High Rise And High Density Buildings Sociology Essay Example
High Rise And High Density Buildings Sociology Essay Example

High Rise And High Density Buildings Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 15 (3974 words)
  • Published: August 20, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Inspired by personal experience of the disparity in quality and accessibility of housing in the U.K., the research was conducted. During an interview on BBC Two, Planning Minister Nick Boles voiced his criticism towards the recent provision of accommodation. He emphasized that numerous individuals perceive the new housing developments that have been introduced to their cities and towns in the past few decades as lacking aesthetic appeal. In fact, he characterized a significant portion of them as unattractive (the Guardian, 2012).

This paragraph discusses the issue of housing and the negative feedback it has received, specifically in reference to houses built in the post-war period of the 1960s. The use of the phrase "pig ugly" to describe these houses is considered an exaggeration, but it sparks curiosity about what the Minister deems as "pig ugly" and how improvement


s can be made. Boles criticizes the recent Harrison Wharf development in Purfleet, Essex as an insult to the community in terms of providing housing.

The Planning Minister asserts that the right to housing is as fundamental as the right to healthcare and education, emphasizing the need for more land for development. This criticism of a high-density type of development consisting of 103 flats, rather than 1960s buildings, raises questions about the quality of new housing developments despite existing policies and regulations. Further research into the right to housing will provide additional evidence for the importance of having a home with a piece of land. Town planner Professor William Holford also argues that the ideal home for a young family with children is a bungalow, villa, or semi-detached house with a garden. This suggests that high-rise and high-density flats ar

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viewed as a regrettable necessity due to land scarcity according to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Considering the historical background, the presence of tower blocks and high-density housing in the UK generates controversy and prompts further investigation into whether they are truly a necessary evil or if more sustainable alternatives can be achieved. The notion of an ideal home described above, with a garden, may only represent one aspect of the impacts associated with tower blocks and high-density housing. Literature also highlights numerous other effects related to this type of housing, while other studies suggest that high-density housing is increasingly seen as a solution to the high demand for housing. The Planning Policy Guidance note 3 (PPG3), which outlines the government's planning policy, mandates local authorities to avoid inefficient land use, specifically referring to developments that provide fewer homes within a given area (PPG3).

It is evident that the government promotes maximizing space utilization, even if it means promoting developments that some sources consider as 'failures', which raises further questions. There is ongoing debate about what the future of housing offers as a solution given the government's limitations on land use. High house price inflation, a societal shift towards living alone, and other factors discussed in a later chapter of this study have driven an increased rate of household formation (Bretherton & Pleace, 2008). The consequence of these house price inflation has led to what Hills (2007) refers to as 'residualisation', where primarily low-income individuals reside in social rented housing.

In the past 20 years, there has been a need to decrease poverty and social exclusion by reducing concentration. Research indicates that one solution is to

create affordable and diverse high-density housing (Bretherton & Pleace, 2008). The emphasis is on tower blocks and high-density development in housing provision, as they can accommodate more people in less space. The discussion revolves around whether well-designed, affordable, and diverse housing options can meet the demand for housing while maintaining quality. This is the primary focus of ongoing research.

High rise edifices:

'High rise' remains the most common term for tall edifices, but in Britain and several other European countries, they are sometimes referred to as 'tower blocks'. There is no universally recognized definition for high rise edifices, as Langdon and Everest et al. (2002) state that it is not possible to define them using absolute measures. Different sources define high rise edifices based on the specific context, often expressing the definition in terms of height in feet and meters rather than number of floors. The Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (1969) defines a high rise edifice as a building with 10 floors or more. According to Craighead (2009), a high rise edifice is one that extends between 75 feet (23 meters) and 100 feet (30 meters), approximately seven to ten floors depending on the distance between each floor.

