Municipal Dreams presents an alternative history of the United Kingdom. This history begins in the slum clearances of the late nineteenth century and the aspirations of those who would build anew. John Boughton looks at how and why the state’s duty to house its people decently became central to our politics.
Traversing the nation, Boughton offers an architectural tour of some of the best and most remarkable of our housing estates, as well as many accounted ordinary; he asks us to understand better their complex story and to rethink our prejudices. His accounts include extraordinary planners and architects who wished to elevate working men and women through design and the politicians, high and low, who shaped their work, the competing ideologies which have promoted state housing and condemned it, the economics which has always constrained our housing ideals, the crisis wrought by Right to Buy, and the evolving controversies around regeneration. He shows how the loss of the dream of good housing for all is a danger for the whole of society—as was seen in the fire in Grenfell Tower.
“Follows the epic story of British council and social housing, from its Victorian origins to Twentieth Century estates, the right to buy and the Grenfell fire. While every page is rich with fascinating detail, Boughton also tells the grand narrative of how modern housing was created for millions, and how that dream has been cynically and carelessly undermined. This is an inspiring read and a necessary corrective to the myths that seek to destroy one of the most important struggles of our times—the drive for decent housing for all.”
“This is a hugely timely book, making the case for decent social housing through a detailed and fair-minded history. Everyone should read it.”
“This book is crucial for understanding the state of housing in Britain. Through an impassioned and detailed description of how council housing was created, transformed, and ultimately undermined, Boughton explains the origins of the current crisis. Municipal Dreams proves that an alternative housing system is not only possible, but was once the goal of policymakers, architects, and citizens across the UK—and could be so again.”