In many cities social housing towers constructed between the 1930s and 1970s are demolished. In this lecture Prof. Stephen Graham explores the causal connection between the demonisation and dismantling of these social housing towers and the contemporary proliferation of radically different residential towers build for elites.
What is the causal connection between the dismantling of social housing towers on the one hand, and the rise of condo towers for the superrich on the other hand? On the basis of a critical look at the contemporary housing crises, Prof. Graham argues that this has resulted in a clear reduction of state-intervention in housing production. Making use of case studies drawn from Vancouver, New York, London, Mumbai, and Guatemala City, he states that a market-driven neo-liberal urban orthodoxy rules the current housing market, which proliferates the image of social housing as a failure. As a consequence, ‘luxification’ has taken over the urban skies these days: housing the superrich in expensive condo towers. The challenges this dominance of elite interests cause in contemporary cities are explored during this lecture.
Graham is an academic and author who researches cities and urban life. He is Professor of Cities and Society at the Global Urban Research Unit and is based in Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. He has a background in Geography, Planning and the Sociology of Technology. His research centres, in particular, on: – relations between cities, technology and infrastructure – urban aspects of surveillance – the mediation of urban life by digital technologies; and – connections between security, militarisation and urban life. Writing, publishing and lecturing across many countries and a variety of disciplines, Graham has been Visiting Professor at MIT and NYU, amongst other institutions. The author, editor or co-author of seven major books, his work has been translated into fifteen languages.
His research draws on critical social and urban theory to address some of the key challenges facing our rapidly urbanizing world. His focus, specifically, is on four related areas:
- The politics of urban infrastructure, materiality and mobility;
- The urban aspects of social and digital surveillance;
- The links between cities and digital media; and
- The politics of urban security and the ‘new military urbanism’