The Trellick Tower is a 32-storey tower block in Kensington
, West London
, visible from trains coming into Paddington
from the West of England
, and also for several miles around, including Notting Hill
. It was designed in the late 1960s by the late architect Erno Goldfinger
(after whom Ian Fleming
named the Bond villain
), and takes the form of a large beige rectangle (the 'habitation module') with a smaller beige rectangle (the 'elevator module') attached to one of the sides by a series of small walkways. The tower was completed in 1972 at a cost of £2.4 million pounds and was intended to replace ageing council estates. It contains 175 flats, and it was not the most attractive building in the world. Goldfinger had earlier used a similar design for the Balfron tower
The tower was greatly reviled both as a landmark throughout the first two decades of its life, supposedly inspiring J G Ballard to write 'High Rise'. It was notoriously grim, suffering from constant vandalism, broken elevators, damp, and burst pipes. Towering over the surrounding area, it was a constant reminder of the evils of naive, poorly-funded social housing projects. By 1972 high-rise buildings were fast moving out of fashion, helped in part by the Ronan Point disaster of 1964, in which a shoddily-constructed tower block had partially collapsed following a gas explosion. A mixture of economic mismanagement and the oil crisis had caused the Greater London Council, which ran the tower, to fall massively in debt, and despite memorable posters the council - riven by internal conflict between different left-wing factions - produced few actual improvements.
Nonetheless, by the mid 1980s the tower had improved, thanks to several injections of cash from the government, and it eventually became a listed building. It is now firmly middle-class, with individual flats selling for £180,000 and up.