Mind the gap: facts about scarcity? A confrontation of governmental and users’ perspectives of overcrowding in british housing

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
SoftGrid in association with AESOP and IFHP
Scarcity can be understood as an attempt to state a condition of lack or a limit of availability of something. What and when we consider something to be scarce relates to large extents to the motivation and the respective standpoint from where the claim scarcity is raised. The contextual forces, which range from the material conditions and its use to the cultural practices, norms and values expressed by people living in those specific environments, can be considered a decisive factor for the differences from what one considers as scarce to the other. Ultimately, it is a matter for what purpose we raise the question about scarcity: from a historical distance, from the perspective of the directly affected, as a designer, policy maker or from a critical theoretical perspective. It is, however, as well a question of the limits referred to and a matter of distribution, i.e. who gets what share. In order to discuss the challenges of scarcity in the discourses in planning and architecture, we look at the specific case of overcrowding in housing. Overcrowding can be considered a specific, ‘actual’ scarcity, as opposed to the theoretic abstraction of the concept of scarcity. Indeed, we are aware that any form of scarcity is constructed. Our aim is to discuss a dualism which arises from the attempt of separating abstract concepts from praxis within the realm of planning. Because of the relational character of scarcity, the dualism of the abstract category and the everyday experience and practices also affects our understanding of overcrowding. What we consider scarce, does not only relate to the respective context, but, in its relational nature, it shifts and alters with the changing context, which raises the question of how to define or determine scarcity.
Architecture & Planning in Times of Scarcity : Reclaiming the Possibility of Making. 3rd AESOP European Urban Summer School 2012, Manchester
All Rights Reserved