The Truth about Grenfell Tower: A report by Architects for Social Housing




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Technical Report

Peer reviewed



On Thursday, 22 June, 2017, in response to the Grenfell Tower fire the previous week, Architects for Social Housing held an open meeting in the Residents Centre of Cotton Gardens estate in Lambeth. Around 80 people turned up and contributed to the discussion – residents, housing campaigners, journalists, lawyers, academics, engineers and architects. Attached is an edited film of the meeting made for us by Line Nikita Woolfe, with the assistance of Luc Beloix on camera and additional footage by Dan Davies, and is produced by her company Woolfe Vision. The presentations we gave that evening are the basis of this report, to which we have added our subsequent research as well as that collated from the numerous articles on the Grenfell Tower fire published in the press and elsewhere, to which we have attached the weblinks, with the original documents included whenever they are available.

As any resident who has been consulted by their local council on the ‘regeneration’ of their estate knows, their responses to seemingly innocuous questions are similarly used to justify the demolition of their homes. As an example of which, one of the questions put to residents of Central Hill estate by Lambeth council at the beginning of their consultation was ‘would you like a new kitchen?’ Two-and-a-half-years later the same council used the answers to these consultations to justify the demolition of the entire estate. In the same way, opinions about living in council tower blocks voiced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire are not made in a political vacuum. It is entirely understandable that a resident pulled from the hell of the Grenfell Tower fire and shoved in front of a camera crew should call for the demolition of similar tower blocks; it is something very different for a journalist who has never lived on an estate to do the same in a national paper, as it is for a politician who has promoted London’s programme of estate demolition to describe tower blocks as ‘criminally unsafe’ on a news programme watched by millions. This report makes no claim to be the truth about the Grenfell Tower fire, but it is a contribution to the attempt to find it, which also means exposing and refuting the lies being spread about its causes. In trying to find that truth, we should be aware of the difference between voicing our personal opinions and formulating conclusions based on what we know.

We wanted to use this meeting (film encl.) and report, therefore, to counter the misperceptions and misinformation being propagated in the media, not only about the Grenfell Tower fire but about the council estate it belongs to, and to begin to organise opposition to the use of this disaster and the lives it has claimed to further promote the already widespread programme of estate regeneration that threatens the homes of hundreds of thousands of Londoners. In order to cover these issues in what turned out to be two-and-a-half hours, the meeting was divided into four sections, each with a clear objective: 1) to share what we know collectively about the technical causes of the Grenfell Tower fire; 2) to expose the management structures and political decisions that allowed these technical conditions to be in place; 3) to advise residents of council tower blocks on the safety or otherwise of their homes, and what changes need to happen in order to stop such a disaster ever happening again; and 4) to organise opposition to the use of the Grenfell Tower fire to promote London’s programme of estate demolition. In writing up our presentations, however, we have expanded this report into six parts:

  1. Technical Causes of the Grenfell Tower Fire

Grenfell Tower Building Regulations Grenfell Tower Cladding

  1. Management Decisions responsible for the Grenfell Tower Fire

Grenfell Tower Management Grenfell Tower Refurbishment Grenfell Tower Responsibilities

  1. Political Context for the Grenfell Tower Fire

Grenfell Tower Regeneration Grenfell Tower Appearance Grenfell Tower Profits

  1. The Fire Safety of Council Tower Blocks

Grenfell Tower Precedents Grenfell Tower Warnings Grenfell Tower Residents Grenfell Tower Deregulation

  1. The Programme of Estate Regeneration

Grenfell Tower Opportunism Grenfell Tower Politics Grenfell Tower Community

  1. Accountability for the Grenfell Tower Fire

Grenfell Tower Inquiry Grenfell Tower Inquest Grenfell Tower Legacy



Grenfell, Architects for Social Housing (ASH), Estate Regeneration


Dening, G. and Elmer, S. (2017) The Truth about Grenfell Tower: A report by Architects for Social Housing.


Research Institute

Institute of Architecture