The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Park Hill in the Saturday Telegraph Magazine

Good to see that Saturday Telegraph readers have been treated to a pretty sensible and well balanced article on the make-over of one of our favourite post-war estates.  The sophistication and length of the article in the Magazine section of the paper on Saturday 22nd September (sorry it’s taken me a while to blog about this) is a good indication of how the issues we campaign on are becoming increasingly mainstream, and a far cry from the knee jerk “concrete monstrosity—knock it down” attitude we might have seen a few years back.

True the headline calls the estate “notorious” and notes that it has been “ condemned by many as a Brutalist eyesore”  (when the Telegraph refers to a “Brutalist Masterpiece we’ll know we are really winning!), but  Edward Platt ‘s article is well worth reading, and not just because he quotes me.  (!)

I am really pleased that he says “Catherine Croft says that the refit has moved beyond the bounds of conservation and become an act of ‘reinvention’. She concedes that it would have been impossible to raise funding for a scheme that ‘did not radically change the appearance and image of the flats’, but she dismisses the implicit presumption that Park Hill’s concrete frame was the only element worth preserving: she regrets the loss of the brick infills in the facade and the way the interior of the flats have been stripped out. Even the decision to expose the concrete walls in the interior of the flats does not meet with her approval – Latham had presented the styling as a way of exposing the building’s underlying identity, but Croft points out that they were not part of the original design, and says that the attempt to create a ‘raw aesthetic that never penetrated the homes of the original tenants’ reveals a ‘strange mix of attitudes to the real versus the image’.—that’s all accurate.

I’m slightly curious what he’s getting at when he quotes me as saying that” local authorities’ inability to raise money for major refurbishments is leading to ‘the destruction of established communities’”-I think what I was on about there is that lack of funding for modest repairs and on-going maintenance (i.e. the fact that only very major schemes get funding) is a problem.

You can read the whole article here:

NB our image is of Park Hill cufflinks “made of the purest white earthenware clay which is strong yet very light.”, by advertising exec-turned ceramist Allison Wiffen  one way and another I thought we’d already brought you enough photos of Park Hill itself—both before and after (I note that these are definitely the before version of the façade)


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