Friday, 15 November 2013

Nice Place to Visit.. But You Wouldn't Want to Live There

One is tempted to laugh, but then again crying might be the better response looking at the rather superior Islington-dinner-party view of housing estates in the Guardian newspaper's survey of the "10 best council housing estates":

Before one dismisses out of hand this exercise in highfalutin architectural patronising of the residents of what are mainly high-rise slums one should think of the reality of these "gems". 

When some pensioner was mugged in the stairwell of the Park Hill estate in Sheffield did she get a frisson of relief in that she is at least getting mugged in an architecturally significant slum. Likewise did Erno Goldfinger's light touch with concrete provide inspiration for generations of inner suburbanite youths. 

As for Davy Place at Loddon in Norfolk, the only thought that comes to mind is "where is my bulldozer when I need it". How one can swoon over a particularly mediocre English take on the American "ranch" home, specially adapted by being crunched together in a series of alleyways crossed with an allotment, is beyond me. When compared to Poundbury (below), it's no contest. 

While some of these buildings may have moved on to better things, being hipster magnets now, the smaller (lesser?) examples of these "Cool Britannia" buildings still provide daily misery for their occupants and are arguably worse than some of the Victorian slums they replaced, if for nothing else than their deficient community relationships compared to the dim alleyways and smoky by-ways of the inner cities pre-WW2 where at least the residents' were mainly at eye-level.

Before dismissing this as a rant against 1950's architecture I would note that I am highlighting this because the very people that write such articles and revel in such structures still represent the oligarchy of planning in this country and given their druthers would have all the rest of living in such things.. while they are firmly ensconced in their Georgian rehabs in inner northern London. 

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