Thought: 'High Rise' the movie - do we really understand the needs of high-rise residents?

The timing of the film High-Rise is perfect as resistance to tower structures is picking up momentum in London. Renzo Piano’s 72-floor “Paddington Pole” has been subject to fierce opposition with cries of intimidating our sky line and the tower is now under re-consideration. JG Ballard wrote High-Rise in the mid-1970s inspired by the nearby Trellick Tower, built in 1975, and Hulme Crescent in Manchester and questioned how would these brutalist concrete buildings impact on the lives of their residents?

A key architectural theme in High-Rise is the use of public spaces and the interaction between people in them. Do we really understand the needs of high-rise residents, be they in social housing or affluent, and how they live?  

With so many modern apartments being sold to foreign investors you may find that you are the only one making your way to the gym on the 35th floor; an isolated jogger on the black conveyer belt.  Perhaps communal spaces like gyms and pools can only work if they are run commercially; could outside control be what is required to make it all work, becoming real self-contained cities and not Pandora’s Box?  

Interiors Director and design blogger, Hilary Clayton-Mitchell examines how the movie is an analogy of Britain’s economic malaise in that decade and perhaps of our current austere times too.

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Hilary Clayton-Mitchell

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