For many governments, housing corporations, and property developers, demolition and new housing development are like a reflex. As a result, a substantial part of the present stock of social tenement housing is a potential victim of this demolition rage. Private persons, however, usually lack the means to demolish their house and replace it with something else. They therefore demonstrate a strong preference for transformation, ranging from a new bathroom or dormer to complete house extensions comprising additional sun lounge rooms, additional top floors or basements. In a culture focused on new build housing, institutional parties can learn from this private practice of renovation and recycling. Moreover, in the light of ecology, economy, and demography, applying such reuse strategies is a highly sensible thing to do.
Housing in Europe, especially traditional public housing, and most certainly after 1945, has always had a strong focus on production. Large-scale, industrial mass production of houses was required almost everywhere in order to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding population. All over Europe, houses are products restricted by a regime of regulations and economic considerations causing them to fit the purpose only, even though the premise for construction may have been idealism and good intentions. Any luxury, excess, and sustainability are subordinate to optimum use of the limited budget. As soon as prosperity so allows, the previous generation of houses is regarded as outdated or obsolete, and the caravan of builders moves on to the next project which is then for a moment the best that can be constructed with the limited means presently available. ...
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