Mark Fraser: Day One Hundred and Fifteen – The High Rise Down Fall

Posted on April 25, 2011 by


Brutalism in Disguise by The Justified Sinner on Flickr

The Highrise Demise

The clouds were my domain.
Tall, gray and decorating the skyline
Together with my kin,
We defined a generation,
A city,
A nation.

Our Brutalist sign of post war progress
Quickly became a concrete symbol
Of futuristic nihilism.
Square tower blocks,
Fifteen, twenty, thirty stories high
Bore a class in which poverty thrived.

In the years since my construction
I have seen all that humanity has to offer
Good and bad.
Inside my stone foundations
Were all manner of connotations:
Birth and death, joy and despair
But never a sense of happiness that remained,
Except my own.

Unlike the tenements of yesterday
We constructed floor upon floor
With the explicit intent of keeping the undesirables out.
The crime was kept local with these streets in the sky,
Psychological consequences be damned!
If these corridors didn’t get you,
Often the clientele did.

I was aching from within.
Inside, steel was corroding,
Complete with concrete spalling, there was damp setting in.
Outside, a once white finish dulled by smog
And no real way to remedy
Twenty stories of architectural pain.
Nothing was reliable;
There were numerous residents, but none kept me clean,
Lifts were essential, but hardly pristine,
Every night someone was screaming,
Yet I still longed to be needed.

It is perhaps a sign of backwards progress
That the high rises flats,
So oppressive, lawless and cold,
Were to be banished to the old
Only to return in a fresh, 21st century guise
For young bureaucrats and professionals.
High rise suburban living
Becomes sky high city living;
A sign of the social landscape repeating itself.

So this is my story –
In the 60s I was thrown up, an attraction to all,
With a severe futuristic pride, populated by wonder.
In the 70s the faults of my brethren and I became all too clear,
When the futuristic longing morphed into brutality it became less sincere.
In the 80s Thatcher came, and the working class did not rise,
And I watched as broken windows met broken hearts.
In the 90s there was a drugs boom and a lick of paint,
But by then I was gone, rotting from within.
In the 00s my days were numbered
As occupants left me in a state of existential disrepair.
Now, in the 2010s my time is up.

A flash, a bang and down I came.
(With a wimper)
No windows left for youths to break,
Just walls that shake and bones that ache.
In my final moments I became transparent again
Much like during my construction
With my swift demise goes a generation of living,
Glasgow’s skyline plummets
Not unlike
A stone heart in a concrete suit.

Posted in: Mark Fraser