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Architecture Week: After Grenfell

It's hard to know what to say or do after an event like the Grenfell Tower fire. In this list, we've collected some of the most thoughtful responses to the tragedy that occurred on 14 June. While some have tried to divorce the fire and the handling of the fallout by the authorities from both social and architectural politics, with this list we hope to make the case that the Grenfell fire cuts to the core of how we see our society.

Illustration by Anna Seibæk Torp-Pedersen


Dawn Foster heads up our list. We could have chosen pretty much any one of her articles since the fire. Her responses are sensitive and human. Her twitter account is definitely worth following for investigative coverage of the fire and analysis its social aftermath.


How & Why?

Nadine El-Enany, 'The Colonial Logic of Grenfell', Verso.

A powerful piece by El-Enany that argues the colonial politics of space overdetermined the premature and violent deaths of the Grenfell residents racialised as non-white.

Hatherley argues that the conditions that led to the fire were not unique to Grenfell but reflective of the general attitude towards council housing management and maintenance.

Chris Hastie, 'Grenfell's tragedy is a worldwide truth: fire is an inequality issue', The Guardian. Hastie analyses the correlation between inequality and the likelihood of accidental home fires. His assessment considers the importance of levels of unemployment and economic and social disadvantage.

Vickie Cooper & David Whyte, 'The Violence of Austerity' (Pluto, 2017).

Vickie Cooper and David Whyte, editors of 'The Violence of Austerity' (Pluto, 2017) talk about the violent effects of austerity and make the economic case, as well as the human case, for its immediate reversal.


After the Fire:

Mark Stevens, 'The true cost of upgrading Britain's towers', Property Week. A financially focussed analysis of the monetary cost of improving the standards of fire safety in high-rises from the cost management director of Gleeds, a property and construction consultancy.

Much of the writing about the Grenfell fire lacks the voices of those affected. Hsiao-Hung Pai readdresses this imbalance by meeting residents and local people to explore the personal impact of an event that is being consistently rendered impersonal.

John Jerwell, 'It’s all too easy to switch off from bad news – and it’s dangerous too', The Conversation. Jerwell uses Grenfell as a means to discuss “bad news” and the ways in which social media is affecting how we receive news.


Further Reading:

Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark: Untold Stories, Wild Possibilities, (Canongate, 2004).

I read this a few days after the fire. I didn't expect it to resonate so strongly with what's happening in Britain at the moment. Solnit's affirmation of the local – of community resistance to the violence of austerity politics – is inspiring. Sometimes we all need to be reminded of the successes achieved through hope over despair.

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