According to Langdon and Everest et Al ( 2002 ), the definition of high rise edifices for the purpose of this research is those buildings whose planning, design, construction and operation are influenced by their height in ways that are not usually associated with more typical, local developments. It has been found in the literature that measuring density figures is difficult due to differences in estimates. Since 1918, a wide range

of measurements have been used to determine density, including homes per hectare, individuals per hectare, habitable suites per hectare, floor spaces per hectare and bed spaces per hectare ( Woodford et al., 1976 cited in Jenks 2005 ). The common unit recommended by the government for measuring density is dwellings per hectare, but other measurements are also frequently used (DETR, 1998).

The purpose of this survey is to discuss housing density, defined by the government as the ratio of families or individuals to the land area they occupy. High density is considered to be 60 or more homes per hectare and 140 persons per acre. Planning Policy Guidance 3 (PPG3) promotes high density construction by requiring efficient land use and aiming for a minimum density of 30 homes per hectare in new developments. Therefore, in this survey, when referring to high-rise housing, we specifically mean high density housing. According to Reddy (nd), the growth of a city is closely tied to the growth of tall buildings. Throughout England's history, cathedrals, churches, castles, palaces, and public buildings were the tallest structures.

The stable skyline in England was primarily shaped by local height restrictions and a limited demand for housing. The construction of high-rise buildings in Britain commenced in the 1930s post World War II, coinciding with the demolition of Georgian and Victorian houses. These demolitions were prompted by house destruction and rapid population growth. High-rise buildings emerged as a practical solution to tackle the population issue, allowing for more people to be accommodated during that specific period.

Built-in cardinal locations with first-class positions, high-rise edifices were embraced as symbols of modern life. They were seen as the contemporary

and most efficient way to address the need for more housing and the shortage of land. The construction of tower block edifices in the United Kingdom was influenced by both a population boom and the deterioration of nineteenth-century houses. However, despite their popularity, high-rise edifices faced opposition in Britain due to dominance of 'English houses' design in most areas.

The state of affairs in Scotland appeared to be different, with tenements being the common urban type for most people. These tenements were staircase-access blocks of varying heights, typically 3 or 4 floors. In London and other English towns, different types of flats emerged during the nineteenth century. Tower blocks of four to six stories became popular among the lower classes and were also observed developing in the west terminal of London. It is estimated that up until the 1990s, Britain had built around 400,000 flats in 6,500 multi-storey blocks. The most thriving period for this construction was from the late 1950s to the early 1970s (Glendinning & Muthesius, 1994).

Around 20% of post-World War II public lodging in London consisted of tower blocks with 6 or more floors, according to the source (Ibid). Glendinning and Muthesius (1994) state that local governments were primarily responsible for the construction of high-rise buildings during this time.

The Debate on High Rise and High Density Buildings

The impact of high rise and high density buildings on their residents and society has sparked a challenging debate. London has been a significant hub for discussions on tall buildings within the United Kingdom.

A scheduled argument took place in June 2005 to discuss the planning determination for a tower near Vauxhall Bridge. The House of Lords deemed

it a possible menace to the London skyline. During the argument, both the benefits and drawbacks of high-rise buildings were discussed. Firstly, numerous reviews and studies have concluded that high-rise and high-density buildings have had negative consequences for their residents in comparison to their advantages (Cappon cited in Gifford 2006). Two major contributions to the high-rise argument are the reports commissioned by the Corporation of London, titled "Tall Buildings and Sustainability" (Pank 2002), and Development Securities PLC's report titled "Tall Buildings: Vision of the Future or Victims of the Past?" (LSE Cities Programme, 2002).

Both the LSE study and the Corporation of London study agree that tower block buildings can play a significant role in the future wave of renovation. However, the LSE study emphasizes high design standards for high-rise buildings, while the Corporation of London study focuses on sustainable design.

Discussion on High Density Housing

From a social perspective, high-rise buildings have faced criticism for worsening traffic issues, straining existing services and infrastructure, and negatively impacting neighborhood character (Broyer cited in Gifford 2006). The terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001 in the United States instilled fear among residents of multi-floor buildings (Gifford, 2006). The constant fear of an attack raises concerns about the benefits of living in high-rise buildings. According to sources, this fear makes high-rise buildings detrimental to their residents.

