Although published in 1966, Rolf Jensen’s words could have been written any time from the mid-1930s onwards. Paraphrasing Le Corbusier’s lofty theorising from La Ville Radieuse,3 the former Director of Housing and Borough Architect for North Westminster, London (1947-56) was essentially reiterating the Modern Movement’s long-cherished beliefs that providing housing was not just about constructing dwelling units. Modern design, from that standpoint, also stood for social transformation, seeing particular forms of dwelling as capable of inculcating
progress made in developing modern social housing. The end-products varied, but the underlying goal remained much the same – that better housing really could deliver a better society. Experience of the new housing estates, however, had dented that view. First, as shown in Chapter 8, preoccupation with numbers had led to emphasis on standardisation and repetition as the keys to delivering target figures and reducing housing lists, but at the expense of the social facilities provided for the new residents. Second, it had occurred to some observers by the early 1950s that redevelopment might also have removed certain valued characteristics of the pre-existing urban environment.