From April next year we will start measuring our progress as a country not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving, not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life,’
(stated UK prime minister David Cameron on 25 November 2010)
For his final Master project, A Happy Thamesmeadium at the Royal College of Arts, Craig Allen starts his architectural narrative by this quote from David Cameron. This notion of happiness is even more evocative in those days of insurrection in England from a part of the population who can even have to luxury to think of such thing as happiness. Craig describes this governmental public policy of happiness in a near future in which it has been implemented in a dangerous mix with private companies such as Coca Cola or Candy&Candy. His project, that he personally defines as a tragicomedy, is a vision of a future in which the res-publica (republic/public affair) has both registered happiness in an administrative regulation and instructions (see the manual above), and given up on the social housing construction to offer it to private interests.
Here is Craig’s introduction text:
A HAPPY THAMESMEADIUM (tutored by Rosy Head and Nicola Koller)
What if private enterprise exploited the happiness index?
It’s 2021. The British government’s newly-established Office of National Well-being has partnered with the Office of National Statistics. Private enterprises begin to adapt a set of tactics in order to convince local authorities of their capability to provide the best realisations of the governments’ happiness targets.
Candy & Candy [developer of luxury residential building One Hyde Park in London], look toward Thamesmead – an area with the highest levels of negative equity, mortgage fraud and repossessions in the capital – as virgin land for lucrative investment towards creating its very own twenty-first century Happy Estate.
A HAPPY THAMESMEADIUM is a socio-political tragicomedy in which private enterprises exploit the Happiness Index’s influence on government policy.
The project speculates on developers Candy & Candy turning their focus away from the luxury market and towards social housing. By designing in value plucked from the happiness index and establishing a funding partnership with Coca-Cola’s Institute of Happiness, a new saccharin social housing model begins to emerge in a Thamesmead divided up into an archipelago and reliant upon the arrival of Crossrail.