You wouldn’t ever want a bad case of the cladding, the triumph of the expedient over the purist aesthetic. We all may wish to be warm, dry and free from unwanted ingress, whilst exercising a degree of discernment and restraint, regarding the manner in which we are clad.
In Wakefield and in local authorities throughout this fair land there seems to have been a distinct lack of discernment and restraint, regarding the manner in which modern tower blocks are clad.
Cloaking concrete in coloured surfaces better suited to Toytown than our town.
Four twelve-storey H-plan tower blocks built as public housing as part of the central area development of lower Kirkgate. The blocks rise out of other low-rise development. Each block contains 44 one and two-bedroom flats, providing 176 dwellings in total. The consulting architects for the development were Richard Seifert & Partners. Construction is of concrete frame with brick infill panels. The blocks were approved by committee in 1964.
Tudor House aka Lower Kirkgate Comprehensive Development area as was:
The Lansbury Estate, to the north of East India Dock Road, is the most important, largest and best-known council estate in Poplar. It demonstrates the different trends in post-war council house design and layout. The interest of the estate lies as much, if not more, in the story of its planning and construction, as in what was actually built. This is especially true of its first phase, which formed the basis of the Live Architecture Exhibition in the 1951 Festival of Britain.
Originally outlined in the 1943 plan for London, replacing the bomb damaged homes of displaced dockers, the estate has weathered well enough, though changes in demographics, the ever greater engulfing tide of gentrification and the containerisation of all ports, brings a fresh set of challenges and changes.
Go east – I visited the V&A Micro Museum, which has become a focus for residents’ and visitors’ memories and projections of a certain uncertain past and future. Arriving by the Docklands Light Railway, I was immediately drawn towards my destination, by the prominent Lansbury Tower, its clock patiently ticking away the time to and from 1951. Welcomed by staff and fellow travellers at the Chrisp Street Market site we began our tour at the heart of the Festival area – further details of which can be found here at Municipal Dreams.
A mix of market, shops, Festival pub, warm cream London brick terraces and low rise, later tower blocks, schools, churches and open grassed communal areas. On a cold and getting colder late winter’s day, a smattering of residents went purposefully about their business.
I’ve passed this way before, they’re hard to miss, seven substantial tower blocks towering over the town on College Bank.
But what goes up, may come down.
Construction in 1963
Demolition in 2017 is one suggestion – following years of poor maintenance, problems of heating and ingress, plus a whole host of other reasons outlined here.
The housing trust in consultation with residents, have produced a tentative plan.
This may or may not include the demolition of one or more blocks. On the day of my visit, the tenants I spoke with understood that the blocks faced an uncertain future, and were rightly concerned by the rumours and conjecture. The majority would prefer to stay put, having lived there for several years, raising families and building homes.
Whatever the outcome I hope that the wishes of the residents are not overwhelmed by political expedience, or the will of the developer.
The Balfron Tower Conservation Area was designated in October 1998 around the two residential blocks designed by Ernö Goldfinger for the London County Council in the 1960s. The Conservation Area boundary protects the listed Balfron Tower and Carradale House, and other buildings in the ‘Brownfield Estate’, including Glenkerry House, a community centre, shops and associated low-rise housing development.
The 27-storey Balfron Tower is Goldfinger’s first public housing project, and a precursor to his better known Trellick Tower in North Kensington. The neighbouring Carradale House and Glenkerry House sit within the landscaped areas developed at the same time. The Brownfield Estate, also known as the East India Estate, is now recognised as a fine example of planned 1960s social housing. Considered to be exemplary examples of the post-war housing schemes, Balfron Tower and Carradale House were listed in 1998 for their cultural & architectural merit.
This was my first visit, to a key building in the short history of modernist post war housing, currently something of a sleeping giant, awaiting Prince Charming’s kiss.
What will it awake to?
Tower Hamlets are mid consultation, as evidenced in this here document.
On an overcast and ever darkening afternoon, the rain cutting in on a chill wind, set against a slate grey sky, its surfaces and volumes were ever so slightly forlorn.
There is much to be done by way of regeneration, with the attendant issues of heritage, funding, gentrification and inevitably who lives where and why?
Arriving in Rochdale in search of something else entirely, it was impossible to ignore seven prominent, as yet unclad tower blocks, high upon a hill. I was informed by a local resident that they were known locally as the Seven Sisters, though variously identified as Falinge B, College Bank, and Holland Street flats.
The area was formerly home to Victorian workers’ dwellings, known as The Paddock – the post-war policy of slum clearance saw them swept away, in readiness for municipal modernity.
Hey presto 1963 and there appears four 21 storey blocks containing 476 dwellings; three 17 storey blocks containing 286 dwellings.
Photograph Mancunian 101
Building contractors were Wimpey and the flats were designed by Rochdale ’s Borough Surveyor, Mr W H G Mercer and Mr E V Collins who worked with George Wimpey and Company’s chief architect D. Broadbent.
Slap dab in the middle of the town stands a lone tower block of residential, social housing.
Buxton House backs onto the lower rise Civic Centre and is conjoined to the main shopping street and precinct, linked by a low wide underpass. Adorned on its street entrance by the most enchanting mosaic, announcing a spry geometric optimism to those shoppers and residents that pass under, through the underpass.
Ten floors of homes are bound in brick concrete and glass – a truly commanding central location, graced by the inclusion of an incongruous Chinese restaurant – The Mandarin.
The former Richmond flats in Huddersfield have been revamped and are now known as Harold Wilson Court.
The two other blocks sadly have neither been revamped nor renamed after famed local politicos.
Herbert Asquith or Luddite House – take your pick.
They stand by the road unloved and forlorn, tinned up awaiting demolition. Once home to hundreds, the former residents have now been paid out, moved out and hopefully rehoused.
Richmond flats were named after Sidney Richmond, the former Huddersfield Borough Council architect, and were the second of the three blocks currently on the site. The first block opposite was Lonsbrough Flats, named after Anita Lonsbrough, 1960 Olympic Gold medal swimmer and council employee, with the third being the middle block Ibbotson Flats, named after Derek Ibbotson, the Huddersfield athlete who held the world record for running a mile.
The site was obviously more valuable than viable town centre homes – Tesco is a coming
Go see them, say hello and wave goodbye – they’ll soon be gone.