So let’s just say I win the lottery, gifted the riches to purchase the home of my wildest dreams and desires, which home do I choose? A quaint pretty cottage set within deepest rural Oxfordshire, a perfumed wild flower meadow with babbling brook streaming through long natural grasses, lazy days of watching butterflies and keeping bees or purchase a top floor duplex apartment in London’s Trellick Tower?
Hmm, I’m genuinely in a quandary deciding which to choose.
For fear of repeating myself you really should read my previous two posts if ‘this’ phrase Trellick Tower intrigues you.
(Five minutes later)
So you have returned, thank you 🙂 (oh and please note all photos taken by myself and feel free to copy if you so wish 🙂 )
So returning to my question which home do I choose? Well, as of this moment and similar to many a rich Londoner in 2019 I’ll purchase both, the idyllic country cottage for the weekend and Trellick Tower for living in Monday to Fridays……. though I have the feeling the shine and novelty would sooon wear off!
But Trellick’s renaissance isn’t a totally happy tale. Originally designed by Ernö Goldfinger as cheap social housing back in 1972, now that ‘brutalism’ has returned to being fashionable and in vogue, a sickening process of ‘social cleansing’ is taking place across London. Private equity firms are purchasing these concrete high rise living spaces from cash strapped London Councils, decanting poor renting families into cheap low level housing, then selling these Tower block apartments for millions of pounds! And here’s the irony, these until recently hated concrete homes in the sky built for the poor, are once again deemed cool living yet only affordable to the rich and wealthy.
And now to Ronan Point where the high rise dream came quite literally crashing down!
The now demolished Ronan Point, a 22 story tower block built as affordable housing, opened in 1968 but tragically partially collapsed soon after unveiling to residents and public. Poorly designed and shoddily constructed Ronan is the complete antithesis of Trellick built but a few miles away in Canning Town East London. On that fateful day 16th May 1968, only two months after Ronan’s completion, a gas explosion caused the collapse of one entire corner of the building (a resident lit a gas stove to boil a kettle), killing four people and injuring 17 this terrible disaster rocked people’s confidence in the safety of high rise living. A judicial enquiry soon followed leading to an overhaul of existing building regulations after uncovering design flaws associated with side wind loading, fire damage and small explosions..
Looking at the photo above I’d suggest the scars of bolted together walls also off-site prefabricated construction are clearly visible, a truly horrific photograph in so many respects leaving Britain’s housing dream in tatters, the consequence all Public confidence was lost in high rise living and has never returned even 50 years or so later……….. such an ugly building as well.
So what fate awaits Trellick Tower? Now Grade 2 listed and deemed architecturally important by the great and the good, this once reviled building is fashionable again, now privately owned and having been made from quality materials I’d suggest this iconic building will outlive me! And truthfully speaking I’m still unsure why I love this building so? All the more strange knowing that I hate concrete tower blocks with a passion.
I hope readers have enjoyed these three posts written from a personal point of view, if you wish a little more insight and detail then I guess the internet is the place to go!
A. Shepherdson 2019