Sunday, 14 October 2012

Changing the Six Acres.

I walked round the Six Acres the other day looking at the new buildings going up all over the estate:

A building

They look fine, I think. There's something 1930s about them (like an English take on the Gernsback continuum) and they don't have the cramped feel of a lot of new-builds.

There's a complicated conversation to be had about why we don't build enough houses in the UK and what can be done. I'll leave that be for the moment, though I'd be curious to know what you think about it.  There's a more local conversation about whether these particular buildings work for the Six Acres and again I'd love to hear what you think, especially if you live on the estate.

My (superficial) first impression is that they might make the Six Acres more welcoming.  The estate isn't frightening - the people in it are no better and no worse than the fancy lot in Crouch End and the closest I've come to violence there is when this kitten launched itself on me and insisted on having its head rubbed:

Very fierce.

But I do tend to avoid walking through it, whereas I'll take a detour to walk through the Andover, especially in spring or in autumn when the trees are in flower or turning red-gold.

There's this thing that happens in cities when spaces don't work. It can happen in a business district as much as in a suburb, in a rich area as much as a poor one. It's hard to describe but the coherence goes and it's like reading a book and finding that some pages have fallen out. You look around and you're not sure whether that road ahead is a dead end, whether that square is private. You get the impression that outsiders don't turn up often and perhaps aren't entirely welcome. If you're in a hurry, or (like me) you get lost easily you'll probably turn back and head for somewhere where your feet and your eyes know what to expect and how to read it.

The Six Acres seems like that, perhaps because when they obliterated Campbell Road they wanted to make something as different as possible to Victorian streets.

Tell me if you agree, or not. 

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