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Society has changed, the ideas behind tower blocks have become outdated and a different approach to mass residential living is needed.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.


  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.

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