Designing Playspaces for the Emerging Society of Car Owners in Post-War Council Housing in Britain

by

Savia Palate

Keywords

  • Parker Morris report
  • post-war Britain
  • playspaces
  • car parks
  • welfare state
  • privatization

Homes for Today and Tomorrow was the last official report on space standards in Britain, published in 1961 and abolished by the Thatcherite government in 1981 as “an obstacle to development,” following the privatization of council housing. This paper explores the decisions behind the compilation of this report regarding the external layout of a housing estate that were primarily focused on two elements: playspaces and car parks. By critically interrogating the antagonisms and conflicting interests that surface through processes of laying out standards for playspaces and car parks, this paper discusses the entwinement of state’s agendas, market’s incentives, and the individual tenants’ aspirations in formulating them. Looking at these two elements as extensions of the home, this paper sheds light on the complexity of shaping and planning the late postwar housing estate in Britain while reflecting on the way daily habits and values influence the way official decisions on space standards are taken that are still salient today.