The advantages of tall buildings include providing excellent views and urban privacy for high-level residents. The popularity of high-rise buildings among working-class individuals in London can be attributed to the desirable views they offer. Furthermore, their central location in urban areas suggests a preference for those who enjoy being in centralized locations. According to Churchman (1999), the

presence of high-rise buildings in central areas indicates the proximity of services, public transportation systems, as well as a larger number of neighbors, offering a wider choice of friends and acquaintances for support. However, Kunstler and Salingaros (2001) argue that high-rise buildings have had some negative effects on the function, quality, and long-term health of urbanism.

The streets in the public kingdom are becoming congested by tall buildings, a phenomenon referred to as 'urban hypertrophy' by Krier (1984 cited in Kunstler and Salingaros 2001). Krier argues that these buildings hinder the natural growth of diverse and healthy urban fabric beyond the city center. However, Broyer (2002) suggests that tall buildings, sometimes slender in design, actually allow for more green space and parks.

High-rise buildings, despite their smaller footprint compared to low-rise houses and occupying less land area, have sparked debates on their benefits or drawbacks. It is worth mentioning that vacant land near these buildings often remains unused and becomes prone to criminal activities. In conclusion, high-rise buildings possess both advantages and disadvantages.

However, the downsides of high-rise buildings seem to outweigh the benefits. Factors influencing good design in tall buildings and high-density structures

The negative consequences of population growth have been evident, especially during periods of rapid urbanization in cities and towns across the UK. The severity of the issue is illustrated by its longstanding concern for both the government and public. As early as the 1840s, London had already become a significant city with a population of 2 1/2 million. Recent data from the Office of National Statistics reveals that the UK's population is currently experiencing its most rapid growth, estimated to reach 67.2 million within the

next decade due to higher birth rates than deaths.

The National Trust predicts that the UK population will increase by 73.2 million over the next 25 years, with an average growth rate of 0.6%. According to the Office of National Statistics, migration figures have remained steady since 2004, with 575,000 immigrants in 2010. This rise in population is viewed as the primary driver for housing demand as the UK population continues to climb.

In London, where the population is projected to reach 10 million, there will be a need for an extra 2 million homes in the next two decades. However, a housing and planning advisor claims that currently only one million new homes are planned to be built. The National Housing Federation (NHF), which advocates for better housing in England, emphasizes that fewer houses are being constructed now compared to any other period since World War II.

In the UK, there is a significant problem of a shortage in lodging supply compared to demand, which has resulted in extensive research. The issue arises due to limited land availability for new developments and the need to protect the green belt. According to Colin Wiles, a housing and planning advisor, London's outdated green belt is responsible for this problem (The Guardian). The available Brownfield land only covers 4,000 hectares and falls short of providing enough space for constructing 1 million new homes in London (The Guardian). To address the housing crisis faced by London residents, Wiles emphasizes that high-rise developments are necessary (Ibid). Mark Fairwether (2000) and other sources also acknowledge population growth and planning policies promoting development on Brownfield sites as factors affecting the availability of green spaces

for tower blocks and high-density housing. Additionally, many sources attribute demographic changes as contributing to the increased demand for housing.

This paragraph discusses the various factors to consider when locating drivers in limited land areas. It emphasizes the importance of analyzing different research strategies, such as quantitative and qualitative methods, and understanding the sources and techniques of data collection. Ethics in research are also mentioned. After identifying a topic and purpose, the appropriate methodology for investigating life in high-density housing must be determined. By following this methodology, a conclusion can be reached. However, reaching this conclusion requires several steps, including collecting and analyzing relevant data. The choice of methodology depends on the subject being studied.

Carrying out a research study without knowledge of the various methods can still be possible, however, having a thorough understanding of planning an investigation can provide insights into different approaches and enhance comprehension of the literature (Bell 2010). Ensuring that the research optimizes its chances of achieving its objectives is the primary importance (Fellows 1997). It is crucial to first grasp the essence of research before actually conducting and planning it. While research can serve various purposes, the most common and effective ones include exploration, description, and explanation (Babbie 2010). Exploratory research is employed when only limited knowledge is available on a specific topic or when the researcher explores a new interest. Research is thus conducted to delve further into the subject (Naoum 2012).

