HOW TWO BRITISH BRUTES EMBRACED A NEW ERA
Park Hill, Sheffield
Designed in the early 1960s by architects Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith (under the supervision of Lewis Womersley, Sheffield’s city architect), this 13-storey Brutalist development started as an aspirational home for council tenants but turned into a symbol of social decay. It remained this way until architects Hawkins/Brown and Studio Egret West completed a refurbishment that was shortlisted for Britain’s Stirling Prize for architecture in 2013. The architects expanded the flats into the external walkways, doubled the size of windows, and peppered the exterior with brightly coloured panels. But the developers also moved out most of the council tenants in order to sell the majority of the apartments to private owners, leading to accusations of “class cleansing” (30 percent of the building remains social housing). Others thought the council was simply being smart by selling off a building that wasn’t working for them and reinvesting the money in other council housing.
Trellick Tower, London
This 31-storey icon of Brutalism in London’s Notting Hill was designed in the late 1960s by Erno Goldfinger to replace Victorian social housing. It quickly became the locus of a cocktail of social problems – crime, vandalism, prostitution and drug-peddling – that led to it being labelled as “The Tower of Terror” (it is also thought to be the building that inspired JG Ballard’s 1975 book High Rise). In the 1980s, in the wake of right-to-buy schemes that allowed several flats to be purchased by their residents, a residents’ association was established that improved security there and made other improvements. The building is now a Category 2 listed structure, and is still predominantly occupied by social housing tenants.
5 & 6. The extensive refurbishment of Park Hill, in Sheffield, was shortlisted for Britain’s Stirling Prize for architecture in 2013. 7. Trellick Tower in London’s Notting Hill was built in the 1960s and is now a Category 2 listed structure.