Documentary: Paris MegaCities ShortDocs Citizen Film Festival

Short Documentaries filmed by Citizens to Show Existing Solutions and Inspire New Initiatives?

Megacities of the world present lots of opportunities, but are also full of challenges.

So we need your help to bring to light, through the lense of your documentary, local inspiring solutions that have been implemented by a person or a community, near your home that have met those challenges head on. Through your story you could potentially change the lives of a friend, a neighbor, a family in another Megacity.

Your short documentary will change the world. (megacities-shortdocs.org)

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Commodifying Urban Space: The Clash of Promises and Everyday Life

Cities have been experiencing neoliberal urbanisation processes since the 1970s globally and with a greater pace since the early 2000s. As part of these, housing enclaves –segregated and under-controlled living areas- have been expanding with different versions across the countries. Via this practice, the commodification of urban space has been deepening while also transforming the everyday life of the citizens. The talk focuses on the case of branded housing projects in Istanbul, Turkey as a particular version of housing enclaves and discusses their recent emergence in this locality regarding the projects’ development processes, discursive formation and spatial practices.

The talk was given as part of Open Talk Series of the Space+Place+Society Research Network at Heriot-Watt University (3 May 2017).

UK Housing Crisis: (Anti)Social Housing Associations’ New Low

UK housing crisis is not news for many living in the UK and also for many working on housing. It is mostly discussed as a problem of deficiency of the quantity of housing: There is not enough number of houses, soo let’s build more and more. However, it is not just quantity, but the quality of housing, especially newly built ones are crumbling as well.

 

According to Guardian investigation, people living in housing projects built by Catalyst, Sanctuary, Notting Hill Housing, Wandle, and the One Housing Group raised that major maintenance issues are not tackled such as damp,  rat infestation, the lifts left broken for a week or so, security failures, and no hot water.

The situation getting worse when hearing more stories from people living in houses built and run by housing associations:

“When we moved in, we turned on the taps in the kitchen sink and water flooded everywhere, including into the flat below us. And the boiler went almost immediately. We’d be without hot water for two, three weeks at a time. At one point, three flats would give each other their kettles so we could run ourselves a bath.” (Guardian)

Orchard Village has been the focus of hundreds of complaints from its residents. These include extensive leaks, damp and mould, staircases that have come away from walls, broken heating systems, inadequate fire-proofing and absent insulation. People are also concerned about alleged high levels of methane and hydrogen sulphide, which some claim may have had a direct impact on their health. (Harris)

Residents have a dossier of problems drawn from more than 50 homes: “holes in roof of landings”, “mould in bedroom”, “balcony door broken”, “cold house”, “lawn dying after no drainage installed”, “no fire break in between properties”. Some annual heating and hot water bills are said to be three times more than people were led to expect. There are also endless claims about treatment of residents by Circle and its contractors: “Waited three years for repair of stairs”; “staff ignore telephone conversations”; “no response to complaints”. (Guardian)

The problems have roots in the public-private characteristics of housing associations which are promoted as a ‘third-way’ solution. The associations are supported by public money, however, act as private developers. Kind of best of both, aren’t they? Well, the result is low quality and unhealthy buildings, nearly non-maintenance, and angry residents.

Note: Guardian is still continuing the investigation on problems in the housing schemes developed by housing associations. If you experience one refer to the link.

A Questionable Robin Hood Story: Branded Housing Projects and Public-led Commodification of Urban Space

Abstract

Inequalities in urban space have been on the rise since the 1970s with global neoliberal restructuring processes. This rise in inequality fosters segregation in urban space which has become observable through gated enclaves. Housing enclaves became a way of urban space production in many countries. Aligning with this global trend, since the early 2000s, following the 2001 economic crisis, a new version of housing enclaves has been emerging in Turkey- branded housing projects. The projects are produced under certain brands as urban spatial commodities by private developers or public private partnerships, and widely use various types of advertising like any other commodity on the market. The role of state institutions in the production of this commodified and marketed form of housing provision is illustrative of the practices of the neoliberal state. This article[1] discusses branded housing projects in relation to the role of the developing neoliberal state in Turkey, firstly by giving an overview of the neoliberal urbanisation processes which Turkey has been going through; secondly by discussing the main characteristics of the projects; and thirdly by focusing on the role of public institutions in the production of such places, and criticizing the role of revenue-sharing model. The article thus questions the role of the neoliberal state in contemporary commodification of urban space in Turkey.

