Trellick Tower (pt3/3)

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 🙂 )

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Standing 322ft high, 31 floors and housing 217 apartments, these homes are accessed via ‘streets in the sky’ connected to a service tower with lifts……… a quite beautiful building!
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………… and the iconic phrase “Streets in the Sky” was born!
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Trellick’s 217 apartment balconies face South enjoying a full days sunlight, their front doors opening towards North facing corridors. These design details, alongside quality materials, set this iconic building apart from tower blocks long since reduced to stone and rubble.
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Admire Trellick’s impressive and imposing service tower and just marvel at those ‘battlement window slits’ and castle-like watchtower.
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Two ridiculously simple security measures (originally requested by Goldfinger himself) transformed Trellick Tower’s then tarnished reputation. Once a concierge and entry intercom had been installed, the problems of vandalism, lift rapes and prostitution all but stopped, and don’t you agree a concierge makes so much sense in hindsight? He or she would be the eyes and ears on the ground, a go to for people’s problems, bar entry to people who shouldn’t even be inside! All the reasons Hotels have employed them for centuries.

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. 

pre-fabricated-high-rise-blocks-flats-uk.v1476952239And 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

Trellick Tower, I’d love to live there!

Theme for this week is Trellick Tower, Notting Hill west London.

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‘Trellick Tower’ is a concrete example of 70’s social housing (though several are privately owned), whether you purchase or rent an apartment you’ll then own 2 balconies, one leading from a bedroom and one other from the living room. (Photograph by me)

Brutalism, def: ‘a stark style of functionalist architecture, especially of the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by the use of steel and concrete in massive blocks’

….……… and by any stretch of the imagination Trellick Tower’s an exercise in Brutalism with a capital B!

I’ve been sightseeing in London again, though this time with a sole intention of seeing for myself Trellick Tower also for my first time, an image I’d seen in many a film, documentary and magazine photo yet had never witnessed in the flesh so to speak……………. viewing something you’ve so wished to see, but only ever seen previously via media is an emotionless second hand experience, only when you see a Cityscape (artwork) with your own two eyes do you know if it lives up to ALL the hype.

(I’d go further, add Trellick to your list of buildings to see if you ever visit Britain’s capital city and you’ll not be disappointed.)

Walking through the Notting Hill’s side streets, my eyes attuned towards the skies hoping for a first glance was an interesting experience, think for a second, how often in life are you consumed by an eager anticipation over an extended period of time? Hardly ever! You’re aware of a soon to be emotional experience, your imagination will be pricked alive yet you don’t know how you’ll react, BUT you know the reaction will be either excitement, incredulity, amazement, maybe a ‘what the fuck whatever’, or a total letdown disappointed…………. but not to worry my initial reaction as Trellick Tower loomed in to view, dominating the skyline above £2,000,000 homes was:

‘Wow, what a beautiful building………. yes I’m SO pleased I came to see!’

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Trellick’s slimline silhouette in ‘side on profile’ is one reason the building works for me and I know sweet @%£* all about architecture! (Photo by me)

Trellick Tower bewitches me, fascinates me, I’m in love with this building so much so I’d do anything to live within one of those top floor self contained apartments for just one week…………. goes without saying because the views across London (I’ve never visited mind you) must be absolutely stunning.

Designed by the architect Ernö Goldfinger in the late 1960s, Trellick Tower is one of London’s most iconic Modernistic apartment blocks, deemed architectural important, and yes his name inspired Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger of James Bond fame (Fleming hated Goldfinger with a passion.)

These concrete monolithic tower blocks were the answer to Britain’s postwar housing shortage, brutalist architecture of the 1970’s now has a notorious reputation, more often than not they were poorly constructed by cash strapped City Councils, with the worst examples populating British cities up and down the land having long since been demolished, and I’d guess both former residents and neighbours living beneath those monstrosities whooped cheered and clapped as they watched them reduced to rubble.

