Material cultural housing landscapes: the case of the masterplanned communities
This paper is premised on two key points of departure: material culture is ‘a tangible expression of social attitudes and beliefs’ (Fletcher 2010 pp. 460) and ‘Landscapes or built environments contain distinct lessons about material culture and human life (Mukerji 2010 pp. 543).’ These two notions will be explored through the site of suburbia, an Australian (and American) national icon, and in particular the development of Masterplanned Communities (MPCs) 1980-2010. The study of MPCs as material histories inherently moves beyond the material to encompass social and environmental meanings as well. The stories told will follow a genealogical framework to examine past planning and development techniques and practices in contemporary MPCs. The aim of the paper is to reveal how the physical planning/inscribing of MPCs into the suburban landscape effects/defines/governs everyday life. The paper will conclude with comments on the social, environmental and economic impacts of MPCs, as a particular species of housing landscape and breed of material culture. Material culture is a useful lens for this study because it reveals the complex and contradictory relationships inherent in everyday life. It also offers understandings of past and present techniques and practices and in doing so opens up opportunities to think and do housing research and practice differently.
Housing Theory Symposium
History and Theory of the Built Environment (excl Architecture)