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Old Posted Oct 7, 2015, 7:55 PM
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Scottish tenements, English terraces

Scottish tenements, English terraces


Sep 21st, 2014

By Andrew Hoolachan

Read More: http://kingsreview.co.uk/magazine/bl...lish-terraces/

Quote:
.....

These two distinct forms of dwelling – the Scottish tenement and the English terraced house – developed in roughly the same period and for roughly the same purpose: to provide homes for the rapidly expanding working and lower-middle classes of late Victorian Britain.

- If vernacular architecture can say something about a nation, surely the English terraced house is part of its national story. Watching Britain’s oldest soap opera, Coronation Street, one can hardly fail to notice its opening credits, which feature terraces of slated rooftops and chimney pots. The camera pans slowly downwards into the street, and we glimpse a cat negotiating a garden wall.

- This is a dense terraced housing area of Manchester. On maps that show industrial areas of English cities, one can see uniform street patterns like those in Coronation Street: rectangular blocks with a service lane running through the backs of the houses, which are adjoined and face the street.

- Few English people would consider this housing type as anything other than “normal.” But in fact, it is unique. Late 19th century cities of northeast America, for example, are designed differently. Systems of land use and law unique to America, combined with modern construction techniques, resulted in the tenements and brownstones we see today in Chicago, Boston and New York.

- On the continent, large, four-sided apartment buildings became the norm, usually comprising five or six storeys surrounding an internal courtyard. In some cases, as in the poorer districts of Berlin, the internal courtyards were built upon further, with added extensions to the building. Hamburg, Prague, Vienna and Turin all display similar 19th century residential design, and all differ from England.

- In the field of urban geography, cities are sometimes described as comprising a central core, which is often labelled a Central Business District or CBD. Surrounding this area is a ‘ring’ of industrial-era growth, containing warehouse and residential districts. The main differences between Scottish and English urbanism are found in this ring.

- If we compare Manchester’s Fallowfields or the area surrounding Mill Road in Cambridge, to Glasgow’s Dennistoun or Edinburgh’s Marchmont, this difference becomes apparent. The inner ring of residential terraces in England creates a low-rise Victorian typology like the Cambridge street described previously. We sometimes see shop conversions, cafes, and other activities that dense housing areas generate along main streets.

- Scottish tenements combine elements of European apartments and English terraced streets. The Scots tenement has one communal entrance, and two apartments per floor. Each building is around three to four storeys in height and adjoins its neighbours like an English terrace. Unlike the English terrace however, back gardens are communal.

- According to the 2001 census, around half of Glasgow lives in such dwellings, which range in grandeur and cosiness. In the widespread nature of such dwelling, and its location in the centre of the city rather than suburbia, Scotland resembles its continental neighbours. Upon visiting Edinburgh, my German friend (living in England at the time), remarked how the high ceilings reminded him of his native Hamburg. And likewise, I sometimes feel more at home in Hamburg than in England.

- Although Scotland and England have been tumultuous neighbours, not least in the constitutional question Scotland has asked itself in 2014, their divergent residential architectures pose similar challenges and strengths. A strong commonality between the tenement and terraces is that they have both been criticised for being too dense.

- High-density living is often associated with disease, crime, delinquency and political agitation. Yet many high-density cities flourish, while low-rise sprawling suburbs can be plagued with crime. Unfortunately, most successful high-density areas like our tenements and terraces are often forgotten. Whenever I mention “tenements” to people who are not from Scotland, they assume I am being derogatory, as if tenement is synonymous with the word “slum”.

- Dense living is not for everyone. The appeal of the suburbs is more space and family living, lower cost of living, perceptions of safety, and access to green space. But through good design, we can combine the density and vitality of cities without compromising space, access to greenery, and cost. This is evident in long-term plans for the London 2012 Olympic Legacy, which is one of the largest ongoing regeneration projects in Europe.

- Incorporating many of the lessons learned in the last few decades of planning, design and architecture, it represents a powerful articulation of urban thinking in 2014. The housing plans around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will draw on a ‘London vernacular’ reflecting the dense, terraced and mews dwellings Londoners have been used to, but built and designed to be as energy-efficient and carbon-neutral as possible.

- Our housing problem today is severe: affordability is for the few. New private developments turn their backs on the street, are built with thin walls, small ceilings and windows, and often built behind gates, killing street life. We feel that we need more safety, so retreat into ever more sprawling suburbs, or behind higher gates. We allow the super-rich, who often contribute very little to our cities, to buy up properties they rarely occupy, turning swathes of central London into ghost towns and putting unsustainable pressure on ordinary families to move further and further away from their places of work.

- Private security and CCTV have replaced the natural networks and safety of a vibrant mixed community whom have long been priced out. To reconnect with our neighbours, to love our streets, to become citizens, let’s remember the benefits of the tried and tested design of our tenements and terraces. We can create sustainable and affordable places to live without turning our backs on the intimacy of urban living, whether in England or in Scotland.

.....



A terrace view, Cambridge







Tenements in Pollokshields, Glasgow


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Old Posted Oct 9, 2015, 4:25 PM
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I have to say the relative lack of late 19th/early 20th century "tenement" neighborhoods is one of the greatest weaknesses of English cities. Another difference between UK and other Western cities is that there is barely any difference between urban and suburban areas in terms of housing styles.
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Old Posted Oct 9, 2015, 6:25 PM
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There are some new cul-de-sacs that have newer type housing in newer areas like those seen on the show Brookside.
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Old Posted Oct 9, 2015, 11:53 PM
mrnyc mrnyc is offline
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i always took it as the brits are suburban people at heart, even if it is a quite dense form of it. so they say anyway, yes?

i think these blocks are pretty nice, in doses anyway. certainly the usa could use a hell of a lot more of the terrace style housing vs all the detached housing and apt buildings, at least in the developing or redeveloping cities and inner suburbs. i don't think it will happen too much though, its all about the lifestyle mall apts these days or apts built over retail. nobody has time to walk over to high street shopping anymore.
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Old Posted Oct 10, 2015, 4:20 AM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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Terraced housing is not unique to England. In the United States, we call them rowhouses of course, and while they are only dominate the urban vernacular in Philadelphia and Baltimore they can be found in a wide swathe of the country where 19th century urban housing survives. Outside the U.S. they're common in parts of Canada (particularly Montreal), Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore.

What might be unique is the degree to which the UK kept to attached housing styles even in the late 20th century. In the U.S. even Philly and Baltimore finally gave up on large-scale attached housing developments in the 1950s. From my limited experience with British suburban housing typologies, it seems like attached (or at least semi-attached) remain the preferred style of suburban housing even today.
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Old Posted Oct 12, 2015, 12:47 AM
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A truly outstanding typology.
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Old Posted Oct 12, 2015, 11:30 AM
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I don’t believe it would be accurate to claim that Brits are suburban people at heart; yes, we like our homes (an Englishman’s home is his castle after all and there is even a museum dedicated to homes; the Geffrye in London - http://geffrye-museum.org.uk), but we also like our countryside so the result is relatively dense walkable urban settlements with low levels of sprawl (compared to most Western economies) that are encased within large Green Belts.

The absence of tenement neighbourhoods in English cities is more than compensated by the tight network of terraces that dominate many towns and cities. Portsmouth, Leicester and Accrington examples below.


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Image sourced from Bing Maps: https://www.bing.com/maps
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