A study into the progressive incorporation of technology and the consequent use of space in “low status” housing in England and Wales 1914 to 1975

McGuinness, John (2021) A study into the progressive incorporation of technology and the consequent use of space in “low status” housing in England and Wales 1914 to 1975. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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McGuinness - PhD Thesis - Final (Oct 21).pdf - Accepted Version

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The period 1914 to 1975 was a period of significant house building, while at the same time there were significant developments in the provision of public utilities, construction methods, materials and services.
A major social change in this period was the levelling up of the spending power between many hourly paid manual workers and the majority of junior salaried staff. It is this change which rendered the classic description of houses as “working class”, or a similar phrase, unsuitable, and has led to the selection of the phrase “low status” as being an all-embracing description.
A significant number of studies into the architectural, social, political and economic influences on the design of housing, houses and homes have been published. What has not received the attention of researchers is the effect that technical and technological developments had on house design, layout and use in “low status” housing.
This thesis has analysed the nature of the technical and technological developments that took place, together with the changes made in government legislation, byelaws and reports, and compared the results with the design, layout and service provision and thus the uptake and incorporation of developing technologies in the houses as built by differing classes of developer, each of which had different objectives in building houses.
This research has differed from earlier research by reason of the background of the researcher. Unlike most research into “low status” housing which, in the past, has been done either by historians into other aspects of housing or by architects, interested in the development of their discipline, this research has had the benefit of the specialist knowledge and experience of a builder and construction professional.
For the purposes of comparison, the period has been divided into five periods namely, WW1, 1919-1922, 1923-1939, 1945-1960 and 1961-1975, which approximate to major changes in the housing environment. In addition, the houses considered have been divided between the principal types of developer namely 1) state-sponsored or local authority houses, 2) those built by private enterprise for sale and 3) those built for industrial organisations.
Fundamental to this research is the extraction of the details of houses, as proposed or built, from documents readily available. The nature of the evidence found varies from source to source. However, by gathering details from a significant number of records it has been possible to establish common ground.
By dividing the evidence into the groups described above it has been possible to deduce the nature of a typical house for each time period and developer type. For each group, the technical details of the typical house have been compared to the state of technical developments and that of government recommendations and research. From these comparisons, it has been possible to answer the Research Questions 1. “Was there a direct association between the incorporation of building techniques and technologies, especially building services and domestic appliances and the manner in which the internal space of “low status” houses was organised and used?” and 2. “Was the public sector significantly slower to adopt the advances in technology than the private and industrial sectors?”.
By considering the effect of developing technologies and the rate of their incorporation into “low status” housing had on the use of space this research has enlarged the understanding of house design and development over the research period. This research has further considered the changes in house design both progressively over the research period and between developer types, thereby making a significant addition to knowledge.
This has been achieved by collecting details of houses as designed and as built and their analysis has involved both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Computing > Innovation and user experience
Construction and engineering > Built environment
Depositing User: Mcguinness John
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2021 16:13
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2021 16:13
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/8513


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