diamond geezer

 Sunday, September 22, 2019

Open House: Page High

When Open House weekend comes round, it's always a treat to visit a housing estate. It's even more of a treat to visit a housing estate that still thrives, that Right To Buy never touched and whose residents clearly think the world of it. And when that housing estate is hidden in plain sight in the midst of a town centre, high above Sainsbury's and a multi-storey car park, even better. That'll be Page High.

We're in Wood Green, where in the mid 1970s Haringey Council decided to create a neighbourhood centre worthy of their new borough. They built The Mall, then called Wood Green Shopping City, and developed a penchant for 'layer cake' development - building things on top of other things. The Mall got Sky City plonked on top, a village of 201 pitched-roofed houses and flats, while a separate project stepped back from the High Road on the eastern side. Sainsbury's and Woolworths joined the consortium which saw two layers of public car park built above the shops, then above that a secluded "street in the air". That'll be Page High.

The entrance isn't over-promising - a doorway up a sidestreet beside a Matalan Clearance Store opposite a Lidl. There are stairs, but once you've been living here a while you know to plump for the lift. And this brings you out at one end of a long street lined by 92 flats and maisonettes, but not a street any car will ever drive down, more a shared community walkway. The irregular redbrick construction is appealing. The chimney for the communal heating system draws the eye. But what immediately impressed yesterday's first-time visitors was how impossible it was to tell that the whole thing was somehow six storeys above ground level.

A posse of Page High residents showed us round, their enthusiasm palpable. They recounted the day in 1975 the Duke of Edinburgh came to open the place, his royal visit fulsomely reported in the Hornsey Express. They smiled as they told how concerted action had fought off the threat of the council's recent Wood Green Area Action Plan, which would have seen the entire site redeveloped and residents decanted elsewhere. They promised to show us inside one of their flats so we could see how spacious it is, and delivered. And they bemoaned their regular battles with the housing company who manage the site, often doing too little but sometimes blundering in and doing too much.

A lot of the signage is fabulously retro, for which read utterly authentic.

These house numbers, for example, are written in a splendidly outmoded typeface on a bright orange background.

This map of the estate, with its bold black arrows, resembles a prop from a Gerry Anderson animation.

And if you step down into the car park, it seems every iteration of Haringey's logo appears somewhere.

Only on level 2 of the car park do you get a proper idea of how the architects put Page High together.

All the flats and the central street are supported on a long linear deck hoisted straight down the middle of the car park. Additional parking spaces are aligned along each side. Pipes extrude, and sometimes leak, forming large puddles on the concrete. A back staircase provides additional access for residents, because in 1975 it was crucially important that everyone had somewhere to park their vehicle. These days the car park's upper level is woefully empty, even on a Saturday afternoon, and you can see why the council might have thought this was an inefficient use of space.

And the views from the balconies are splendid. Depending on which way your flat faces you might see Alexandra Palace, or Docklands, or the City, or the chimneypots of the Noel Park estate stretching off past the courthouse towards the foothills of Essex. Little of the rest of Haringey is highrise, so the panorama rolls on in all directions. But on that central secluded street none of this is visible, just the sense of a focused community strengthened by living together, and long may it remain.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream