Each pair of houses is really built around the massive chimney. You can see it as shaded boxes on the left in the diagram in the center of the page, although these boxes underestimate the real size of the chimney-breasts:
Our house has this arrangement except a former owner removed the chimney stack at the back to get more space in the back rooms. When we moved in the chimney stack, weighing perhaps 10 tons, was resting on a piece of wood on the wooden ceiling joists - it's one of the things we have since fixed at great expense.
When you're in London and you see a building with chimneys you can tell two things: (1) It was built before 1960. (2) Count the chimney pots and it will tell you how many internal rooms there are, since each room will have its own fireplace, flue and chimney pot. eg: https://stockarch.com/images/buildings/urban/rooftops-chimne...
Knocking through on an L shaped terrace, to the kitchen, gives a little more room, but I for one hate the smell of cooking food escaping from the confines of a kitchen. The mass also wicks sound.
The manufacturer is London Fog, and their brand is supposed to conjure an image of sophistication by association with a romantic ideal of London. But the reference they are making is actually, at least somewhat, a reference to a euphemism for pollution.
The floorplan shown is not a typical UK Victorian two up, two down. It's a three up, three down, sometimes called by estate agents an extended two up, two down. Count the rooms, it's not difficult. It's clearly heavily influenced by the 2+2. :)
The only point he gets it right is in the caption under the photo further on down the article:
Note that the houses in the foreground are built along more generous lines than those at the back, with bow windows on both floors and an extra room built above the projecting ground-floor kitchen
Yes, three up, three down, or as the the aerial photo two up, two down, with attached kitchen/bathroom. More like the shown floorplan to allow an extra third room on each floor, one of which being the then new innovation of indoor bathroom/toilet.
A two up, two down has a feature that the rooms are the full width of the house: reception, with kitchen in back -- one of those two has the stairs within it, the second floor has two bedrooms and a "landing" that's often just the width of the stair treads and two doors at the top. The toilet is outside by the coal house, and the bath was tin, hung up in the kitchen when not used, often under the stairs. They have often gained a 20th century replan or rear extension to permit the indoor bathroom/toilet, and frequently larger or separate kitchen underneath -- though many have kitchen and bathroom in a single ground floor extension.
Nowt else is a two up, two down, they're relatives, derivatives. Many mid Victorian 2+2 terraces came with colossal garden plots - 150-300 foot long, giving loads of scope for later indoor bathrooms, kitchens, and garages -- sometimes double length at the far end.
Sure, the indoor bathroom/toilet was added later as it was a Victorian era innovation, but the second room on the ground floor was generally a back kitchen/diner. So you'll find a great many with a later kitchen extension (frequently flat roofed, and incredibly poorly, or not insulated) that permit separating kitchen and dining room, often adding an upstairs indoor bathroom/toilet for the first time. When those extra rooms were there from new build they weren't called 2+2s -- though they were clearly two bed houses derived from them.
UK estate agent standard for describing housing is number of bedrooms. Apparently we're meant to figure everything else from "two bed", "five bed". What else is in there is often quite varied and ludicrously (fraudulently) creative in estate agent blurb. Thank heavens for the relatively recent expectation of a floorplan and regulation limiting estate agent creativity. Until the 1980s or 1990s you almost never got a floorplan unless buying new, or exceptionally upmarket. :)
More space, higher density. Win, win.
The worst thing about all of this is that the irresponsible borrowers have in many cases come out on top. People earn more from their house than they do by going to work.
This more than anything made realize that the UK has a broken system, and hard work and talent don't really pay off. Most people who are wealthy in UK either had dumb luck (e.g. those who are able to retire off of their house values despite anything else they did in life), or cheated the system somehow (tax evasion/avoidance, unfair laws that benefit the few, etc.).
The rest of us suffer under oppressive income taxes and punitive walls (the standard allowance reduction, lack of joint tax burden for families), that make it very hard to ever climb out of the gutter.
I've wondered before whether the IR35 tax rules were introduced because
too many common folk were making good money in IT, whereas your average posho is more likely to be in politics, law, City etc. Can't have the plebs getting ideas above their station!
While this does impact the common-or-garden IT contractor, it protects the ‘self employed’ nursery worker as well.
Many companies, including the government, employ contractors when they ought to be employing employees on fixed contracts. Once you start factoring umbrella companies, limited companies and all the employer liability, unless you’re really expensive there’s not a great deal of benefit to be had these days.
NB I don't know it would be economically feasible to replicate the New Town - but it does demonstrate to me that if you get the layout and quality right then people will happily live in an environment like that.
The 1960s high rises were trying to build vertical communities but failed vertical separation seems to matter and it was just too dense. Ironically I think the reason why the new multi-million pound high rise apartments are popular today is because of their seperation from the community.