Description and explanation are two different aspects of research. Description involves observing and answering questions about what, where, when, and how. On the other hand, explanation involves answering the question of why. When conducting social research, it is important

to understand and consider the foundations of social research. This includes the elements of logic and explanation. The findings of the research should make sense and align with what has been observed. There are three main components of social science research: theory, data collection, and data analysis. Theory deals with the logical aspect of science, data collection involves making observations, and data analysis examines patterns in the observations and compares them to what was logically expected. The order in which these components are approached distinguishes between inductive and deductive reasoning methods in research.

Inductive and Deductive

The process of deductive theory involves taking a theory, inferring it into a hypothesis, proving the hypothesis, and using observation to confirm the accuracy of the theory ( Deduction and Induction, 2006 ) . Conversely, inductive reasoning starts with specific observations and uses them to form a provisional hypothesis, which can then be explored to form a general conclusion or theory. When examining the societal effects of living in high rise buildings, both of these approaches are effective and, when used together, can provide more accurate and comprehensive insights.

Quantitative Research

Quantitative research is a scientific and objective approach. According to Naoum (2007, p.37), quantitative research involves investigating a social or human problem by testing a hypothesis or theory composed of variables, measuring them with numbers, and analyzing the data statistically to determine if the hypothesis or theory is true. Based on this definition, quantitative research is strong and reliable. When there is a need to test a theory and determine its validity, a quantitative approach should be considered (Naoum, 2007). It can also be used to collect

and analyze numerical data to examine the relationship between different sets of facts (Bell, 2010). For example, when studying living conditions in high-rise buildings and dense housing, analyzing previously collected data, testing and measuring the variables numerically may lead to reaching a conclusion.

Whether the findings achieved from this research method will be sufficient is highly doubtful, so other research methods may need to be considered.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research focuses more on understanding the intentions of surveys based on people's perceptions and feelings about the world. It is subjective, emphasizing meanings, experiences (often described verbally), descriptions, and so on. To explore a topic further, the interview technique is commonly used to gather data in order to identify a situation, explore options, and discover new ideas.

Attitudinal research is utilized to assess people's sentiments toward a specific 'object'. In this case, the 'object' can refer to an 'attribute', a 'variable', a 'factor', or a 'question' (Naoum, 2013). Babbie (2010) defines variables as 'logical groupings of properties', where properties are 'characteristics of an individual or things'. There are two methods of collecting data: primary data collection and secondary data collection. To investigate life in high-rise and high-density buildings, employing exploratory research would be beneficial. This would involve personally interviewing the occupants using interview techniques to obtain their opinions on the impact of living in these settings.

According to Naoum (2012), primary information refers to data collected firsthand from the original source, while secondary information is obtained from other sources using a desk study approach. Combining both primary and secondary methods of data collection can be useful, as secondary data can support and validate the perspectives and opinions collected from primary sources

that may be questionable. When using the primary research method technique of interviewing individuals, it is important to be aware of any limitations or considerations that need to be taken into account. Lutz (cited in Bell 2010), who discusses ethnographic research, suggests establishing a "contract" with the field being studied. In this context, "contract" refers to the set of limitations and requirements that a researcher must adhere to. Many professional bodies and organizations have their own ethical guidelines, as emphasized by Lutz (cited in Bell 2010). Before conducting research, it is important to consider issues such as care needed when involving children, the conduct of the interview, the rights of the interviewee, voluntary participation, and which subjects may or may not be examined.The ongoing research will intrude on people's lives, as it involves knocking on their doors and requesting interviews, which may disrupt their daily routines.

Furthermore, the required information may be personal and often unknown to people associated with them, let alone a stranger needing to research. Therefore, it is worth emphasizing the importance of ethical understandings regarding what is proper and improper when conducting research. (Babbie, 2010, p.63) The studies were conducted by Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace, with significant support from Kathleen Kelly and Alison Darlow who managed the project on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree foundation.

