Our cities are atrophying: What was once an open system inhabitable by all and that was about freedom and self-determination is becoming a zone in which architecture focuses only on comfort and security: a walk-in investment portfolio of luxury properties, offices and token patches of green. The masses, meanwhile, continue to live in the endless housing developments of the suburbs. Accommodation is characterised by a mania for barricades and comfort. The construction industry is booming - and builds the same houses over and over again. But do those buildings have anything to do with the way in which most people want to live today, considering dramatic demographic, technological and social change? Where does the dream of the detached house come from? Which ideal form of living are we taught by children's books, lifestyle magazines and DIY shops? Who benefits from us living the way we live? Niklas Maak shows how the interests of the construction industry, overextended policies mired in regulations and the habits of planners prevent us from rethinking construction, living arrangements and the city. This humorous, controversial and very well researched book is a precise economic analysis of the architectural world, a brilliant cultural history of living arrangements and a political manifesto for a new kind of architecture.
Niklas Maak is a writer and arts editor at the "FrankfurterAllgemeine Zeitung, "and a John T. Dunlop Lecturer of Housing and Urbanization at Harvard. He is the author of "Le Corbusier: The Architect on the Beach, " also published by Hirmer Publishers.