| Tower Block Tales | Clare House

Is there something that your partner is quite fixated with, yet try as you might, you just can’t really get that enthusiastic about? There MUST be something!

For me, it’s Hiro’s obsession with tower blocks. Hiro has been really fascinated with them way before we met about a decade ago. Pick one, anyone and, he can probably name it in a snappy second. He’s faster than Googling it! For years I’ve heard him enthuse about this tower or that tower. I’ve seen his eyes light up as he counts the number of floors a particularly impressive tower has. I’ve seen him lament the disappearance of pirate radio masts atop each one and more recently, I’ve begun to sympathise with  his disappointment each time another block is demolished.

| TOWER BLOCKS according to Hiro |

“The high-rise social housing that begun to arrive on London’s skyline around the 50’s as a response to a housing shortage in the wake of the war”.

I suppose that it was inevitable that I would begin to feel pangs of appreciation when faced with these urban monoliths. A combination of years of (semi) listening about them, being pretty much surrounded by them and finding myself seeing them through the heartfelt pleasure of seeing Hiro’s constant admiration for them.

Most of London’s tower blocks were built as immediate housing solutions and so their lifespans are relatively short. We are coming towards the end of their time and many have and are being torn down. Those deemed to have architectural merit are being (controversially) transformed  from social to luxury homes. A few are being left to their own devices for now. But change is a coming folks and the tower blocks of London are at the forefront of it.

With the cusp of change in London on our mind and inspired by the work of The Domesday Book, we’ve embarked on a new challenge this year. We want to see, photograph, learn from and take in the vibe of as many tower blocks and connecting housing estates as we can. We’d like to have our own record of these places before they vanish/change forever.

First up is one of our nearest and dearest. Clare House. Not regarded as architecturally significant but it’s colourful and never fails to catch my eye. Hiro is less impressed with it architecturally but likes the fact that it is over 20 stories high.

I enjoy Clare House’s lonesome yet colourful contradiction to the greyness of our local horizon. When she stood flanked by her sisters, she was grey and I imagine that the vibe was quite different back then. Today, the tower has a placid vibe and with the stark white homes of Eden Way in the foreground cast surreal candy coloured shapes in our sky on a clear day.

| Clare House Info |

– Part of the Monteith Estate (also known as the Old Ford Estate).
– There were originally 3 blocks. Clare House is the only one remaining. Her sisters were blown up in 2002.
– 21 Floors up.
– 130 flats.
– Completed in 1967.
– Once home to Wiley. B-b-b-b-Bow E3!!!
– London Borough of Tower Hamlets

| More Links For The Curious | 

The Tower Blocks! Our Blocks, Domesday Book Project