suffer”.

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