It is perfectly possible to build good flats.
Compared to most European cities, London has very few good quality apartment buildings. British people see this, and conclude that they're not possible.
Some older (1930s etc), good quality buildings exist in London, and newer "luxury" ones. I used to live in one, and it was very nice — no garden I needed to maintain, no space wasted by an individual heating system (and nothing for me to maintain). It was in a medium-wealthy area, with a price to match.
I wouldn’t even call it owning a property, when you are obliged to pay £200+ in rent and charges, £100+ in council tax, etc. in perpetuity.
The key point seems to be that although these flats were originally undesirable social housing, their spacious, unspecific layouts + somewhat reduced density from WW2 bombing allowed the transformation to the opposite: Expensive gentrified housing in very high demand.
>The workers' houses were primarily intended for port workers, who found their work in the nearby ports. [...]
>The most famous buildings in the Spaarndammerbuurt are the workers' houses designed by Michel de Klerk in the style of the Amsterdam School, located at the Spaarndammerplantsoen. Three blocks designed by him were erected here in the 1920s. The most striking design is 'Het Schip', located along the Zaanstraat. The houses were 'palaces for the workers'. Never before had so much care been given to the design of workers' houses. A post office was also part of the block. After the post office in 2000 had closed its doors, has been here since 2001 , the Museum Ship located. Other striking architecture came in the 1920s by KPC de Bazel at Zaandammerplein and by HJM Walenkamp at Zaanhof.
>Since his assignment for a block of labor residences on Johannes Vermeerplein, his name would remain associated with public housing. His most famous work is Het Schip, a complex workers' housing in the Spaarndammerbuurt in Amsterdam, built for the Eigen Haard housing association. Together with Kramer, De Klerk also designed a large complex for the social-democratic General Workers' Cooperative De Dageraad on PL Takstraat, also in Amsterdam. Klerk's socialist views have undoubtedly played a role in obtaining these assignments.
>Treasures of social housing: tour (walking, Spaarndammerbuurt) - Museum Het Schip
>Join us on a tour of the Spaarndammerbuurt, the revolutionary neighbourhood that stands as a living and breathing, architecturally fascinating relic to the Netherlands’ incredibly forward-thinking social housing drive of the early 20th century. A walk through the area will illustrate a combination of the subtly intricate designs of the Amsterdam School’s architecture and the socially progressive, ambitious goals of Dutch social housing. Stops along the way will convey some of the fascinating features, such as the Amsterdam School architecture of Michel de Klerk, the palatial courtyards of the Zaanhof, and the thriving community spaces of the Zaandammerplein.
The gardens at Het Schip:
Because millions and millions of people live in nice flats all over the world. Just look across the channel: In France there are plenty of nice flats and most newly developed flats there put what exists in the UK to shame.
Your comment somewhat illustrates my point about the negative perception of flats in the UK, and the strange idea that the horrible estates of the 1960s are the only way to build flats.
Personally I would like to live in a detached house though. I currently live in a flat, but I'd like to have a garden.
I know of course that with the amount of space existing, and the need for people to live in cities, a detached house with a garden is for the few only that can afford it.
Granted I would hate living in a place where you don't have any green as well. I don't get the factors that pull people into the city beside job opportunities.
In the past cities were cultural centers without alternatives, but that fundamentally changed with modern information logistics and individual transport.
I am still living in a city but most people leave at one point in their lives and I plan to do the same. The often proclaimed mega cities of the future sound rather outdated already.
As a counter-anecdote, I would hate having to live on the ground floor. I would constantly worry about thieves breaking into the apartment through some cracked-open window.
It's quite different to what I'm used to from Ireland, where the kitchen is the second social space of the home after the sitting room, and often contains the dining table.
The 1960s especially saw a lot of terraced houses put a small kitchen out back so they could knock through the 2 rooms downstairs and remove the old ceilings and fireplaces. In the 2000s those properties that didn't modernise in the 60s now fetch the higher prices.
Small windows were a result of the window tax.
That cottage was cool in summer and cold in winter and damp all year around, walls made from stone and mortar over 1 metre thick, originally with a thatch roof but since replaced with tile after a fire. The economy that built those cottages was basically subsistence living, hardly a structure built with surplus to make different choices.
Leasehold, which is the dominant model for apartments, gives that control to the owner of the whole building. This is basically a recipe for nasty surprises.
The average English person isn’t a law expert. But they know someone with a flat, and that they’re constantly complaining about their landlord.
Would recommend this book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_Buildings_Learn
One reason many couples move out of London when they have children is that it is impossible for most to afford such a house in London.
