Tag Archives: urban planning

Man of the House – a study of masculinity in the mid-20th century home

18 May

By Kevin Guyan, PhD Candidate University College London

 

‘The living room in a family house looking through into the dining room’ by Frank Austin and Neville Ward for the 1949 Ideal Home Exhibition, Design Council Archive, University of Brighton.

‘The living room in a family house looking through into the dining room’ by Frank Austin and Neville Ward for the 1949 Ideal Home Exhibition, Design Council Archive, University of Brighton.

I study housing in the middle decades of twentieth century Britain with an interest in the effects of masculinities on men’s domestic practices. My research focuses on two major influences: the effects of planners’ masculine identities on the housing designs produced; and the types of masculinities encouraged through these designs.

After the environmental devastation of German bombing campaigns, a wave of technical, paternalist and omniscient planners took control of Britain’s postwar urban reconstruction. At the same time, as the war ended, planners worried that men would struggle to readjust to domestic life and face relationship difficulties with wives and children. As a result, the interior activities of the nation’s homes became symptomatic of the country’s recovery, and model housing estates, most notably Lansbury in East London, understood as templates for the country’s future. Using easy-to-read publications and housing exhibitions as platforms to disseminate their ideas, planners encouraged new expressions of family-orientated masculinities for both working and middle class men.

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