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Dishy Leith flats lauded with category A listing

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February 1 2017

Dishy Leith flats lauded with category A listing
Historic Environment Scotland has chosen to recognise a Brutalist public housing duo in Leith with its highest listing category possible after conducting a consultation with tenants.

Since being built in the 1960’s the grey edifice of Cables Wynd House and Linksview House have become local landmarks in their own right; particularly the kinked profile of the former, colloquially known as the Banana Flats, which attained global infamy after being committed to celluloid for Trainspotting.

Lauding the twins as being of ‘national or international’ significance Dawn McDowell, deputy head of designations at HES, said: “In the early 1960s a new, higher quality, and more holistic approach to housing schemes was being pioneered, inspired by housing schemes in France – which aimed to create not just houses but communities. Cables Wynd House and Linksview are amongst the best examples of these schemes, with their use of external access decks as a way of recreating the civic spirit of traditional tenemented streets, and the inclusion of modern features like lifts and heated flooring helping to lift living standards for the residents.

“Cables Wynd was the largest block of flats in Edinburgh at the time, and possibly the most accomplished architecturally, characterising the ‘New Brutalism’ in building, which laid bare the essential materials of a building’s construction, using reinforced and in situ concrete.”    

Professor Miles Glendinning, director of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies, added: “These two blocks abundantly merit their listing at Category A, because they combine international excellence in modernist urban design with an attention to the spirit of place that is specific to Edinburgh, especially to the ‘conservative surgery’ concept of urban renewal, pioneered by Patrick Geddes around 1900.

“Edinburgh’s post-war multi storey social housing redevelopments were designed to fit into small, highly constrained sites. I believe that Cables Wynd House in particular, was built in its distinctive curved shape as a creative solution to the constraints of that particular site. Along with Linksview House, it represents an outstanding synthesis of international modernist architecture with Geddes’s ‘conservative surgery’ principles.”

Cables Wynd and Linksview are the 50th and 51st postwar buildings to be designated with an A listing, elevating them to being of equivalent importance as landmarks such as the Forth Road Bridge and The Royal Commonwealth Pool.
A kinked profile lends the Banana Flats their memorable aphorism
A kinked profile lends the Banana Flats their memorable aphorism

7 Comments

RENTON
#1 Posted by RENTON on 1 Feb 2017 at 17:12 PM
Hey guys, we're all big fans of the puns in the titles...but in what way are these flats 'Dishy'?
Billy
#2 Posted by Billy on 1 Feb 2017 at 19:18 PM
Is it the first of April?
Wayne Blanchard
#3 Posted by Wayne Blanchard on 1 Feb 2017 at 20:42 PM
“...designed to fit into small, highly constrained sites...built in its distinctive curved shape as a creative solution to the constraints of that particular site." That plus 'brutalist', 'concrete' and other terms here remind one of the (thankfully) ill-fated St. James Centre. Yet this is feted and the Centre is (rightfully) demolished for being a demonic beast in the heart of the New Town. Both are like the architectural cancer that afflicts the likes of Cumbernauld - horrid. Edinburgh deserves better than this.
Billy
#4 Posted by Billy on 1 Feb 2017 at 23:28 PM
At least Glasgow is attempting to rid itself of these horrors(Queen Elizabeth Sq in Gorbals etc), Visited Cumbernauld recently and just appalled by how bad the town centre is. Cold and univiting. It needs torn down. Barlinnie looks more inviting. Shame for a new town to be dragged down by someone's nightmare of a town centre. Bite the bullet North Lanarkshire council and rid the landscape of this horror. People want somewhere nice to shop. I like to visit different shopping centres and usually revisit. This is one I will not or recommend. People of Cumbernauld deserve better.
Cadmonkey
#5 Posted by Cadmonkey on 2 Feb 2017 at 06:59 AM
Quiet day at "The Office for Conservation Studies"?
Suggesting this development represents a fine example of Geddesian Conservative Surgery means you could apply the same theory to any rammed development that pays not even the faintest nod to its context.
I would've very interested to know if a structural report on the condition of the ageing Scottish concrete formed part of the consultation exercise. (Why list something near the end of its design life?)
Does anyone know if the results of the public consultation exercise that appear to have been a material consideration in this decision are available for public view? That would make an interesting read.
My suspicion is that the two buildings needs extensive refurbishment works carried out and the only way to justify the spending of public money on them was to have them spuriously listed.
A shocking waste of public money....
Egbert
#6 Posted by Egbert on 2 Feb 2017 at 08:48 AM
I'm all in favour of this listing decision as there's abundant architectural merit in these blocks, but even I would suggest citing Geddes' conservative surgery principles in their case is stretching it somewhat - particularly in the case of Linksview, forming as it did the focus of the comprehensive development area that all but obliterated the old Kirkgate. Pretty much the antithesis of Geddes.
Islands of sanity
#7 Posted by Islands of sanity on 2 Feb 2017 at 18:01 PM
Agree with Egbert. Language of justification a joke, not just Geddes but totally ignoring that The retention of Linksview House, mucks up the opportunity to recreate Tolbooth St by the removal of the other cruddy scheme next door. I would just have listed the banana flats.

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