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Infamous Leith tower block pair in-line for listing

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November 11 2016

Infamous Leith tower block pair in-line for listing
A pair of Leith tower blocks immortalised in Trainspotting could become Edinburgh’s newest listed buildings following the launch of a consultation exercise by Historic Environment Scotland.

Best known as the home of ‘Sick Boy’ from Trainspotting Cables Wynd House, colloquially known as the banana flats owing to its curvaceous profile, the building could soon become recognised for its architectural qualities should it be listed alongside the neighbouring Linksview House.

Residents of both blocks, predominantly owned by City of Edinburgh Council, are being asked their views as part of the listing process.
Historic Environment Scotland’s deputy head of listing, Dawn McDowell said: “Cables Wynd House and Linksview House were innovative, ground-breaking designs at the time when they were built and offered a new vision for social housing and for those who lived in them.

“A key aim of listing is to recognise the special architectural importance of these buildings as well as celebrating and sharing their wider social and cultural role.”

An informal drop-in session will be held on 6 December at Leith Library, Ferry Road, between 16:00 and 19:00.
The distinctive flats represent an important juncture in UK social housing policy
The distinctive flats represent an important juncture in UK social housing policy

22 Comments

Yaldy
#1 Posted by Yaldy on 11 Nov 2016 at 14:10 PM
Absolute lefty nonsense trying to list something like that
Auntie Nairn
#2 Posted by Auntie Nairn on 11 Nov 2016 at 14:39 PM
Really Yaldy? Do share your opinions on lefty nonsense, please.
Egbert
#3 Posted by Egbert on 11 Nov 2016 at 15:34 PM
And the Big Chantelle award for nonsensical politicisation goes to... #1
Terra
#4 Posted by Terra on 11 Nov 2016 at 19:43 PM
I appreciate that it's not as bad as a lot of other brutalist flats built around the same period but that's not saying much. Listing it? Hmmm. Dunno.
I am missing Brian Sewell
#5 Posted by I am missing Brian Sewell on 12 Nov 2016 at 10:05 AM
The distinctive Bay City Rollers music represented an important juncture in UK 1970s social and cultural phenomena.

Yes, but they're still shite.
Ross
#6 Posted by Ross on 12 Nov 2016 at 10:19 AM
Raze it to be ground! Ain't no one got time for that building!
Daniel
#7 Posted by Daniel on 12 Nov 2016 at 18:19 PM
How are they 'tower blocks', UR?
Terra
#8 Posted by Terra on 13 Nov 2016 at 22:03 PM
Like the vast majority of brutalist schemes built back then, this does stick out like a sore thumb. Taken on its own it has certain merit but your talking from a purely technical, design sense that falls flat on its arse when you put it back in the context of its surroundings and purpose. The really nice Victorian tenements in front of it just hit that home. It's like the St. James centre. On its own it is...interesting from a certain, academic point of view, but these buildings, intended for public use and in a city with many beautiful historical buildings, were just dumped in place by architects who cared more about their vision than the reality of Edinburgh and an appreciation of how they relate to it.
Yaldy
#9 Posted by Yaldy on 14 Nov 2016 at 10:31 AM
#2, meet #5
rankbadyin
#10 Posted by rankbadyin on 14 Nov 2016 at 11:57 AM
Tread carefully Yaldy, lest you end up on the next purge list.
In my opinion we should retain some choice brutalist architecture, if only to stand as a warning once the philosophy of brutalist design comes into fashion again in 20 years time.
Yaldy
#11 Posted by Yaldy on 14 Nov 2016 at 12:37 PM
Fair enough #10. But at least do that in places where architects actually live then, like Glasgow West End or whatever the fancy bit of Edinburgh is, so they can learn the lesson. Look at picture number two, would any of you want to live there?
Cadmonkey
#12 Posted by Cadmonkey on 14 Nov 2016 at 15:00 PM
I think this proposal to list Is very telling about Historic Environment Scotland and the public sector in general:
1. They have too much time on their hands.
2. They enjoy spending our money (why list something and all the financial burden that entails, that is coming to the end of its design life)
3. Their mindset is detached from the general public whom they serve.
A Local Pleb
#13 Posted by A Local Pleb on 15 Nov 2016 at 13:02 PM
Listing of any building always provokes emotional reactions but I would suggest that an appreciation of the listing process will demonstrate that decisions are not made on a whim, refer to https://www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support/listing-scheduling-and-designations/listed-buildings/what-is-listing/

