Cables Wind House has been granted A-listed status
by Alison & Hutchison & Partners, Harry Horace MacDonald and Robert Forbes Hutchison, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1963
“Edinburgh´s world-famous collection of historic buildings just got another entry – a 1960s block of flats. Grey, concrete and 10 storeys tall, Cables Wind House in Leith has just been granted A-listed status, putting it in the same category as Holyrood Palace, Queen´s official residence in Scotland.
Known locally as the Banana Flats due to its curved shape, the block made literary history after Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh named it as the childhood home of Simon “Sticky Boy” Williamson, who is referred to in the novel as the “Bannanay flats cavalier”.
Neighbouring Linksview House has also been upgraded, giving both blocks protection against alteration and demolition.
Announcing the decision yesterday, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) which oversees the country´s important buildings, said they were of “national or international importance”.
Dawn McDowell, the agency´s deputy head of designations, said: “Following the Second World War, Scotland´s cities undertook ambitious building programmes to improve living conditions and health standards. The initial thinking was to provide only the most basic, high-density accommodation, at minimal cost, leading to the introduction of the high-rise flat.
“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 among the best examples of these schemes, with their use of external access decks as a way of recreating the civic spirit of traditional tenement streets, and 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”.
The listing mean a total of 51 post-WW2 buildings have now been given Category A status, including the Forth Road Bridge, the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh and St. Peter´s Seminary in Cardross.
Professor Miles Gledinning, director of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies, said: “These two blocks abundantly merit their listing at category A. They combine international excellence in modernist urban design with an attention to be the spirit of Edinburgh.
“Its post-war multi-storey housing redevelopments were designed to fit into small, highly constrained sites. I believe Cables Wynd House, in particular, was built in its distinctive curved shape as a creative solution to the constraints of that site.””
Original text by Kirsteen Paterson in The National published in 1st February 2017.
Docomomo International is happy about this recognition by the Historic Environment Scotland that brings to light important changes of mentality regarding the preservation of post-war housing buildings.
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