NEWS

Gated communities

I would wager that many of those who are paving the way in house construction are discussing the next step. With the middle class – the backbone of consumerism – on the point of disappearing, the emergence of the debt-burdened newly poor, and thousands of unsold apartments in old-style apartment blocks and maisonettes, the bell is tolling as if at a funeral. Only the economic elite can order new housing, and they are not satisfied with acting out conspicuous consumption; they want to demonstrate it in more permanent form. They want houses like mausoleums in a sealed, totally controlled environment. Until now, aeries with superb views in expensive outlying suburbs provided that but it is unlikely that they will continue to do so. The time has come for gated communities to match the successful malls. The first efforts failed because they were not completed. Their symbolism demands private armies and services that date back to prewar modernism. The famous blue apartment block in Exarchia originally had a salon on the terrace. As for lofts and 1930s-style flats, their role is limited, as the faded whiff of bourgeois life now comes with the sting of tear gas. For some years we’ll make do with the stock of unsold housing while rentals will increase. After that, we’ll see. Dimitris Philippidis is an architect and writer.