For full article on Research Turkey, click here

Serin B. (July, 2016), “A Questionable Robin Hood Story: Branded Housing Projects and Public-led Commodification of Urban Space ”, Vol. V, Issue 7, pp.06 – 23, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=12324)

Şaibeli Bir Robin Hood Hikâyesi: Markalı Konut Projeleri ve Kent Alanlarının Kamu Eliyle Metalaştırılması

Özet

Kentsel alandaki eşitsizlikler 1970’lerde küresel neoliberal yeniden yapılanma sürecinin başlamasından bu yana artagelmiştir. Eşitsizlikteki bu artış etrafı çevrili yaşam alanlarıyla (anklav) birlikte görünür hale gelen kentsel alanın ayrışmasını hızlandırmaktadır. Konut anklavları birçok ülkede kentsel alanın bir üretim yolu haline gelmiştir. Bu küresel trendle birlikte 2000’li yılların başlarından itibaren, özellikle 2001 krizi sonrası Türkiye’de konut anklavlarının yeni bir versiyonu olan ‘markalı konut projeleri’ ortaya çıkmıştır Bu projeler özel firmalar ya da kamu-özel işbirliği ile belli markalar altında geliştirilip piyasadaki diğer ürünler gibi çeşitli pazarlama yöntemlerini kullanmaktadır. Devlet kurumlarının bu metalaştırılan ve pazarlanan konut projelerinin üretimindeki rolü neoliberal devletin uygulamalarını anlama açısından açıklayıcıdır. Bu makale, öncelikle Türkiye’de meydana gelen neoliberal kentleşme sürecinin genel değerlendirmesini yaparak, ikinci olarak projelerin ana özelliklerini tartışarak, son olarak da kamu kurumlarının bu tür projelerin oluşumundaki rolüne odaklanarak ve gelir paylaşımı modelini eleştirerek markalı konut projelerini Türkiye’de neoliberal devletin gelişmesindeki rolü çerçevesinde incelemektedir. Çalışma, böylelikle neoliberal devletin Türkiye’deki kentsel alanın metalaşmasındaki rolünü irdelemektedir.

Research Turkey’de yayınlanan tam metin için tıklayınız

Makaleyi şu şekilde referans vererek kullanabilirsiniz:

Serin B. (Temmuz, 2016), “Şaibeli Bir Robin Hood Hikâyesi: Markalı Konut Projeleri ve Kent Alanlarının Kamu Eliyle Metalaştırılması”, Cilt V, Sayı 7, s.06 – 19, Türkiye Politika ve Araştırma Merkezi (Research Turkey), Londra: Research Turkey (http://researchturkey.org/?p=12324&lang=tr)

The Promised Lands, Media and the Production of Urban Space: The Case of Branded Housing Projects

The talk argues that the mass media, as part of civil society, plays a crucial role in the production of social consent for the ways of production of urban space, and investigates this role by focusing on the media content about branded housing projects.

It is taken place in the scope of Tuesday Talks @ Department of City and Regional Planning, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

 

 

Singapore: The Land of Condominiums

A Singaporean politician Kenneth Jeyaretnam once said: “If George Orwell and Philip Dick had an illegitimate child of a theme park, then this would be Singapore” (Huffingtonpost). As a politician defending privatisation of public assets, this allegory may have different connotations, but it has a point in terms of high level of control of mediation in daily life.

File:1 bishan park panorama 2012.jpg

Public Housing Estate in Bishan 

Singapore is an interesting city-state with its high-rise housing developments. Most of the population live in housing estates built by the state, and most of them are home-owners. These estates form self-sufficient towns providing services and facilities within their confines. Housing developments in Singapore are famous with successful applications of public housing in term of provision and quality, while being infamous with control over the daily life of the residents through these.

