2007 Abstracts Stage 2

Why Value Community?

Territory: The ‘Byker Wall (1973-1978). Constructed by Ralph Erskine in the 1970’s this remarkable As an example of social housing, does not only highlight innovation of modern urban design but was the first in the UK to be a joint project between architecture and the people of the community, and has often be hailed as Newcastle’s best kept secret. The harshness of the exterior is purposely so to protect the flats and houses from the north wind and the noise of traffic. The uniqueness of the design is that the wall actually ‘turns’ in on itself with the interior being the all important feature. Object: In 1953 Byker had 1,200 dwelling unfit for human habitation, meaning a clearance of the area and a planned re-development. What is off significant is that 80% of the residents wanted to stay. Why? There were high crime rates, poor housing and a high density of population. What the residents did value was the community spirit of Byker, the working-class community with its social bonds, shared value and family ties. Along with Newcastle city council it became important for that to be retained. This was the first time that community had been recognised as something intrinsically valued within itself, this led to the appointment of architect Ralph Erskine known for his humane and climate conscious urban designs, together they created a Byker for Byker people. Objectives: – To investigate through the philosophical discourse of Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue) how we value the traditional concept of community within our contemporary society. – Does community shape our identity? – Are we being deceived by modern morality and virtues? – If so, how is it possible to extradite ourselves from that? – Universalism vs. Particularism – Is the liberal democratic method of the industrialised west our only option? – Will individualism finally result in our own isolation?