Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Can Aesthetics Improve Social Disorder


Approach From Chorlton Road - Image Copyright of 2e

News has just arrived that Manchester based 2E architects have landed the job of re-cladding 4 existing residential tower blocks on Chorlton Road, at the edge of Mancunian Way. The designs look to clad 3 in a dark chocolate terracotta on 3 facades and a rust proof metal facia on the last facade. The other tower, St Georges, smaller in size, will be cladding with a much lighter shade of terracotta on all four sides. The designs bring a refreshing look to the rather dated and typical looking tower blocks.

St Georges Tower Design, Image Copyright to 2e

As much as this news offers a face lift to a centralised area of Manchester, it brings the question of whether it is suitable. Tower blocks sprung up throughout the UK post World War 2 as an idealistic view on future living. Terrace housing was replaced with cities in the sky. People flocked to the new builds and a time of prosperity blossomed. 20 years later and deterioration began to appear. A lot of occupants left for a better life in houses where the concrete corridors were replaced for a traditional house with a garden of their own. The buildings slowly gained a bad reputation and their presence in modern society has begun to be questioned.

Society has changed, the ideas behind tower blocks have become outdated and a different approach to mass residential living is needed. Or perhaps there is no problem, maybe a a building's physical existence has direct correlation to the bad reputation. Maybe 2E's facelift will give the towers the change they have needed. A building's visual appearance overweighs that of it's function with regards to public opinion. Tower blocks used to flourish, so why can't they now?

Hopefully the design will work and become a precedent for all future council's to look at before they jump to demolition. It certainly offers a more sustainable approach to buildings. Why demolish and rebuild, when you can improve what is already there.

2 comments:

  1. "Why demolish and rebuild, when you can improve what is already there."

    I wish this had been Manchester's train of thought over the last 30 years or so. Demolish and rebuild should be Manchester's slogan.

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  2. Surely tower blocks have their rightful place in our countries architectual identity...? Let thiss set the precedent.

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