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Concrete renovations: the rebirth of 1960s blocks

In a week when the new renovations of Sheffield’s infamous Park Hill estate saw it nominated for the country’s top architecture prize, other renovations of previously written-off buildings have also helped to put the spotlight on the importance of renovation and building skills in the British workforce.

Small armies of builders, plasterers, electricians, glaziers, plumbers and decorators work on the concrete base of the iconic Sheffield estate. At the same time, a similar contingent of skilled tradesmen and women were at work in Salford in Manchester, gutting and renovating the 1960s, 15-storey Black Friar Court.

The renovation of the high-rise building has transformed it from a gloomy, dated edifice into a re-rendered and brightly coloured landmark on the Salford skyline. As well as being aesthetically transformed, the work has permeated the basic functions and technicalities of the building, with a state-of-the-art Eco-Pod solar thermal energy heating system fitted to the roof to drive down its carbon footprint.