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Praise for Upper Holloway estate… but not all residents enjoy life in a post-modern world

Belvoir estate, built in the 1980s, is lauded by Historic England for its architectural style, easy access for disabled residents and communal outdoor space – but those who live there are baffled

23 May, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Roger Ley and Abigail Long outside the post-modernist Belvoir estate in Upper Holloway

A SHELTERED housing block has been lauded for its “bold and playful” postmodern design, leaving residents baffled.

The heritage body Historic England has praised the 1980s Belvoir estate in Upper Holloway for its architectural style, easy access for disabled residents and for giving every home access to a communal outdoor space.

Roger Ley, who lives in one of the estate’s flats in Hillrise Road, said: “I’d like to meet the architects to punch them in the face. It’s not good for the people that live upstairs. The steps to the flats are difficult and steep. I can’t believe it.”

Mr Ley, who has lived on the estate for nine years, added: “My left eye lost its sight. My right eye is going fuzzy. I couldn’t manage those steps any more. I would have gone down and landed on my head.”

Historic England said architecture such as that at the Belvoir estate brought ‘fun and colour to our streets’

Rachel Mckay, who has lived on the estate for 11 years, said: “The down­side is we have secondary-glazed windows. It’s not double glazed. The triangle windows are stupid. They are difficult to open because they open inwards. You can hear the traffic and all the car fumes from the street come in.”

Although the building’s structure didn’t meet some tenants’ standards, one resident was pleased with the outdoor space of her postmodern home. On a sunny Tuesday, Abigail Leong, who moved to the estate December last year, said: “It’s the first time I’ve been out here this year.

“All the residents are going to have a barbecue soon. When my friends come round they like it here.”

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: “Post-Modern architecture brought fun and colour to our streets. Housing schemes were enlivened with bold façades, a school technology build­ing was decorated with columns designed as screws, a business park injected with glamour.

“These are scarce survivals of a really influential period of British architecture and these buildings deserve the protection that listing gives them.”

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