Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Heating Standards and Obsolescence in Post-War Britain’s Homes for Today and Tomorrow

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Abstract:  In 1962, a short film by Shell-Mex and BP Limited (Companies of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group and the British Petroleum Group) was prepared for the 29th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the National Society of Clean Air in Britain to encourage British households to shift from coal domestic fires to smokeless heating appliances. One year earlier, in 1961, the most influential report on space standards in Britain was published, titled Homes for Today and Tomorrow (also known as the Parker Morris Report), which advocated for flexibility in the home through larger size homes and better heating. This article focuses on the report’s emphasis on better heating as one way to fulfil the concept of the “adaptable home,” and it introduces the discussions about heating standards during the report’s making, underlining the open domestic fire as an obsolete technology. These discussions, however, were entangled with socio-cultural endeavours and consumerist aspirations for modernisation, placing the removal of an otherwise pervasive domestic element within a broader net of forces, actors, and dilemmas involved in decision-making and planning. This article, composed as a historical acquisition, oscillates from the scale of the domestic fireplace to the housing scale, raising the issue of obsolescence in housing provision, which is still salient today.

Keywords:  adaptable home; air pollution; council housing; domestic waste; heating standards; Homes for Today and Tomorrow; Parker Morris Report



© Savia Palate. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.