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Rusty Dovecot

Despite having moved out of Dovecot Towers ages ago, I remain fascinated by this phenomenon. Dovecots (twat-flats, euroboxes, yuppiedromes, call them what you will) are everywhere, and with the recovery in sight (supposedly) soon it will be construction time again. I am about to study some of the worst aspects of these balsa wood and tin foil monstrosities, and have located a suitable case for treatment just up the road from me.

I can see that bits are actually falling off – random parts, like the tops of drain pipes, spouts, and the wooden cladding so beloved of those who wish to make a bog-standard dovecot resemble a beloved construction that’s been wonderfully designed and styled with devotion, rather than a cardboard box, sandblasted with plaster and dumped somewhere, or some concrete spewed out and chipped at.

And it’s rusting. There are long red streaks of iron oxide running down the sides. Now it looks as if the building itself is weeping tears of blood.

Like most Dovecots, the developers shaved off any extras, but kept some little ‘niceties’ outside, just enough to stop it looking quite so run down (or bleak) and were even aiming for a block of flats bordering on the fancy side. These marvellous embellishments take the form of some random splashes of paint,
and a sort of weird metal cladding on the balconies.

Everything else looks cheap and sad. The external paint is peeling (and considering the rainfall around here, you’d hope that the external weather protection was thick and of the best quality.) I wonder what else is decaying inside, because that bock is dying from the bottom up.

The real give way that things are not well in this sickest of buildings is the amount for ‘For Rent’ signs outside. I bet the landlords bought off-plan, and never thought to enquire about the specifications for the ‘finish.’ It sounds so boring – all that talk of paint, and plaster, and things a landlord will never see. Unfortunately, such things are vital: they dictate how long a building endures, and inexperienced newbie landlords are beguiled by the show flats, and talk of profit. They don’t care about water-proofing, and are beguiled by shallow flourishes aimed at indicating finesse.

The building in question is also dotted with that other tell-tale sign: wooden panels nailed on shoddily at random, which in places is hanging off. If they couldn’t bothered to make the place look completed from the outside, it makes me wonder what else they omitted: how many layers of water proofing? Or how many layers of plaster? Or screws, or solid foundations….coats of paint, solid metal screws, and necessities like that. Yes, I know that the building inspectors call, but something’s going wrong somewhere.

In 1967 Ronan Point, a new council block in London collapsed after a gas explosion, killing four people. I hope I am wrong, but I wonder how long it will be before a newbuild dovecot crashes to the ground, or slips slowly into the oblivion bequeathed by it’s quicksand foundations, taking the residents with it, to their doom.


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