This also makes housing quite low density, which leads to longer commute and more expensive public transport.
People are understandably frightened of situations like this:
I think you're thinking of the other UK, the imaginary one that right-wing commentators make out to be a hellish nightmare of bad teeth inflicted upon the populace by fiendishly free health care. Instead of the real UK, with it's right-wing, capitalist, free-market friendly, populist government.
Building regulations aren't in any way socialist, they are pretty much global and many countries, including the "freedom" loving USA, have extensive government-mandated building codes which include height restrictions or mechanisms to limit height.
The UK however has a pretty interventionist state. (But yes, they are less interventionist than eg the French. Low bar, though.) And eg re-nationalising the railways is perennial popular with the population. Luckily, no government has been crazy enough to do it, nor has it even featured much in election campaigns.
With your corrections, it does move Britain a bit more into the interventionist state direction.
Some early 20th century (and some earlier) housing in my UK city is 3 or 4 storeys. Many of the newer buildings are 4 storey, a few tower blocks (60s/70s).
But if you read through The London Plan  policy 7.6 says: "Buildings and structures should [...] not cause unacceptable harm to the amenity of surrounding land and buildings, particularly residential buildings, in relation to privacy, overshadowing, wind and microclimate. This is particularly important for tall buildings"
So if you're filling in a gap in a Victorian terrace, planning officers will be checking whether you're going to be able to see into your neighbours' gardens more than existing buildings can, or cast shadows onto other homes.
Meanwhile, policy 7.7 calls for "tall and large" buildings to "generally be limited to sites in the Central Activity Zone, opportunity areas, areas of intensification or town centres that have good access to public transport" and to "only be considered in areas whose character would not be affected adversely by the scale, mass or bulk of a tall or large building"
And as some sources describe a tall building as "1½ times or more the height of their context"  tall building rules are easily activated in a two-storey area.
Of course, it's not completely restrictive - if an existing Victorian terrace has two-storey buildings with lofts, I've seen people get permission for a building with a basement, three above-ground stories and a flat roof - and if it's a house rather than a block of flats, that's a lot of stairs already.
This is explicitly not socialism.
Yes because building density regulations are one of the hallmarks of socialism.
I guess you've never heard of bunk beds?
"We" clearly do.
[I'm also in UK, fwiw]
The article itself mentions that mandates themselves made the low density configuration persist.
There needs to be a change of perception, expectations, and better flats.
Developers would far rather build a couple of "Exclusive Modern Mansions" rather than two blocks of four three bedroom flats. They make more money, but create far less value.
If the market structure doesn't allow reaping profit proportional to the value you create, the less profitable thing doesn't get done, even if it creates more value for society. It's a market failure.
The implications of that for progressive personal income taxation are left as an exercise for the reader. They're usually not explored for ideological reasons.
I don't think there are any. An individual doesn't get to choose between a high tax job and a low tax job. The only way to get more money in your pockets is to get paid more money, regardless of whether you're taxed at 15% or 50%.
Thus we ought to massively increase taxation on the highest earners in order to rebalance our economy.
Sure, I agree with you on that. You have to consider the effects on an additional unit of effort put in at that job. Progressive taxation sets up steeply diminishing returns on that marginal effort. And incentives to spend that effort on alternatives with better returns, like shopping for tax-sheltered investments. Because a salary's not the only income professionals have. So you can effectively make tradeoffs between revenue streams with different tax rates, one of which happens to be your job.
This clearly disincentivizes creating additional value for society through an additional unit of effort at that job, and it's a result of market structure.
And it's likely that whatever they're doing to get money should simply be counted as income too.
> This clearly disincentivizes creating additional value for society through an additional unit of effort at that job
Whatever they do instead might create less value for society, or it might create more value for society. I have no idea what the average is.
Also we have to look at the opportunity cost. By taxing one person with a huge income more, you can tax dozens of people with lower incomes less. In most cases that's a huge boon for society.
> Progressive taxation sets up steeply diminishing returns on that marginal effort.
Steeply? Bah. When you're talking about millions of dollars, removing 37 percent (or 50 or 70) still leaves an enormous incentive.
The thing that actually causes significant diminishing returns is that every dollar you earn benefits your life less than the previous dollar.
I never meant millions of dollars. This argument applies to middle class incomes too.
They're nice houses. The main issue is that most now have to have an extension on the back to house an indoor bathroom. In my house, it was ground floor after the kitchen. In my wife's it was upstairs above a kitchen extension, but you could only get to it after going through the main bedroom. Handy as an en-suite, awkward if you had friends to stay.
I don't think low-density has to even be that bad. Dumping the inner/town city road network would be a huge boon, freeing that space for green leafy walk/cycle/scooter/ways and parks.