Housing, health and hardware

Read two fucking good blog posts today.


First is this one by Charlie Clemoes about The Wire how it portrays the battles we fight over public housing (very similar ideas to Dan’s talk last year at the Cross Government Design Meetup at London Design Festival);

Poot cherishes the housing, recalling fond memories of time spent there: ‘I been seen some shit happen up in them towers, it still make me smile, yo.’ In Poot's view, no matter how bad their reputation, these towers shaped his life. They were home for him and for many hundreds of others. As such, they had a major impact on his sense of who he is and where he belongs. ‘I'm talkin' about people.’ he says, ‘Memories an' shit.’

Meanwhile, Bodie is much less sentimental, essentially taking the view that towers are merely functional and economic, and that the experience of the people living them doesn’t matter at all. ‘Y'all talkin' about steel and concrete, man.’ He replies to Poot, ‘Steel and fucking concrete,’ later explaining that, ‘they gonna tear this building down, they gonna build some new shit. But people? They don't give a fuck about people.’

Taken together, both characters' sentiments say something about the meaning of the Franklin Terrace Towers. On the one hand, housing is the container of a rich tapestry of human experience. On the other hand, they are also simply buildings, primarily meant to provide safe and reliable shelter.

As Bodie and Poot approach the crowd, their debate is punctuated by a speech from the city's mayor, Clarence Royce. After some choice words about the legacy of the towers, and right before pushing down on the detonator, Royce concludes by asking the crowd: ‘Are you ready for a new Baltimore?

Memories, Steel and Concrete: The Wire’s Season 3 Opener, from failedarchitecture.com

Second (and very related to the first) is this thumper from the London School of Economics blog, digging up the numbers behind the use of management consultants in the NHS;

While in some cases spending on management consultants did improve efficiency, overall consulting use generated inefficiency, thus making the financial situation of clients worse. In monetary terms, these losses were not great – on average £10,600 for each hospital trust per annum. However, this is in addition to the £1.2 million fees already paid annually to management consultants on average by each trust for little or no gain.

These findings suggest that while efficiency gains are possible through using management consultancy, they are the exception rather than the norm.

[...]

From the available data, it is not possible to explain exactly why management consultants are having such a negative impact on efficiency. Part of the problem may be their lack of in-depth understanding of healthcare organisations or disruption caused by having too many consulting projects.

Using management consultancy brings inefficiency to the NHS, from the LSE British Politics and Policy blog

Won’t be many surprises in that for anyone who’s worked in the public sector (or worked in any organisation trying to deliver a strategy created by a management consultant) but it’s good to see someone finally working the numbers on this.


If you find this stuff interesting, can’t recommend the free zones chapter of Keller Easterling’s Infrastructure Space enough.