Estate ‘Legoland’ which has gone from dream to nightmare in just 15 years
It sounds like something out of an old sci-fi movie – but this housing estate was once a reality for thousands of residents.
The Southgate estate only had a lifespan of 15 years. But in that short span of time he went from being an innovative solution to eliminating Liverpool’s slums to becoming a problem-ridden area that was ultimately demolished.
It’s easy to forget that this daring housing project – with its hard concrete blocks, colorful facades and “washing machine” portholes – even existed on an area of land now occupied by Hallwood Park in Runcorn.
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The estate was first commissioned in 1967 but did not complete its final phase until 10 years later.
It was designed to hold 1,500 residential units with a population of 6,000, ECHO reported last August.
The elimination of Liverpool’s slums necessitated the creation of “new towns” to house the overflow created by the demolition of the unsanitary and squalid living conditions in the city’s Victorian slums.
While many were moved to new towers in engineering subdivisions like Cantril Farm (now renamed Stockbridge Village), Southgate’s designs offered something entirely different.
The Runcorn subdivision was designed by James Stirling. with a layout inspired by Georgian squares in cities like Bath and Edinburgh.
Mr Stirling said the round portholes, referred to by residents as “washing machines”, were inspired by Liverpool’s maritime heritage.
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The estate consisted of flat-roofed terraced housing and apartment buildings with bridge access, all connected by “streets in the sky” walkways that passed over traffic and provided access to Shopping City. .
The estate’s apartments were made from concrete panels with a plastic coating colored in bold blue, yellow and orange, which led to the estate being dubbed “Legoland”.
But things quickly started to deteriorate on the estate, with apartments accessible by the bridge making surveillance difficult, leading to crime issues.
Occupants who had been moved from slums to new homes began to complain of antisocial behavior and noise among a long list of other issues.
The decision to install an oil-fired central heating system meant tenants could no longer afford to heat their homes after the oil crisis of the early 1970s.
Residents also complained about the inability to personalize the exterior of their homes, the lack of private garden space for many, and the drastic aspect of the development, which was millions of miles from traditional housing on offer elsewhere. In the region.
With such a catalog of problems, families began to relocate, leaving properties vacant and the estate was seen as a “dumping ground for unwanted people”.
By the mid-1980s the Southgate estate was a mess and in 1989 the Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation decided to demolish it completely, with work to demolish it starting in 1990.
While Southgate may have been short-lived, photos of this daring architectural project still spark debate over whether to stamp out such a striking housing development.
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