Monday, July 29, 2013

Heygate Estate

There's a slightly curious article in the LRB about the Heygate Estate in Southwark reporting the local opposition to the private redevelopment of the place. Two short extracts sum up much of this opposition:
It was asked why the scheme would be an improvement on what’s already there. ‘It’s better because it’s an improvement,’ came the non-answer...
Catherine Croft, the director of the Twentieth Century Society, spoke at the hearing on behalf of the Better Elephant group, which is campaigning for a regeneration scheme that actually benefits local people. ‘In decades to come,’ she said, ‘we will be astounded how structurally sound buildings were cavalierly demolished.’
What is this structurally sound, unimprovable architectural jewel, the loss of which Fatema Ahmed so mourns? Well, this:

OK, so it's past its prime now (though marvel at the structural soundness that only pre-cast concrete panels provide!). It must once have been a thing of beauty?


There was a much better piece (in that it at least looks at both sides of the argument over the demolition of the 1960s monstrosities, rather than simply assume that private developers = bad, and leave it at that) in the Guardian a couple of years ago, which noted that the opposition to demolition and revelopment tends to come from architects. But here's this thing. This is Robin Hood Gardens, described by Richard Rogers as "a great example of the best postwar architecture [which] deserves to be kept for future generations."

And this is a stucco-fronted townhouse, like the two that Richard Rogers actually lives in himself.

There's something of a money/mouth interface problem here - people who would never live somewhere like that are awfully keen that people they will never meet should continue doing so.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a slightly daft conclusion cosidering you open with evidence that plenty of local residents were in fact very keen on the housing they had.

1:46 pm  
Blogger Tim J said...

There are about 20 residents left at Heygate. Declining residential numbers were one of the factors behind the decision to redevelop in the first place.

At Robin Hood Gardens, the residents are overwhelmingly recent immigrants without the opportunity to move.

10:53 am  

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