Much has been said and written about the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in the last few days. As a nation we have been profoundly moved, saddened and angered, by the scale of the disaster and by the loss of life. We have also seen people in our communities respond quickly to need, coming together to provide basic support on the ground and to show solidarity.
We at the Glass-House would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the many people who have lost loved ones, be they family, friends or neighbours. We would also like to celebrate the strength of community that people who live locally and who have travelled from afar, have shown.
As a national charity dedicated to championing design quality and to empowering people to play an active role in shaping their places, we feel that now more than ever, it is important for us to stand up for better place quality and greater place equality in this country. Grenfell Tower has brought important questions into the national debate, and we remain committed to helping ensure that these questions lead to better places in the future.
Further investigation will assess what led to this tragedy, but we now have enough information to know that design decisions and the choice of materials used, escalated the scale and the impact of the tragedy. The fact that residents of Grenfell Tower had raised concerns about safety in their building and that these had not been suitably addressed, must surely also raise questions and inform shifts in both culture and practice around place management in the future.
It is imperative that we ask how many other people are currently living in homes that simply do not meet acceptable safety standards. We must ask this not to point fingers, but to quickly find solutions. In basic humanitarian terms, we all have the right to live, work and play in places that are safe, welcoming and that bring us both opportunity and pleasure.
Let’s work together to do this. We all share a responsibility to raise concerns, to identify opportunities for improvements and to work together to make our places, all of them, places that nurture people. To do this, we must all be given the agency to contribute to making our places great. We must value both technical and local, experiential expertise and constantly seek new ways to unlock and mobilise our collective assets for the good of all of us.
Sadly, we cannot change what has happened at Grenfell Tower, but we can work together to ensure that such a needless tragedy leads to better quality places for all of us.