This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)
London’s social housing provisions are far from ideal. A lack of availability has turned many of the city’s poorly designed provisions into ghettos for the socially underprivileged, and many years of underinvestment has further reduced habitability. However, in east London attempts are being made to ‘refurbish’ some predominantly social-housing areas by building new and ‘desirable’ buildings on the edge of currently less-than-desirable buildings.
Swedenborg Gardens, in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, is a large estate which has fallen into a poor condition. Developments are a mixture of relatively low-rise, at around 5 storeys, to very high rise. In an attempt to improve the area, formerly open spaces between the buildings are being built on, introducing buildings of a much higher standard to the area. At present, only one new addition is nearing completion, shown in the above image. Clearly of a higher standard than that which surrounds it, it is hoped that these new higher-spec developments will have positive spin-off effects on neighbouring buildings.
Four similar developments are currently underway in the estate, at varying stages of completion. Whilst the work is reducing the amount of open space nearby, the location of the estate within a public park reduces the negative effects of this.
Some low-rise development have also been attached to the estate, with one three-storey building (above) and two two-storey buildings (below) already complete and inhabited.
London must improve its social housing provisions, and developments like these are an acceptable way to begin. Improving the design of the built environment can only be a good thing for those who exist within it, however, simply attaching new buildings onto old and poorly-maintained buildings alone cannot be enough. The buildings which have fallen into a poor condition will also have to be improved, otherwise those living within them may end up feeling even more isolated.