Architectural Education in the UK has drifted toward an esoteric preoccupation with style and artistic production and is ignoring important issues of society and urban change. Techniques of user participation and involvement of students in real life social problems is on the agenda in only a few schools of architecture. Yet in the real world more emphasis is being placed on tenants and resident participation in social housing programmes. The Community Technical Aid movement is going from strength to strength. However UK schools of architecture are not preparing students for work of this kind. In this paper it is argued that architectural history and theory is largely to blame for placing too much emphasis on precedent studies divorced from social and political context. Progressive movements in CIAM and radical social programmes are ignored in favour of pre-occupation with fashionable but content free stylisms.
Going along with the end of the “golden age” of the welfare state, the fordist paradigm of social housing has been considerably transformed. From the 1980s onwards, a new paradigm of social housing has been shaped in Germany in terms of provision, institutional organization and design. This transformation can be interpreted as a result of the interplay between the transformation of national welfare state and housing policies, the implementation of entrepreneurial urban policies and a shift in architectural and urban development models. Using an integrated approach to understand form and function of social housing, the paper characterizes the new paradigm established and nevertheless interprets it within the continuity of the specific German welfare resp. housing regime, the “German social housing market economy”.