John Turner obituary


Within the Fifties and 60s John Turner, who has died aged 96, addressed the housing challenges confronted by members of rural communities in Peru once they migrated to city areas seeking a greater life. Official planning and design approaches have been neither acceptable nor inexpensive to such folks, and Turner was immensely impressed by their resourcefulness in creating their very own housing developments and even full neighbourhoods. Turner’s writings, as John FC Turner, introduced Peru’s city squatter settlements – barriadas – to a worldwide viewers as not an issue however a useful resource.

Predominantly poor folks moved on to land on the city periphery, subdivided it into residential plots and locations for group amenities, and constructed their very own housing utilizing no matter supplies got here handy. Settlements have been improved steadily as folks grew to become built-in into the city financial system, making city growth successfully self-financed.

Such achievements have been extensively considered “unplanned” or “casual” and subsequently to be eliminated or prevented. Nonetheless, Turner argued that it was an method that labored for the folks concerned, and that professionals ought to be taught from them. His views got here to affect generations of architects, planners and different constructed surroundings professionals globally and impressed a variety of websites and providers tasks and in-situ upgrading programmes.

John Turner’s movie A Roof of My Personal, 1964

Whereas finding out structure on the Architectural Affiliation (AA) Faculty of Structure in London, he had himself been influenced by the concepts of Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford and the anarchist newspaper Freedom, edited by Colin Ward. He certified in 1954, and three years later was invited to work for state housing companies in Peru, the place he was joined by his pal Patrick Crooke after an earthquake in 1958. They constructed the case for incremental growth primarily based on the truth that, given satisfactory entry to land, fundamental sources and freedom to manage key native growth choices, folks and their native organisations can and sometimes do construct and keep engaging locations.

These rules shaped the idea for seminal articles reminiscent of Squatter Housing: An Structure That Works (1968) within the journal Architectural Design. He began by enhancing a problem in 1963 and continued till 1976, exhibiting how squatter-barriada builders who select to speculate their life financial savings in an surroundings that they create remodel themselves within the course of. He noticed housing as a verb, an motion somewhat than a factor, with worth in social not simply financial phrases. The method of manufacturing, from planning to design and development, ought to mirror the wants, aspirations and sources of the folks to be accommodated.

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John Turner considered points from the angle of ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ somewhat than left-right. {Photograph}: Wolfgang Schmidt/Proper Livelihood

His analysis coincided with a rise in folks’s alternatives to maneuver freely from place to put. The mass migration into city areas that started then, and has continued since, wanted a contemporary method.

Collectively together with his colleagues the US anthropologists Lisa Peattie and William Mangin, Turner produced compelling proof that communities needs to be actively engaged from starting to finish if city areas have been to be socially inclusive. He expanded on this method when in 1965 he moved to the Harvard-MIT Joint Middle for City Research within the US. In 1970, the federal government commissioned him to guide an analysis of self-help housing within the US, materials from which led to the publication of his ebook Freedom to Construct: Dweller Management of the Housing Course of (1972), co-edited with Robert Fichter.

Turner returned to the UK in 1973 as a lecturer on the AA after which on the Growth Planning Unit, College School London. He directed brief programs for senior professionals from nations that have been being urbanised. On one event he ended his introductory lecture on participatory housing and introduced that there could be a 15-minute break. The course individuals sat nonetheless, indicating that they anticipated the door to open and a trolley to reach with refreshments, at which level he requested: “Who’s going to purchase the tea and low and who will assist with the washing up?” That was once they realised that he meant what he mentioned concerning the want for energetic participation. It was a key second, and inside days the course members have been bantering within the kitchen as a gaggle of buddies.

Moderately than seeing points via the traditional political lens of left-right, Turner considered the idea of energy from the angle of “top-down” or “bottom-up”, and strongly advocated the latter. He distilled his views in his ebook Housing By Folks (1976), which coincided with the primary international Habitat convention in Vancouver, the place he was a keynote speaker.

He was appreciated by worldwide assist companies such because the World Financial institution and UN for offering frank, incisive feedback about the necessity to perceive how native processes labored. In 1988 he was awarded the Proper Livelihood award for “championing the rights of individuals to construct, handle and maintain their very own shelter and communities”.

960 - John Turner obituary

Born in Kensington, central London, and introduced up in Kent, John was the son of Jocelyne (nee Gaskin), daughter of the artist Arthur Gaskin, and Austin Charlewood Turner, an architect. His twin brothers, Richard and Arthur, died of their 20s; his sister Mary Ann grew to become a botanical illustrator. After attending St Edmund’s college, Hindhead, Surrey, and Wellington school, Berkshire, he enrolled on the AA.

His first marriage, to Catherine Wilson in 1950, led to divorce. David, their one baby to outlive into maturity, died in 2019.

In 1971, he married Beth (Bertha) Berry, and he or she edited Constructing Group: A Third World Case E-book (1988), which they produced collectively.

Turner’s documentary A Roof of My Personal (UNTV, 1964) was included right into a video for which he wrote the script, made in 2016 by the architect and urbanist Kathrin Golda-Pongratz of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona. It was proven to the group that he had studied on the outskirts of Lima.

Many present residents recognised themselves serving to their dad and mom construct their houses and offered private testimony for Golda-Pongratz’s movie Metropolis Unfinished – Voices of El Ermitaño (2018). She organized to deal with Turner’s intensive archive within the Historic Archive of the School of Architects of Catalonia (COAC). The arguments for empowering native communities and to make these in energy hearken to these in want stay as legitimate in the present day as when Turner promoted them.

He’s survived by Beth, his stepchildren Heidi, Jayne and Christopher, grandchildren Vanessa, Amarun, Paccha and Tomi, and Mary Ann.


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