I would also highlight (from the website) that....'Listed buildings have characteristics that:
•help to create Scotland’s distinctive character
•are a highly visible and accessible part of our rich heritage
•express Scotland’s social and economic past
•span a wide range of uses and periods
•contribute significantly to our sense of place'

Whilst #12 Cadmonkey is entitled to his/her opinion I would have to wholeheartedly disagree. Such sweeping general statements are grossly naïve to say the least!
basho
#14 Posted by basho on 15 Nov 2016 at 14:10 PM
Ah, Historic Scotland. Bless them.
Can you imagine their comments when this was first proposed? Their chiffon cravats probably imploded with rage.
Now, they want to list these buildings. Yup.
The banana block is interesting from a technical point of view - in the way that much Stalinist era detention centres are.
I used to live near Linksview House for 11 years. A grim view out the window.
Has anyone from Historic Scotland lived near these buildings?
Thought not.
I am missing Brian Sewell
#15 Posted by I am missing Brian Sewell on 15 Nov 2016 at 18:31 PM
#13 - Yes, indeed, exactly my point:

'The Bay City Rollers had characteristics that:
•helped to create music with a distinctive Scottish character
•were highly visible and accessible and contributed significantly to part of our rich heritage
•expressed Scotland’s social and economic past
•their music spanned a wide range of uses and periods
•contributed significantly to our sense of place/self/nationhood - whateffer

It's all bollocks.

Weighed down by an arbitrary post-60's structuralist methodology, the lumbering listing process wouldn't be able to distinguish between the work of William McGonagall and William Shakespeare.
Cadmonkey
#16 Posted by Cadmonkey on 16 Nov 2016 at 00:29 AM
#13
Why list something that must be very close to the end of its design life? HES decision makers clearly have little understanding that concrete structures such as these have a limited design life and these buildings must be coming very close to the end of theirs.
Apart from that they are incongruous to their surroundings and are part of what is bad about Leith.
They have clearly be designed by an architect (or assistant) with very limited ability and contributing zero to context or the public domain.
I maintain HES considering listing this blot and incurring cost to the public purse doing consultation is a good example of job justification, lack of common sense and public sector waste.
Islands of sanity
#17 Posted by Islands of sanity on 16 Nov 2016 at 20:02 PM
Many years ago, I wrote a small book on Scottish architecture. I recall one example where the David Bryce church was revered, only to find that prior to construction, the locals were Going bananas at this Victorian monstrosity next the the mediaeval aisle. We must list the best of all periods of architecture. Whether these flats are the business are another matter.
Cadmonkey
#18 Posted by Cadmonkey on 16 Nov 2016 at 23:48 PM
Does anyone even know who the architect was for either block?
Islands of sanity
#19 Posted by Islands of sanity on 17 Nov 2016 at 20:11 PM
#18 Seems to be Alison & Hutchison & Partners according to the Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Curiously the HES consultation report I saw in BEFS, makes no reference to any architect!
Cadmonkey
#20 Posted by Cadmonkey on 18 Nov 2016 at 00:21 AM
We're they the architects for both?
Have they done any other buildings regarded as having any merit?
Curious indeed about HES.
Perhaps they ran out of time having had 2 cappuccinos after a slap up lunch during the "field trip" on the Shore.
Islands of sanity
#21 Posted by Islands of sanity on 18 Nov 2016 at 19:08 PM
Yes.
About 70 buildings listed, including my least favourite other buildings in Leith. From the list I would hazard a guess that the most attractive places were the addresses of their practice offices.
SDOSA is an online resource. Please try. No entry for CADmonkey though.
Primate
#22 Posted by Primate on 21 Nov 2016 at 12:09 PM
Christ, you're a snobby bunch. Do you all live in Cramond?

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