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Market Estate: Tour of the Flats: Day 3

Posted: February 21st, 2010

We woke up to London rain and were reminded that we need to consider the weather as we be begin to work. Our plan today was to explore the interior of as many flats as we could.  The Market Estate Project planners have specific keys to each flat so we can only see a few at a time. We saw around 12 or so by 1pm. Many were in a state of total disrepair. However some were in almost perfect condition with wild wallpaper patterns and brightly colored carpets.

Gadi, one of the project coordinator’s, invited over for a great lunch of hummus and fava beans.  It was delicious, and a very nice tradition that they do every Sunday.

We had an interesting conversation about how the Estates operate in London (Estates are the UK’s term for our housing projects),  as well as the expectations and goals of the ME Projects. One thing that we understood is that the organizers view this project first and foremost as a service to artists, as a way to provide unique opportunities for the production of work. While they hope that the project will benefit the local community, that is not their primary motivation. We also learned that this Estate is currently owned by a private developer, and not the local government. This is the entire reason why we are allowed to be here and why there isn’t the same level of bureaucracy as with other Estates owned by the council.

Gadi referred to the developer as a kind of client, and its clear that he thinks that it’s important for the project to benefit the developer since they are providing the space. How? Through publicity that will hopefully entice new tenants in the flats that get built when the Estate is torn down. The buildings that will replace Market Estate will be rented out privately and will subsidize the new Estates that have been built next door, where the old residents have moved to. These new buildings seem quite nice and well maintained.

Needless to say, we also found out that public housing system in the UK is complicated. Some estates are owned by the local councils, others by private developers or third party entities that must adhere to a set of rules.  We need to learn more about this dynamic and Gadi hopes to introduce us to a few people that can illuminate on some of these facts. Will post more as we know.

Gadi then took us on a tour of some architectural details that were very surprising and specific to this building.

We spent most of the remaining day looking at flats and wondering the halls and walkways.

We bounced ideas off of each other considering visual and conceptual ways to take this project that excite us both. We brainstormed in the kitchen with tea, our space heater, and post-it notes on the wall.  We’re both totally exhausted but excited about the potential here.

We have a few clear ideas about shots and combinations of things that we want to move forward with. One of these involves the roof of the building opposite our flat. We plan to get access tomorrow!

More Photos:

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