Case Studies

This chapter will discuss three case studies: one in the North West of England, one in London, and one in Scotland. The case studies will briefly describe the characteristics of the study strategies, their design, location, number of floors, and their occupancy mix.

Subsequently, the case study strategies will also consider the following: reasons as to why

the residents of the case study strategies moved in, the study findings on the attitudes of residents towards living in the case study properties, and finally analyze the lessons learned from the survey that can contribute towards establishing quality housing for the increasing demand.

Case Study 1:

Case study one is located in the North West of England and was completed in 2001. The developer of the strategy was a housing association.

The entire site covered an area of 0.49 hectares, and the overall development plan consisted of 120 units per hectare. These units were built between four and six floors and included both residential and work spaces. The development featured 75 apartments arranged around a shared courtyard, which included:

  • 14 one-bedroom apartments
  • 42 two-bedroom apartments
  • 19 three-bedroom apartments

Additionally, there was an on-site meeting room available. The primary focus of the development plan was to provide affordable housing for rent and had a significant impact on resident management. The main goal of the strategy was related to urban regeneration, as the entire area was undergoing redevelopment.

Since the strategy was built, various other developments have emerged across the country. However, what makes this particular design unique is its commitment to a remarkable architectural style within a modern and user-friendly development (Bretherton; A; Pleace, 2008).

Case Study 2:

Case study 2 is situated in London and was finished in 2003. The developer of this strategy was also a housing association.

The total size of the site is 0.53 hectares, with a density of 122 homes per hectare. This was the highest density

compared to other similar studies. The site consisted of approximately 70 units per hectare, including:

  • 31 one-bedroom flats
  • 12 two-bedroom flats
  • 16 three-bedroom houses
  • 6 four-bedroom houses.

This development was constructed on a brownfield site and featured a large shared communal area. The entire site was designed to be affordable, offering social rented housing, Low Cost Home Ownership (LCHO) for key workers, and rental options with LCHO. There was also accommodation available for individuals with support needs, which was designed to be easily accessible.

The main purpose of the strategy was to provide affordable housing in an expensive area of the country. The strategy focused on high density, energy efficiency, and innovative building techniques, while also promoting a diverse and sustainable community (Bretherton & Pleace, 2008).

Case study 3:

Case study 3 was completed in 2000 and is located in a large urban area in Scotland. The total size of the site is 1.6 hectares and the strategy included 75 units per hectare. The buildings were two-to-four floors and surrounded by terraced gardens. The community also had access to reserved areas within the strategy. The development consisted of 120 flats, including:

  • 35 one-bedroom flats
  • 46 two-bedroom flats
  • 39 three-bedroom flats

The majority of the flats were designated for social rental, accounting for 70% of the total units. The remaining units were available through low-cost home ownership programs, with some flats being constructed for market sale.

Similar to the previous case study, some flats in this particular case study were specifically designed for individuals with support

needs. However, unlike other case studies, this one focused on creating a car-free environment, which contributed to its sustainability along with the variety of amenities available.

Reasons for choosing the case study strategies:

This section of the Case study will examine the different factors that influenced the decision of occupants to choose this case study. The main reasons that will be discussed include:

  • Location
  • Design and architecture
  • The design and layout of flats and houses
  • Communal facilities
  • Affordability


Location was a crucial factor that occupants considered when selecting the case study strategies.

According to a study, 67% of occupants believed that the location of a place was a 'strong inducement' or 'incentive' to choose it. However, there were differences depending on the type of residents. 80% of proprietor residents considered good location as either a strong inducement or inducement. This percentage was higher compared to LCHO residents (52%) and societal rented sector residents (67%). The LCHO respondents prioritized getting onto the property ladder over location.

The respondents were three times more likely to consider 'affordability' as a strong inducement compared to 'location'. Other factors closely associated with this are: Nearby inst

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