Welcome to the London Architecture Diary, your essential guide to architecture exhibitions and events taking place across the city, brought to you by New London Architecture.
*EXTRA SCREENING DUE TO PUBLIC DEMAND* This screening will be introduced by director Patrick Keiller.
THE DILAPIDATED DWELLING (UK, 2000, Patrick Keiller, 78 mins)
“What does it mean to live in a culture that finds it so difficult to produce new domestic architecture?” asks the invisible protagonist of Keiller’s film, an inquisitive and puzzled fictional researcher, voiced by actress Tilda Swinton. She returns to the UK with fresh, and soon frustrated, eyes, finding, after her 20 years in the Arctic, that whilst the UK remains one of the world’s wealthiest and most technologically advanced economies, its extraordinarily expensive housing still lingers in a state of backward ruin.
Nineteen years on from its initial release, Keiller’s essay on the problems of the house in Britain has only gotten more vital, acute and devastatingly pertinent, as the housing crisis rages, rising rents displace residents, and property is leveraged as an asset that dominates, and rocks, the global economy.
Breaking down the failures of the housing industry to innovate and re-think itself – despite past achievements ranging from Neave Brown’s Alexandra Road Estate to Walter Segal’s self-build typologies – the film looks to Archigram, Buckminster Fuller, Constant’s New Babylon and Japan’s Metabolists for answers, alongside interviewees including Cedric Price, Doreen Massey, Martin Pawley, James Dyson and Saskia Sassen. Throughout, Keiller’s narrator journeys on her quest for answers, through facts, fiction, humour and even a love story.
“Is English housing just another characteristic of a backward capitalism? Is England a backward capitalism because it’s never had a bourgeois revolution?”
Exploring the typology, technology and semiotics of the house, offering a critique of the British home as outmoded in both its design and as a value system, architect-turned-filmmaker Keiller (London, Robinson in Ruins) critiques and questions what the home should and could mean today, through ‘an investigation of the predicament of the house in advanced economies’.