Avishkar Chhetri was born in Pokhara Nepal and grew up in South Acton estate in the late 1990s to the 2000s. He graduated with highest honours from Kingston College School Of Art & Design in Digital Arts specialising in Animation, Digital Illustration and Concept Design. Now he is undertaking an MA in Animation from the Royal College of Art. His passion lays in autoethnography, anthropology, political commentary, documentary and animation.
Non-Viable Living is an investigation review of several months of research into the Acton Gardens’ regeneration scheme on the existing South Acton estate. The lead director, animator, and filmmaker Avishkar Chhetri grew up in South Acton estate at the start of the intervention of the estate’s dilapidation.
The title; Non-Viable Living derives from the developer and housing provider’s overcasting terminology on impoverished classes’ development viability, i.e. the pragmatics of sustaining lower economic groups within housing estates such as in South Acton, Ealing. However this is not the issue, housing providers like local authorities’ councils are pragmatic in all regards. The current central government’s welfare reforms have created a sentimentality of “non-viability”; the futility of social housing reprovision. Council estates like South Acton are non-viable because they have been forced into being non-viable.
Another term for viability is living, therefore non-livable can be seen as the condemnation of tower blocks as unfit for living, due to the Decent Home Standard set by the New Labour government in the noughties and as a consequence regeneration officers and local community councillors have claimed that tower blocks from the mid-twentieth century have met their natural end – this blanket view of tower blocks disregards the possibility of sustaining mid-rise blocks or even some high-rise blocks as being repaired or refurbished using anthropomorphised language to provide a linkage to death and tower-blocks.
Unfortunately, the ugliness of tower blocks is a major factor for the redevelopment of social housing estates. The philosophical viewpoint I have undertaken is that housing should be based on necessity and a social-led initiative, the counterpoint of housing developers and architects, who utilise dilapidated blocks for regeneration projects. My ideas harks back to the post-World War II view on housing provision, i.e. for providing shelter for the masses rather than to capitalise on “brown-fields”/dilapidated estates.