Park Hill: Looking Back, Moving Forward
Richard Fletcher, artist (TowerBlockMetal) and Urban Regeneration Advocate:
Tell us about Tower Block Metal and its relationship with Park Hill.
I’ve been creating imagery of brutalist buildings as well as other aspects of urban and industrial environments for a long time now; it’s essentially a real labour of love. I’ve always had a fascination with the post-war urban environment and I can still remember the times when it was viewed with a tentative openness and optimism. Obviously, this type of urban living has gone through good and bad times over the last few years and Park Hill is the absolute structural embodiment of that.
What is the pull to these buildings from an artistic perspective?
Park Hill allows you to get up close and dirty with it that other urban spaces do not. The open yards within the derelict complex are wonderfully eerie, almost brooding evocative spaces, with pigeons as your only companions. More importantly, Park Hill is one of the few remaining brutalist buildings that have been saved from the wrecking ball. Its Grade II-listed status clearly still irks and exasperates many. Haters are always going to hate.
You’re a passionate advocate for urban living. How has Park Hill and similar housing projects had to develop to fit in with the modern world?
That’s a great question. Clearly I am passionate about Park Hill but this goes way beyond the now iconic image. It is the rationale, history and future of urban living that I am an unrelenting advocate for. I’ve always been a passionate supporter for making such schemes work and challenging the dominant narrative that they are simply concrete jungles.
Next: Mick Jones, ex-resident