Thursday, July 29, 2010

Death of a Housing Project

video

Another one of my films. This one simply shows the demolition of some 1970s social housing on one this town's housing estates. The housing in question consisted of several blocks of pretty run down brick built maisonettes. They'd been a landmark for many, many years, gaining a reputation for being one of the least desirable places to live locally. In their 'prime', I recall their communal parking areas being full of half-dismantled (and sometimes burnt out) cars, interspersed with broken furniture and rubbish bins. The interiors were every bit as tired as the exteriors - dingy rooms and cigarette-scarred formica tops. Nevertheless, they provided homes to hundreds, possibly thousands of people on low incomes during the decades they stood.

So, why did I film part of their demolition and post it here? Well, not only were these maisonettes, despite all their shortcomings, part of the fabric of my local town, but they also formed a significant part of my professional life for the past decade. I've been in more of them than I care to remember and seen some truly horrendous living conditions there. Indeed, I was involved in clearing out the last of the residents. I only wish that I had thought to film them before they came down, when they were derelict and empty, and regret that I didn't capture more of the demolition. After all, if I don't record their passing, who will? They may not have constituted great housing, but, whether we like it or not, they formed an integral part of this town's community for a long time.

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