Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Edinburgh's 'Banana flats' awarded Category A listing

Cables Wynd House Image copyright Santiago Arribas Pena
Image caption Cables Wynd House is known as the banana flats due to its distinctive curved shape

A block of flats in Edinburgh made famous by the novel Trainspotting have been awarded Category A listed status.

The curving "Banana flats" in Leith were home to Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson in Irvine Welsh's book.

Cables Wynd House was built in the 1960s in the "Brutalist" architectural style.

Historic Environment Scotland said it had decided to recognise the flats and neighbouring Linksview House after consultation with residents.

Edinburgh City Council, who own some of the flats, were also consulted.

Category A means they are of national or international importance.

Historic Environment Scotland said, after World War Two, Scottish cities began an ambitious building programme to improve living conditions and health standards in Scotland.

The first housing was "basic, high-density accommodation", built at minimal cost, whereas blocks like Cables Wynd House and Linksview House represented a new way of thinking.

Image copyright Santiago Arribas Pena
Image caption Cables Wynd House was the home to Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting novel
Image copyright Historic Environment Scotland
Image caption Linksview House has also been awarded Category A status

Dawn McDowell, from Historic Environment Scotland, said: "In the early 1960s a new, higher quality, and more holistic approach to housing schemes was being pioneered, inspired by housing schemes in France - which aimed to create not just houses but communities.

"Cables Wynd House and Linksview are amongst the best examples of these schemes, with their use of external access decks as a way of recreating the civic spirit of traditional tenemented streets, and the inclusion of modern features like lifts and heated flooring helping to lift living standards for the residents.

"Cables Wynd was the largest block of flats in Edinburgh at the time, and possibly the most accomplished architecturally, characterising the 'New Brutalism' in building, which laid bare the essential materials of a building's construction, using reinforced and in situ concrete."

The two blocks become the 50th and 51st buildings built after World War Two to be recognised with a Category A listing, joining structures like the Forth Road Bridge, St Peters' Seminary in Cardross and The Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh.

'International excellence'

Cables Wynd House was made famous for its part in Welsh's Trainspotting where it featured as the childhood home of the character, Sick Boy.

Prof Miles Glendinning, director of the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies, said the two blocks combined "international excellence in modernist urban design with an attention to the spirit of place".

"Edinburgh's post-war multi storey social housing redevelopments were designed to fit into small, highly constrained sites. I believe that Cables Wynd House in particular, was built in its distinctive curved shape as a creative solution to the constraints of that particular site," he said.

"Along with Linksview House, it represents an outstanding synthesis of international modernist architecture with Geddes's 'conservative surgery' principles."

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