18 January 2020

Flats

The past week was not a good one for the taking of photographs. Of course I am very aware that it is possible to take great pictures under leaden skies or when winds are blowing and there are rain showers but I prefer to take my photo walks in sunshine. In that respect, the best day of the week was Wednesday but of course I was working at the Oxfam shop that day.  So it goes.
Yesterday afternoon I drove up to Park Hill just east of the city centre. It was here between 1958 and 1962 that the city council sponsored a huge social housing development known as Park Hill Flats. It was the biggest social housing project in western Europe and it gave slum dwellers a chance to enjoy modern comforts in their brand new concrete city in the sky.
Park Hill Flats is a listed collection of buildings that enjoys Grade II* status. It is the biggest listed "building" in Europe Back in the 1980's there had been a real chance that Park Hill Flats would be pulled down but the listed status gave the complex a fresh lease of life. In the last ten years there has been an ambitious and ongoing refurbishment project overseen by an organisation called Urban Splash.

The housing complex enjoys westward views over the city centre to the moors beyond.

27 comments:

  1. Four walls and a ceiling or roof above one's head are shelters from the storm...and life can so often, too often...be very stormy.

    Sadly, not everyone has that...

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    1. Even in rich countries there are thousands of people without basic homes. We all need safe places to live or as The Rolling Stones sang - Gimme Shelter!

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  2. Housing is in a bad situation here. Many cannot afford housing so we need some assisted housing.

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    1. Canada is a rich country. Everybody should have somewhere safe and sound to live.

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  3. It is a good thing to have available affordable housing to those that otherwise could not afford it. Basic housing has become so expensive these days that it is often out of reach for some and that is heartbreaking.

    I like your photos, especially the second one looking up the side of the building.

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    1. In wealthy countries like ours, everyone should be able to have somewhere safe, warm and dry to live. It doesn't need to be a castle.

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  4. The problem of the 1960s multi-storey housing was the construction methods used which resulted in (physical) condensation and (social) isolation. Liverpool and Glasgow two of the pioneering cities for multi-storey dwellings have demolished much of their 1960s stock already. I hope that the refurbishment is successful. The photos were worth the effort!

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    1. Apparently, the methods used to build Park Hill Flats were superior to the usual procedure. Another huge Sheffield complex I remember - Kelvin Flats - was demolished years ago.

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  5. I much prefer garden cities and dwellings that are surrounded by recreational gardens and allotments. Like you say everyone should have somewhere warm and dry to live.

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    1. I would never wish to live in a high-rise block. It would be hard to sleep at night.

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    2. Bob Marley's Concrete Jungle comes to mind.

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  6. A social housing project was built in the 1960s in the town where I grew up. Unfortunately it was built using the same construction methods as the infamous Ronan Point and had to be demolished some years later for safety reasons. It was brutally ugly in the first place so not many people were sorry to see it go.

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    1. Many Sheffielders would have preferred to see Park Hill Flats razed to the ground. Millions are being spent on the refurbishment. Those same millions could have been spent on building low rise social housing.

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  7. "I hear you're moving into a flat" I said to the old chap across the road when the For Sale sign appeared on his house. "Er ... an apartment" he corrected me.

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    1. Is the old chap an American? We have flats here. Maybe he has been watching too much American stuff on TV.

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  8. Good photos. I'm not sure if the British social housing is an exact equivalent of the kind of public housing we have here. But we do have similar buildings from around the 1960s as well. Where I live now (since 2008) is an older estate developed in the 1940s, with smaller 3-4 storey brick buildings, and rather generous outdoors areas. The flats/rooms are smaller but the buildings of better quality than the typical 1960s. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they won't try to "densify" this area (popular in city planning at the moment)

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    1. Here, if a human being is "dense", it means that they are lacking in brain power. In Yorkshire we say they are "thick"! To "densify" an area could mean reducing the IQ of the population!

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    2. YP - if taken too far, I do fear that may be the result! ;) (I checked online before writing my comment though, and did find the words densify and densification used referring to urban planning.)

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  9. Human warehouses. But I suppose it is shelter. How could one's soul not be crushed to live in that building?

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    1. I wouldn't wish to live in such a place.

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  10. I didn't realize that Edmonton and Sheffield were close to the same size. We don't have any social housing like Sheffield though. People on low income tend to be dispersed throughout the city which is a better idea I think. I know when I was young and was a single mum I would rather live in a house than an apartment. When my son was young we lived on the top floor of an old house while I went to school. The rent was $250/month which was a fortune to me then.

    I think most people would prefer to have easy access to a small garden.

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  11. I still find it hard to grasp the density of the population in your part of the world. But then I find it hard to grasp the same thing for parts of Canada. Growing up in a small village and now living in a small town with no experience of anything else makes looking at pictures like these like a trip to an alien planet.

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  12. When my sister and I last visited Sheffield some years ago, we learned about the blocks of flats and how they changed the lives of those who first moved in for the better, how the situation changed over the following decades and how it came to be a complex of listed buildings. I find it fascinating but would not want to live in there myself.

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  13. Good photos YP.
    I think what we tend to forget when we criticise social housing, and the sheer density in which people have to live, that Britain has an acute shortage of land available for building homes. The only way is often up. Not ideal, but as Lee so rightly says, it's shelter from the storm. As soon as there is any hint of releasing vast acres to build new homes, someone, somewhere, gets on their soapbox and starts to complain - the louder the better. This gathers momentum and soon there's a national outcry. Happens all the time.

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  14. Going back to your earlier blog about shopping:
    Last night on TV in Oz we watched a British made documentary about the rise of Aldi. Have you seen it? We like Aldi because it is vastly cheaper than the big chains (Woolworths and Coles) and the smaller choice of goods makes shopping quicker. I specially like their Prosecco and their frozen Belgian potato cakes.

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  15. I love the colors. We've lost several mid-century residential buildings here in London, so I'm glad those in your area have been protected. People think architecture from that period is disposable, but it really is very representative of its place and time.

    (I'm dying to make a joke about Dr. Aziba but I'm not going to.)

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  16. I've never lived higher than a first floor, so cannot imagine either the pleasures or the woes of living at such heights. I don't find 'high-rises' very attractive, because the design is usually repetitive (the fault of the Bauhaus).

    Doesn't Aziba get everywhere these days!!

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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