Edinburgh team to create visual archive of UK tower blocks

Images of every tower block in the UK are to catalogued into a fully searchable digital archive.

Social and architectural historians from Edinburgh College of Art are behind the project, described as a "Domesday Book" of the UK's post-war reconstruction.

Entitled 'Tower Blocks - Our Blocks!', it will also include images of tower blocks demolished over 30 years ago.

The project is to receive a £52,900 grant of Heritage Lottery funding.

The money will go towards digitising the 3,500 photographs, as well as supporting local outreach initiatives which the team hope will encourage high-rise residents to tell their stories.

Glasgow's Red Road flats and Gorbals housing schemes will be among the multi-storey housing projects on show in the publically accessible digital catalogue.

Other well know high rises to feature in the archive, include the Everton flats in Liverpool, Birmingham's Chelmsley Wood, Manchester's Hulme redevelopment, and London estates such as Broadwater Farm, Thamesmead and Roehampton.

Professor Miles Glendinning, head of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies at Edinburgh College of Art, said: "We hope this project will help contribute to the ongoing shift in public attitudes towards the post-war Modernist housing heritage, which is fast turning from an object of dislike and alienation into a force for potential community empowerment.

"Council tower blocks were once the most prominent and dramatic legacy of the post-1945 reconstruction drive, but mass demolitions over the past 35 years, still continuing today, have depleted this vast heritage, leaving it obscured or incomprehensible to the public at a time when popular interest in post-war Modernist heritage is sharply increasing."

The project is to be completed by late 2017.

Image copyright Miles Glendinning
Image caption Royston B in Glasgow, shown in its partly-demolished state. Photograph taken in 1986.
Image copyright Miles Glendinning
Image caption Block of flats at Hutchesontown B in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. Photograph taken in 1986.
Image copyright PA
Image caption The Red Road schemes in Glasgow,
Image copyright Miles Glendinning
Image caption This series of tower blocks at Avondale Square in Southwark, London are still standing. Photograph taken in 1986.
Image copyright Miles Glendinning.
Image caption These towers, part of the Leith Fort housing project in Edinburgh, were demolished in 1994. Photograph taken in 1985.
Image copyright Miles Glendinning.
Image caption This image captures the demolition of these tower blocks at Niddrie Marischal, Edinburgh in 1992.