5 thoughts on “HIGH-RISE

  1. Jonathan

    There is a lot of emotion tied up in the this. However in looking at the unit plans they are not great, and in some ways down right poor, and some the basis behind tenant concern re “liveability” is probably justified.
    Undersize and awkward bedrooms, lack of storage. Even for 1960. The extent of pure, narrow internal circulation. Not sure that the efficiency would pass with the 1920’s Russians.
    As an architectural icon only, I am not sure that the retention is justified, how would you actually use the building? Buildings need to be used and used well, comfortably……….
    The Sirius planning is much more satisfactory and would appear to produce comfortable flats. they well be lacking some of the things that are no main stream, but the sizing of rooms is more generous and is orderly arranged.
    The tenants have been long forced out.

    It does give rise to the question about where the less privileged live and work. The work locations are not really changing, it just that the workers are being pushed further afield.

    There are 38 state housing “affordable” units in:

  2. ggkotsiopoulou

    First – full disclosure – I hadn’t even heard of the film until I read your blog. Now I’ll try to catch it!

    You made me think about lifts in buildings, and the ‘superior classes’ living higher up. True also with office space. Surely it is because, and only because, of lifts that this can prevail? If there were no easy way to reach the top floors, then those would fast become the province of the less privileged, left to the physical labour of climbing stairs and carrying their belongings, while the lower levels would become much more desirable. With, of course, the caveat of being more vulnerable to invasion.

    Hmm. That dichotomy could make a fun film.

    1. Graham McKay

      Richard Plunz’s “A History of Housing in New York City” tells me that it was in the 1920s that the upper floors suddenly became more desirable. Elevators had been around since 1870 but only in super luxury developments because the machinery was expensive and because elevator operators were required by law. In the 1920s cheaper AC machinery came into use and “automatic” elevators were now permitted. This is when the class-swap occurred, presumably because it was discovered people would pay more for better light, air and views.

  3. Jonathan

    the Foundation review is not worth reading. but thanks for the link and having me read it.
    cannot help pondering the reaction had the buildings been clad with brickwork, stone and/or glass curtain walls?
    it is also a further alienation of the terminology and meaning behind bruté as expressed a century ago, sort of the like the notion behind “the right to bear arms” in a manifesto written during a civil war

    1. Graham McKay

      This Brutalism bashing may be endemic but the arguments against keep morphing. Here’s one that’s better than most because it does focus on how the buildings actually work, even if its eventual conclusion is to (a) rehouse the people on land less expensive (i.e. buy low), (b) rebuild (c) sell high. (The same arguments could be used against The Barbican which is Grade II listed.)

      Architects, I fear, especially the high-profile ones who add their names to lists calling for the retention of Brutalist buildings for their historic importance, continue to get it wrong when calling for the retention of Brutalist architecture [if indeed, they were sincere in the first place, as the article implies]. Calling for the retention of a Brutalist building on the grounds of style is to ignore their original social aspirations which, in my view, are of more value to society than the actual building fabric that only ever represented that aspiration anyway. It’s odd that architecture’s ability to represent a caring society is what seen as the real evil. The same thing is happening in NSW with the Sirius Building which, unfortunately, stands on prime property. The building (commonly referred to as Brutalist because of its unpainted concrete) is full of social tenants and, as I understand it, the government’s plan is to get rid of the tenants, make a killing by selling the land to private developers, and use the profits to build more social housing in some spot less visible. The argument seems to be “you have to lose some social housing to get more social housing”. It’s blackmail, basically. Visible social housing continues to represent social tenants as a part of society and, at the same time, society’s obligations its vulnerable. It’s these things we’re being asked to forget about. Again, there’s a big list signed by many architects who are actually playing into the governments hands of making the argument into one solely about aesthetics.

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