I mean, what was the architect thinking..?
It must be catching too, because the scaffolding came down from a new development in Southend on Sea a few weeks ago, and oh, the horror, the horror:
Well, Lynsey Hanley had an article in ‘CiF regarding modern architecture :
The level of public esteem accorded to both tower blocks and politicians is, for the moment, about equal. They fester alongside charity muggers and Ryanair in what David Bowie, in the 1986 film Labyrinth, termed "the bog of eternal stench". So what would you say if you knew that the next generation of soon-to-be-loathed and unfit-for-purpose housing was being thrown up under the government's watch?I’d say ‘I’m not a bit surprised’…
The Kickstart "housing delivery" programme, through which £400m of public money will be administered to stalled and truncated new housebuilding schemes by the Homes & Communities Agency, has been given a kicking in recent weeks by parties including the influential Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, the government's adviser on building quality.It seems they aren't happy with the building picked out for this scheme, and if they are anything like the day-glo erections above, I'm not entirely surprised...
Under the first round of the programme, many schemes have been revealed as failing most of Cabe's Building for Life criteria. New developments are given ratings out of 20 according to the quality of design, surroundings, environmental credentials and likelihood of creating a sense of community. Some have scored as little as 1.5, with many others achieving 10 or less.I wonder what those two would score?
In effect, the government is pushing through inadequate housing schemes in order to meet its target of having built 3m new homes before 2020. Disenchanted professionals have taken to calling the programme "Building Slums for the Future" in a nod to the government's other patchy mass construction scheme, Building Schools for the Future.It seems that not everyone is willing to bite the hand that feeds them, though:
Yet they're not getting the support they hoped for among other design champions. Even David Birkbeck, the chief executive of Design for Homes, an independent body, has called Kickstart "a Marshall Plan for the devastated housebuilding sector. You don't just give emergency aid to the best dressed. The HCA is right to withhold support from only the very worst".Which didn't sit too well with Lynsey, who had obviously seen even worse buildings than these two:
Really? There's already plenty of appallingly unattractive and family-unfriendly new housing that's been completed during the recession without the aid of Kickstart. My favourite of these must be a high-rise orange space crumpet named The Old Bus Depot, squashed into the junction of two busy A-roads near the M6 at Lancaster. Solely comprising one- and two-bedroom flats, its balconies enjoy uninterrupted views of a PC World superstore and the bit where the A683 splits off from the A6.Now, it's fairly obvious that little can be done about the vista outside the window. But the design of the building itself? That's totally in the hands of the architects, isn't it?
I mean, who in their right mind would look at the two schemes above with pride, and say 'I live there!'..? Where does it come from, this desire to recreate on a giant scale the things you built with Lego as a kid?
And does anyone really believe that, in years to come, this period will be looked back on in the way that, say, the Georgian period is looked back on?
Update: The scaffolding has come down from the side too, and, oh, my...
Are those dials supposed to be clocks? Or is it not a housing development at all, but a giant oven?