Chris Saunders copyright 2019
Reconstruction: Suspect Interview 1 (Video, 5mins, 1993)

 

 

Reconstruction: Suspect Interview1 features a suspect interview with Timothy Tinker, the Project Architect who oversaw the design and build of the Heygate estate in the early 70s. The urban myth of malignant architects designing concrete ghettoes they would never live in themselves is very much on the surface of the film - the mosaic grid masking Tinker’s face personifying modernism's preoccupation with ‘systems’. However, the hide-a-face graphics used in TV Crime reconstructions raises the question: is he a chief suspect, witness or accomplice in producing spatial injustice?

The belief that traditional methods of brick built houses would be too slow in meeting the Post War need for good quality housing fed into the rationale set up by central government and business interests to build quickly and cheaply using industrialised ‘system’ building processes. As Project Architect, Tinker was put under constant pressure by the concrete manufacturers who ultimately oversaw the project geared around the demand to supply their pre-fabricated concrete which repeatedly had negative effects on the quality of the building. The purity of the modernist aesthetic soon became compromised and fashionable utopian plans for ‘streets in the air’ to overcome the rapid growth of car ownership were easily co-opted by big business interests who saw another concrete example of the benefits of systems building.

 

It is evident that Tinker, had the very best intentions to provide quality social housing. Nevertheless, there are revealing moments in the interview where his ‘authorship’ of an emerging new form of urban life was allowed too much scope to the point where there broad strokes paternalistic modernism made them prone to abstraction.

 

See Memory Block  (2016) re: Heygate Estate planned underdevelopment and demolition and D/Regeneration. See also Rank and Breeding (2019).