The problems with quality of high-rise construction were typified by the Ronan Point disaster in London’s East End in 1968. A gas explosion on the eighteenth floor of a newly-constructed high-rise residential block in Newham caused a chain reaction resulting in the collapse of an entire corner of the block.
The expression ‘homes fit for heroes’ was originally coined in the wake of World War I. it was the Housing Act 1919 which first required local authorities to provide housing with the help of central-government subsidies. The housing shortage returned to the top of the political agenda following World War II.
The election of 1945 was undoubtedly a pivotal turning point in Britain’s modem political history. Britain’s war-time leader, Winston Churchill, was voted out as surplus to requirements as the electorate put its faith in a new beginning. Middle Britain was perhaps unsure whether or not it really wanted the socialism that was on offer, but Continue Reading
This chapter begins with the election of Clement Attlee as Prime Minister on 5 July 1945 in the final weeks of the Second World War. This was the first Labour administration to be elected with a sizable majority and to its full term of office. Britain at the time was essentially bankrupt and was faced Continue Reading
In writing a book such as this I have undoubtedly been influenced by many of the colleagues with whom I have worked at the University of Reading. Brian Atkin, John Bennett and Roger Flanagan in no small way acted as role models for how academics should behave in a university environment.
Chapter 1 charts the various influences on the construction improvement debate from the aftermath of the Second World War through to the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Attention is given to the industrial unrest of the 1970s and the collapse of the post-war social consensus.
To tell the story of how the debate about construction improvement has evolved over time, it is clearly necessary to select a starting point. In many respects, the choice of when to start the description is somewhat arbitrary.
It must be conceded out the outset that the construction sector is not a homogeneous entity. The author is well-aware of the continuing debate about boundary definition (e.g. Pearce, 2003) and the contention that the construction industry is not a single industry, but several separate sub-industries each with its own distinguishing characteristics (Ive and Gruneberg, Continue Reading
In light of the construction sector’s sensitivity to subtle shifts in government policy, it is striking how much of the improvement debate remains focused on narrow issues of cost efficiency. To focus on improving efficiency is of course no bad thing. Few people in the construction sector (or elsewhere) argue in favour of inefficiency.
In seeking to understand the context within which construction improvement is enacted, it is clearly also necessary to understand the structural characteristics of the construction sector. Unfortunately, management improvement recipes are invariably considered entirely separately from economic analyses of industry change (and vice versa).