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Only bricks and mortar?

Larry Neild on how Anfield's lost terraces are to rise again as London apartments

Published on September 23rd 2010.

Only bricks and mortar?

WHOLE streets of boarded-up houses around Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium are silent reminders of once thriving communities.

The happy shouts of kids playing footy in the streets, some dreaming of being the next Steven Gerrard, are mere echoes of the past.

'These houses, hundreds of them, are boarded up because they want them demolished, yet I have seen the materials – bricks and timber – carefully removed so they can be used in projects such as loft apartments in London. How ironic is that?'

These two-up, two down Coronation Street type homes, are no longer fit to live in; they’re worn out, beyond repair as they wait their appointment with the grim bulldozer.

Families departed amid promises of a better tomorrow, a new Anfield rising like a phoenix from the wasteland the area is fast be coming.

But wait. One man's slum is another man's palace and these crumbling terraces of Anfield have become rich pickings for developers of expensive London loft apartments - with the heritage touch.

Bricks and timbers from these century-old, written-off dwellings are being carefully taken apart to become one of the city's hottest exports.

Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, working in Anfield, has watched as the dismantled parts have been packaged for their journey south and to other parts of the UK where builders are eager to snap up “original” materials for modern homes with a nostalgic touch.

Jeanne looked at the impressive Victorian school building dominating the area. It closed this summer and is itself boarded up.

“I’d love to use materials from the school to use in our Two Up, Two Down project right here in Anfield,” says Jeanne as she eyes its fine features.

Project? Jeanne will be working with a group of local teenagers to help them develop their own buildings over the next two years as part of the Liverpool Biennial.

2010921Story-Img0192Jeanne van Heeswijk 
The end result is likely to be around 10 or 11 new homes, designed by and built by those young people of the Anfield area.

But that still leaves a deficit of 1,390 homes needed to replace the ones sheeted up as part of a “regeneration” project.

On a walk-about in the Anfield streets, it was suggested many of the streets destined to be flattened will be waiting five years or more for their appointment with the demolition people.

Jeanne has built up an international reputation with her innovative and thought-provoking work on socially committed art projects.

“I wouldn’t demolish many of the houses around here. They are potentially good. Some could become habitable today; just imagine giving young people the opportunity to use some of these houses as modern-day lodging houses for football fans coming to the matches. Instead of staying in city centre hotels, they could stay in Anfield,” says Jeanne.

“These houses, hundreds of them, are boarded up because they want them to be demolished, yet I have seen the materials – bricks and timber – carefully removed so they can be used in projects such as loft apartments in London. How ironic is that?”

So what is artistic about showing young people the ropes when it comes to bricklaying and building?

The Anfield scheme will allow the participants to develop skills in urban design architecture and construction methods.

A group of students from Sheffield University will be working on the ambitious project which has a chief aim of allowing the young people to play an active part in making at least a small corner of Anfield a positive place in which to live, work and play.

Jeanne’s work has been exhibited in places such as New York’s PS1 Center for Contemporary Art in New York and the Tokyo City Opera House Gallery. She has taken part in biennials in Taiwan, Korea and Venice. Now she’s on the verge of moving into a vacant house in Anfield to use as a home base while she progresses her project.

The residency is funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Granada Foundation.

All the young subjects selected to participate design and plan their own futuristic homes for Anfield, will they themselves see the irony and perhaps the futility of the homes of their parents ending up 200 miles away in the UK’s capital city.

Paul Kelly, the Biennial’s Housing Market Renewal Manager says the Anfield project is looking at how creative thinkers can influence the time and empty spaces created through regeneration and housing renewal.

“We need to reconnect and re-stimulate communities to come up with their own solutions and persuade local councils to let go and let communities get on with it,” he says.

It’s a two year project and will be fascinating to see what impact the Biennial has on Anfield.

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8 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

E. CowarrierSeptember 21st 2010.

Indeed it is laughable that all these perfectly good homes should be torn down to make posh flats. But you can't argue the green credentials of it!

Len FaircloughSeptember 21st 2010.

Yes you can. The energy invested in the building of a Victorian house is lost when it is destroyed.
The demolition is wasteful in itself and the carbon footprint of transporting all these heavy bricks and timbers two hundred miles to add cosmetic touches to some speculative flats in London must be enormous.

Mary at BiennialSeptember 21st 2010.

Watch this space for upcoming information on this project:

Also, look at the work Liverpool Biennial is doing in other places around Merseyside:


Nomadic ScouserSeptember 21st 2010.

We shipped Scousers out to the likes of Kirkby in the 50s and 60s and ripped the heart out of Liverpool.
We are doing it to Edge Lane, we are doing it to Anfield, lovely little communities destroyed in the name of progress. Will we ever learn the error of our ways. You cannot build communities, they are created over generations.

AnonymousSeptember 22nd 2010.

There was a miserable piece about Anfield on Radio 4 Today this morning. Gave Liverpool the chance to do something it enjoys, washing its dirty linen in public.
Mind you our municipal spin doctors will see it as good publicity as it mentioned the names Liverpool and Anfield shedloads of times.

GeffTSeptember 22nd 2010.

The coverage of Liverpool on the BBC News Nick Robinson report from the Lib dem Conference last night was a brilliant stereotypical view of what the south perceives scousers and the city to be. Looked like a wasteland. Bastards.

AnonymousSeptember 24th 2010.

they might be able be renovated...but NOBODY want to live in them, thats the main reason they are getting cleared, i bet no of you posters would live there??

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