Norman Foster Foundation Cities: Affordable Housing Workshop 2022

Page 28 Introduction to the Workshop Stuart Smith Stuart Smith during his introduction to the Workshop at the Norman Foster Foundation’s Library Workshop Mentor Stuart Smith began the inaugural seminar with a brief introduction on the projects he has been involved in during his long career in ARUP. Smith started the conversation on Affordable Housing by acknowledging the metrics we are dealing with nowadays. In an unprecedented growth 4,2 billion people live in cities; that sums about 55 percent of the population, and it has resulted in 1.1 billion of that people living in informal settlements or inadequate housing. Because of this, he explained, house prices have gone up and almost every city has a crisis of lack of affordable housing. He exposed there is also a political aspect to the problematic but focused on how the architecture, design and construction sectors can meet the need and improve the current situation. As emphasised by Smith, this problematic will continue to grow and by 2050—on top of the already existing shortage of housing, we are going to keep adding a bigger demand which will result in a necessity to build 100,000 houses per day to close the gap. As emphasised by Smith, it is not only about building quickly because most of the materials and technology involved in industrialised processes have bigger carbon footprints. To this end, Smith also devoted some time to unwrap the ‘tower block typology’ which has been perceived as a failure in the past but that, with careful design, planning and management, can become a good example of affordable housing. Smith emphasised how infrastructure is also key to developing affordable housing, because it is not only about the house itself, but the community, the local services and the infrastructure that determine the success of a model because most of the times people does not want to move, they just want their basic needs to be updated. To conclude, Smith also talked about the different challenges surrounding the affordable housing crisis such as the carbon footprint of the materials used, the shortage in materials or the enormous amount of waste produced by the construction industry without counting the demolitions. He concluded the seminar arguing that although ‘cities are our great invention’, our invention is far from finished and quoted Ed Glaser ‘So much of what humankind has achieved over the past three millennia has come out of the remarkable collaborative creations that come out of cities. We are a social species.’ 2022 Cities: Affordable Housing Workshop Contents Report