Release Year: 2017
Country: United Kingdom
Directors: Nikita Woolfe
Production: WoolfeVision Production
Gentrification is one of the most debated topics concerning urban development today. Even if approaches towards the phenomenon may differ from one city to another, the social consequences of this transformation process of the metropolitan landscape are everywhere the same. In fact, landlords and investors try to find a way to upgrade entire districts to profit from higher rents, forcing tenants to move out and leave the area.
Concrete soldiers UK offers an insight into the situation in London and the UK, where local governments press ahead with the view that obsolete council estates must be demolished instead of being refurbished. This, in order to erect new buildings and increase a neighbourhood’s quality.
The movie shows how people fight for the right to stay in their home, opposing the tricky claim that demolitions are needed for residents’ own good. In this process, organisations like ASH (Architects for Social Housing) give leaseholders essential support and shed light on the narrative followed by landlords, which appears to be quite redundant. Basically, estates are intentionally left in a deteriorating state by landlords, who do not provide proper maintenance of the buildings to then justify the need for complete demolition.
Apart from the breakup of a community, this can increase the risks of tragic facts. It is the case of the Grenfell Tower in West London, where a fire destroyed the whole building in 2017, killing 72 people. In the years before the disaster, the numerous warnings of the residents about the very poor fire safety have always been ignored…