Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain
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They made it quite plain that if you were going on a job you’d be getting battered … I was between the North Peckham and the Heygate and I was ducking and diving. One of the strikes I went on, and the pickets said: “Right, if you cross this picket line we’re gonna attack you.” I said: “Hold on boys, all I’m doing is picking my tool bag up to level up and then I’m coming home” – and I went off to Glasgow for a month’s holiday. So I done that, and I always remember the site agent saying to me as I.
It. The Excalibur Estate in Catford, where I began my journey, has been condemned; only six of the 187 Uni-Seco prefabs will be preserved. New Ash Green’s Span-designed shopping centre failed to get Portas Pilot money from the government to help regenerate it, so looks set to sink further into dereliction and disrepair. Cumbernauld’s megastructure has been so nibbled-at that it’s now barely a building, and there are even plans to plonk a glass box over the rough concrete of the South Bank Centre,.
Festival of Britain and the new towns. New brutalism was certainly a more memorable brand, ‘adopted as somewhere between a slogan and a brick-bat flung in the public’s face’, even if no one seemed able to decide quite what it stood for.21 For the Smithsons it was about a ‘reverence for materials’,22 a celebration, in Alan Powers’ words, of the ‘thingness of things’ – be it concrete, steel, wood or brick – without dressing them up as anything else. Nikolaus Pevsner, the foremost architectural.
Architects’ thinking was build North Peckham, link it up with the Heygate, link it up with the Aylesbury,’ he said, of three of the vast estates he’d helped build. ‘All linked together on the walkways which meant you didn’t have to go down to ground level. You could walk on first floor level all the way from North Peckham down to Elephant. And I think that’s brilliant! That’s got to be three miles without ever touching the ground.’ But Danny’s memories of the estates he helped build were.
Tubing. Then open air.’ The weather was so bad that by the time the intrepid journalist reached the top, he couldn’t see the ground below. ‘At street level the air barely moves,’ he wrote. ‘Up here vicious gusts tug at coat tails and drizzle slashes at the scaffolding. In gales of 90 mph the tower will twang like a tuning fork through 15 inches. On a still, cloudless day a movement of up to two inches will be induced by the heat of the sun.’24 The Post Office Tower: ‘lean, practical and.