Tuesday, 21 October 2014


As you already know, I am a huge fan of Brutalist architecture. An acquired taste? Maybe. I find lots of people perplexed by my love for tower blocks. Maybe it is what they represent, or what they remind people of?
I remember as a child, people gathering around in Newcastle to watch demolition of the "god awful eye sores." They reminded people of terrible living conditions, damp walls, walking up thousands of flights of stairs, as the lifts were never working, not to mention the gangs that would congregate around them like a moat, resulting in people terrified to leave or to enter.
But let's get back to basics, and look at the actual structures. Often, they are, in themselves a work of art. Could it just be the habitants that occupy them resulting in a fear and hatred by association, rather than a dislike for the building itself?
The first tower block was built in 1951, in Essex- "The Lawn." It is now a listed building. They were cheap to build and a quick fix for everyone's problems, as well as replacing bombed out buildings from the war. The improved views, and large open spaces, as well as bigger rooms were met with excitement and positivity. However, as the buildings themselves started to deteriorate, their reputation became notorious for crime and undesirables.
I used to drive past the Heygate estate, in Elephant and Castle, perhaps one of the most "feared" estates in South London, and to me it was as beautiful as any derelict mansion block. It was however, petrifying. Built in the 1970's, it was demolished earlier this year. There was a pang of sadness in me, that felt for the building. I can't help but wonder, if it had a different past, different residents, and if its story could have been a different one. We only have to look at The Barbican and the Trellick tower, The National Theater, and the Balfron Tower, to see that these buildings can be cared for, appreciated and admired. Yet, seldomly, would we hear "Oh wow, look at the Heygate buildings... How incredible..." But if you look closer, they actually are. Well, in my opinion anyway! Or the WERE rather, they've now been pulled down as part of regenerating Elephant and Castle. A sorry, but probably neceessary loss. A crying shame.
Anyway, this is the Charecroft Estate, in Shepherd's Bush, snapped on a sunny Sunday late afternoon, after my second weekend of yoga school.


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