Quarry Hill Flats, once both the pride and shame of its city of Leeds, was an iconic Modernist symbol of the 1930s. It marked the first use of a prefabricated building system for a large-scale council estate, replacing a notorious slum. But it lasted barely a generation – its complete demolition was announced as Alison Ravetz was finishing this study. First published in 1974, this book is unique in its use of all estate records from conception to destruction, as well as in its comprehensive approach, including aspects usually missing in council housing studies – notably the intimate experience of residents, and a fraught, long-drawn-out building period. Ravetz argues that the Flats’ ‘failure’ was due not to social breakdown, as repeatedly alleged, but rather to a rigidity of design and management unable to accommodate gradual, incremental change. This has continuing implications for the operation of bureaucratically designed and controlled ‘social housing’ today.
Table of Contents
Illustrations; Figures; Tables; Acknowledgements; 1. The city and the poor: inherited constraints and contradictions of municipal housing 2. Working-class housing and town planning in Leeds up to 1940 3. The genesis of Quarry Hill Flats 4. Experimental building and its consequences: the Mopin system in practice 5. Social functions of the model environment: the estate populations 6. Community by design: forms of social life on the model estate 7. Social causes of physical change: the devolution of the model estate 8. Private lives and the model estate 9. Conclusions: methods, assessments and futures of model environments; Postscript January 1974; Appendix : Quarry Hill Flats Tenants’ Association proposals, 1949; Appendix II: The 1969 Survey of Quarry Hill Flats; References; Name Index; Subject Index