Reconstructing public housing

BookReconstructing public housing

Reconstructing public housing

Liverpool’s hidden history of collective alternatives


August 4th, 2020


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An Open Access edition of this book is available on the Liverpool University Press website and the OAPEN library.
Reconstructing Public Housing unearths Liverpool’s hidden history of radical alternatives to municipal housing development and builds a vision of how we might reconstruct public housing on more democratic and cooperative foundations. In this critical urban history, Matthew Thompson brings to light how and why this remarkable city became host to two pioneering social movements in collective housing and urban regeneration experimentation. In the 1970s, Liverpool produced one of Britain’s largest, most democratic and socially innovative housing co-op movements, including the country’s first new-build co-op to be designed, developed and owned by its member-residents. Four decades later, in some of the very same neighbourhoods, several campaigns for urban community land trusts are growing from the grassroots – including the first ever architectural or housing project to be nominated for and win, in 2015, the artworld’s coveted Turner Prize. Thompson traces the connections between these movements; how they were shaped by, and in turn transformed, the politics, economics, culture and urbanism of Liverpool. Drawing on theories of capitalism and cooperativism, property and the commons, institutional change and urban transformation, Thompson reconsiders Engels’ housing question, reflecting on how collective alternatives work in, against and beyond the state and capital, in often surprising and contradictory ways.

'This book makes a very significant contribution to housing and urban studies. Extremely readable, making complex theory understandable, and theorists accessible, it is articulate and well-written - a pleasure to read.' Dr Quintin Bradley, Leeds Beckett University

'The author successfully combines a visionary idealism with a realistic assessment of limits, conditions and barriers that have confined us to a few glimpses of how utopian collectivism and commons could provide a real alternative to the historic statist tradition of public housing.' Professor David Mullins, Emeritus Professor of Housing Policy, University of Birmingham

Author Information

Matthew Thompson, is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy, Practice and Place, University of Liverpool.