An earlier Homevoyeurs.com post dealt with the question whether or not a council estate could be considered a monument. Park Hill in Sheffield got a grade II listing placing it in the top 7% of most important UK buildings. In the article Homevoyeurs compared Park Hill with the Amsterdam neighbourhood Bijlmermeer. Coincidence has it, Amsterdam housing association Rochdale is trying to sell off an entire apartment building in the Bijlmermeer. The entire building, with hundreds of apartments, is for sale for the symbolic figure of 1 euro. The 11 story structure is almost certainly going to be torn down as renovation costs are too expensive. It’s monstrous appearance however, is testament to its birth period and some people think it should be preserved and get monumental status.
Judge for yourself. But bear in mind that some of the world’s most famous buildings were once erected despite many protests. The Eiffel Tower being one. Up to far after its completion, and far after it proved its touristic success, people wanted to have it torn down. Not saying Bijlmermeer is like Paris, but let’s try to consider its historical value. Isn’t it worth preserving just for that? To illustrate a page in Dutch building history?
In the midst of watching a documentary on the BBC about the Park Hill council estate in Sheffield. This 1950 and 1960’s monstrosity (according to most) is a massive social housing estate that got listed Grade II in 1998. This means it is considered of high architectural importance. Yet, protest groups have started campaigns to convince the council to demolish the site and replace it with new social housing. To be fair, it is not the prettiest building..
Sheffield's Park Hill
This made me wonder what makes a building special or important enough to list it as a monument? Is it only aesthetics? or does historical value and impact weigh in equally? My own house for instance is listed as a council monument but, albeit a charming facade, not more special than any other late 19th Century house in Amsterdam. My guess is that a building should be noteworthy for it’s historical and social value too.
English Heritage explains: “The Park Hill Estate is exceptional. As a grade II listed building, it is in the top 7% of the most important buildings in the country, making it as architecturally and historically significant as the Royal Academy of Art or the Harrods building in London.
Its architectural importance was recognised by listing in 1997, when it became one of only nine listed post-war public housing schemes in England. It has iconic status as a landmark for Sheffield, has unusually high design quality and shows Britain’s leading international role in housing design. When it was built (between 1957 and 1961) it was groundbreaking in its concern to recreate the social mix of a traditional streets by using external access decks, or “streets in the sky”. Architects Ivor Smith and Jack Lynn had designed the most ambitious inner-city housing project of its day, and Britain’s first scheme of post-war slum clearance.”
I wonder if the Amsterdam 1970’s project ‘Bijlmermeer’ will be considered once too. I would not want to live there, but I have always had a fascination for it’s gigantic scope and beehive patterned plans. In fact, it is very similar to Park Hill…
Park Hill Sheffield