Housing Development Board (HDB) exercises control over every aspect of the system, not only building and selling apartments, but acting as a mortgage lender. The agency can also operate as an arm of the police. According to Phang, the HDB has the power to withhold keys from residents with unpaid parking tickets, and to evict those convicted of more serious offenses. (Miller)

It is not just the practice of HDB, but strict laws control or mediate, everyday life in Singapore; even the chewing gum:

The Economist assesses Singapore, where the PAP has run the show for more than half a century, as a “flawed democracy”. The degree of state power that has enabled such extensive and rapidly executed feats of urban planning has also led to policies that appear to the rest of the world as draconian, such as corporal punishment for acts of vandalism, a ban on the importation of chewing gum, urine detectors installed in elevators, and expression-limiting laws of the kind that put Amos Yee on trial. (Guardian)

But, not all public housing estates are equal. Executive Condominiums are built as a superior form of housing estates developed by the public sector. They are enclosed within a gated area with security and exclusive amenities. They are pretty much like private condos.

Visual from an add for a private condo Sturdee Residences

Glasear, who is working on private cities in US, explicit about his admiration of Singapore case: “Singapore is close to the ideal model of land-use planning in the 21st century” (Guardian).

While being far from in agreement with him, I think, we should ask if we want to live in such an ‘ideal’ world ?

Meet Gurgaon: A Patch-work Private City without Sewage System

Gurgaon is a city in India, where many private housing enclaves are located and run by private management companies. With no municipal services, the private management companies provide key urban facilities only within the gates of the enclaves.

The practice draws a horrendous picture of the piecemeal private provision of municipal services, replacing sewage system with gigantic septic tanks, dumping sewage to public land, replacing police force with the army of private security, dodgy lost spaces between the housing enclaves…

A patchwork of private services emerges, but only within property lines. “If you’re living inside the development, everything looks great. It looks like you have functional sewage, but those lines are not connected to a main line. They go nowhere.” Instead, the sewage collects in a septic tank at the edge of the property. The building’s owner contracts a tanker truck to ferry the sewage to a dumping ground or river.

Gurgaon’s developers can weather shortages in electricity by using diesel-powered generators … which serve only their own properties. They’ve beefed up the city’s 4,000-strong police force with an army of 35,000 private security guards.  (ideas.ted.com)

Another controversial topic regarding this developments is their relationship with surrounding slum areas.

Sewage trucks will frequently bypass treatment plants and dump their contents on public land, and while it poses a health hazard to nearby slums, public officials don’t have the resources to counter such infractions.(ideas.ted.com)

What we see here is double exploitation of the urban space: on one hand, exclusive private provision of municipal services is hampering public provision; on the other hand, the enclaves expulse their unwanted bits to the surroundings such as dumping their sewage on public land.

All in all, we should ask ourselves, if we want to live in such an unsustainable dystopia before it is too late. Because this is what we are heading towards with a speed of light in this level of the commodification of urban space.

Ballardian Times

 

Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us. – J. G. Ballard

 

High Rise (2016) – Ever wanted something more?

Ben Wheatley shot a movie about my thesis 😀 Can’t wait to see 🙂

The movie is based on J.G. Ballard’s novel written in the 1970s. However, considering the housing situation, condo developments, branded housing projects, housing enclaves, and various forms of exclusionary housing, it is very much about contemporary urban issues.

High-Rise is a 2015 British science fiction action thriller film directed by Ben Wheatley, starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy and Keeley Hawes. The screenplay by Amy Jump is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by J.G. Ballard. It was produced by Jeremy Thomas through his production company Recorded Picture Company.

In September 2015, the film received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and its European premiere at the 63rd San Sebastián Film Festival. The film is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on 18 March 2016 by StudioCanal.

Check amazing trailers out! I absolutely love that they shot the first trailer as a housing project advertisement.