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..
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…