However today 50 years later Brutalism is being re evaluated, the most hideous examples are no more and destruction wasn’t to be Trellick’s final fate, remaining as a beautifully proportioned profile and I particually love the balconies looking across London, lucky residents although they do look extremely dangerous! Trellick Tower is preserved for the nation and according to a recent BBC documentary loved by the residents who live there, one glorious example remains to this day and to be quite honest I’m unsure why I appreciate this building so, an instantly recognisable icon joining an illustrious ‘grade listed’ club alongside notable examples such as The Tower Of London, Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle……………… and I might add a worthy of inclusion.

I’ll finish this evening’s post sharing (borrowed) photographs taken from inside but alas not by me, and WE all love looking inside people’s homes don’t we?

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The phrase ‘location, location, location’ comes to mind
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View looking out from on high! (To the left and just out of shot is Grenfell Tower and I’d guess this photo was take before that awful tragedy which killed so many 😦 )
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The main walkway dividing residents front doors and the outside
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View from the balcony

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Master bedroom
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Functional bathroom to say the least
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One bedroom leads out onto it’s own balcony
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Lobby with lifts entombed inside the adjoing Tower
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Stairs if you prefer to walk, or more seriously used as a fire escape
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Dominating the West London skyline for miles around, but I’d suggest there’d be a public outcry if Trellick was marked for demolition?
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Living room leading out on a balcony and what a view!
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Dining area with balcony to the left, imagine eating coffee and croissants in the morning……….. ok yes I’m a romantic at heart.

To be continued………………….

A. Shepherdson 2019

Trellick Tower, London 09/11/2019

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Picture by A. Shepherdson

Hi 🙂

Now be honest, you’re all busy people, do you really want to read a blah blah blah blog where I list the reasons I stopped posting? No of course not, just so as you know I’ve reignited enthusiasm, there’ll be no sex and silliness (that’s a lie) and I’ll be returning with several London themed ‘photo dumps’ (that’s a term the cool kids use), in other words that’s sharing photos I’ve taken to you and I.

Been a while, so what have I been doing? Worrying about Brexit for one (sooo upsettingly depressing), reading blogs written by the (many) middle aged women writers I follow, and for the purposes of today’s post and several to follow, I visited London today, walked the City’s streets (note I’m not a hooker!) and ‘snapped’ lots and lots of photographs.

Only trouble is I’m unsure if any of you lovely people remember me since three months ago, of course you lol don’t? But not to worry as I’ve always said to myself, if at least one person enjoys reading an always original post written by moi, then I’m a happy Andrew.

So why visit London? To see for myself a British architectural icon that is Trellick Tower situated close to the Borough of Notting Hill, and yes that is the ‘Notting Hill’ movie of the same name starring Hugh and Rene, also home to the world famous Carnival. Incidentally the short video below features this 1972 Tower Block built to satisfy Britain’s post war housing shortage, Trellick is now a Grade 2 listed building, a structure recognised by people the length and breadth of Britain with a very short film uploaded onto my YouTube Channel.

(Are you surprised a concrete block of flats has preserved status?)

I’ve never seen this Tower Block for myself before today, it’s an impressive building all the more notable because every major City has been demolishing these grey concrete monoliths, poorly constructed, hated by the residents and quite rightly considered a disastrous exercise to provide cheap social housing for the masses, many have been pulverised to rubble. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing, Tower Blocks became synonymous with all that is wrong with inner cities, magnets for drug taking, physical assaults, isolation, deprivation, poverty, devoid of human scale and with a complete absence of (yes) private gardens so loved by the British public, all in all an expensive social engineering project that went disastrously wrong!

HOWEVER with London’s housing shortage now at epidemic levels, gazing out the coach window as the city scape passed by, I noticed shiny modern examples are rising lol like a phoenix from the ashes, with I guess many a lesson learnt?……… I do hope so! Yes Tower blocks are disappearing, yet Trellick remains and what’s more it’s Grade 2 listed which means the City planners CANNOT pull it down. Now for a confusing dichotomy, I for one love this important building which surprises me when I hate concrete Blocks of Flats so! 😀 

So finally, do you see beauty in this building?

To be continued………………

A. Shepherdson 2019