As I commute to and from London daily, I often wonder about the varying architecture that can be seen throughout the capital. Many buildings and architectural styles that have survived generations and, of course, the Blitz and other ravages of WW2.
I much prefer the older style of architecture where the designers took great pride in so many brick-built features that are now sadly lost in the glass-clad boxes that are built these days.
However, one move that has struck me is what became known as "Brutalist Architecture" that really came to the fore during the 60's. Some of these buildings, which can't be classed as attractive, have now gained iconic status.
Looking at Centre Point Tower for example, designed by architect George Marsh and opened in 1963, the building had a checkered history with squatters before becoming properly occupied as offices.
Balfron Tower is another example, designed by architect Ernő Goldfinger and opened in 1967, it is said that he lived in the tower to experience the pros and cons and took the lessons he'd learnt when later designing Trellick Tower that opened in 1972 - having the lift stop at every floor instead of every third floor could have been a major improvement.
It makes me wonder how many similar buildings of this nature there are around the country and what peoples' opinions are of them?
I'm going to say this once and once only Gene: Stay out of Camberwick Green!
I know some of this architecture isn’t well loved/have mass appeal but I have a bit of a quite a soft spot for it. London and Brisbane’s South Bank complexes, Trellick Tower, the Barbican and Park Hill in Sheffield are all examples of brutalism I quite like and a big shame the Get Carter car park in Gateshead succumbed to recent redevelopment – especially as I feel it could’ve been worked into something similar to The Sage and Baltic there.
I don’t think the bland glass style buildings which have sprung up since the 90’s will last or be as appreciated as these brutalist ones in 20-30 years time.
I visited this car park and had a photo taken with it in the background, then returned a year later and did the same with it gone! my Geordie mate visited the site during demolition and blagged some pieces from the site guys - I have a piece of history - and it's a piece with the outer smooth face. I'm a big fan of Brutalist architecture - why do they insist on demolishing it left right and centre in favour of green-glazed monstrosities? Some of the European buildings are stunning. There are a coupe of surviving multi-storey car-parks and a theatre near me in Gravesend. They demolished one car-park, but fortunately the other is still standing.
I remember reading an article about Trellick Tower which was a late completion for a tower block. Some local authorities had already decided before 1972 that high rise council flats were not the brilliant idea for the future that they were first thought to be. It is said that in the 1980's and 1990's that Trellick Tower was a crime-ridden place which was almost a no go area for many with reports of frequent muggings and even rape occuring in the lifts etc. It has now been completely turned around with a concierge and safer parking areas with cameras etc and is actually considered by some to be a desirable place to live now with privately owned apartments changing hands for big money. It is also a listed building!
If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
Post by Charles Bronson on May 8, 2015 15:34:32 GMT
There are some horrible modern buildings, thats for sure. One of the ugliest I've ever seen is the Main Hospital in Liverpool. It looks like some kind of Nuclear Power Station. I remember a documentary on the box years ago in which an East End Jazz musician and Radio personality went back to the area where he was brought up, as he walked around looking at the mess that had been created. I remember him saying in his witty way how he would like to have some of the planners responsible assassinated. I'm sure a lot of people must have sympathised with his comments.
The estate's were a brilliant concept that ultimately failed. Look at how nice they were when they were completed, even Nelson Mandela House in Peckham
People who lived in old terrace housing that were pokey and didn't have a inside toilet and bathroom, and the thousands living in prefabs after second world war bomb damage were glad of their arrival. There were design problems for sure but i think you can lay at least 50% of the blame on their ultimate failure on the society that occupied them. Move lowlife anywhere and they will still be lowlife and cause problems. Building them new barretts type housing won't change the problems .
This transition from old housing to new modern estates crops up as subject matter in Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads. Another place you can see it is in the (I Think) Mutiny On The Buses film. I believe its Borehamwood they drive around, and you can see its a new modern town freshly built and it looks very nice however, all that concrete hasn't aged well and it looks very drab and dirty these days.
I'm not a massive fan of brutalist architecture but I think its right that some should be given listed status before its all redeveloped often by stuff that's no better or anymore in keeping with the surrounding area's.
I did some work on Balfron Tower (The Fore-runner to Trellick Tower) many years ago and it certainly is an imposing structure but as was said earlier about other estates it was plagued by crime.
A well documented mistake with brutalist architecture was the demolition of Euston Station in the 1960's including its imposing doric arch , to be replaced by today's ugly structure.
Its not all bad. I live on a 60's built estate of cul-de-sac's and for me the houses are good units for young families, as it was for mine making the transition from a flat. The alternative for the same money as my 3 bed EOT with garage in my area was a 2 bedroom pokey house with no hallway and an add on downstairs bathroom. I dont regret buying the 60's house It's served us well.
Stumbled across this on Youtube about the Hulme Crescents perhaps one of the most ambitious/spectacular failures of system built brutalist housing in the UK. One's a Granada (World in Action?) documentary from 1978 and a BBC Late Show doc from the mid 1990's when they demolished the then famous/infamous crescents. Enjoy
There are some horrible modern buildings, thats for sure. One of the ugliest I've ever seen is the Main Hospital in Liverpool. It looks like some kind of Nuclear Power Station. I remember a documentary on the box years ago in which an East End Jazz musician and Radio personality went back to the area where he was brought up, as he walked around looking at the mess that had been created. I remember him saying in his witty way how he would like to have some of the planners responsible assasinated. I'm sure a lot of people must have sympathised with his comments.
LOL! I actually don't know wheter to like or hate the Royal Hospital one. It will be going soon as the building was found to have concrete cancer so a new build will replace it in 2017... just hope it weathers better than the one opened 15 years late in 1978.
Post by Athene Noctua on Nov 22, 2015 20:30:59 GMT
I'm largely with you here, Sam Tyler; I think a lot of it has to be re-evaluated and appreciated. They key to success is the building must be loved and maintained and respected. All too often building from the 1960's and 70's were neglected and fell into disrepair 'concrete cancer' etc, casting a sense of urban decay and fear of crime.
Invested in and cared for, they can stand proud alongside earlier buildings. A lot of Croydon (near where I grew up) is like this; when they are unused, local authorities find them an embarrassing burden, but more into central London there is more investment to keep them looking good.
They represented a confident, aspirational age, which I think a lot of late 1980's buildings lacked (lazy pastiches). I'll make an exception for the Lloyds Building.
If you tap 'architecture' into the Iplayer, there's a really good thread of programmes (can't download them, you have to livestream them).