Brutalist Architecture and the Inspiration Behind High-Rise

 Balfron Tower


Balfron Tower was designed by Ernő Goldfinger in 1963 for the London County Council, has long been cited as the inspiration behind J.G Ballard’s book High-Rise.

Much like in the novel, the architect lived in the Balfron tower, frequently throwing champagne parties for the residents, before moving out some short months later.


Image from the High-Rise pamphlet
(Click the image to view full size)

The Balfron was the source of several sounds used in the film High-Rise, including the lift door sounds and the rubbish chute. (Source: High-Rise Sound Designer Martin Pavey)


Early residents of the Balfron spoke favourably of their new lives there, despite the fact that the lifts often broke down, the heating didn’t work, there were no doorbells and the windows were draughty.

Later reports would show that anti-social behaviour, vandalism, leaking pipes and rodent infestation became common.

Source: balfrontower.orgbalfron-(3)

Many consider Balfron Tower the direct inspiration behind High-Rise due to the book’s description of its location near the Thames.

Trellick Tower

Trellick tower, a larger sister building to Balfron Tower, was also designed by Ernő Goldfinger after he listened to the opinions of Balfron residents.

While many consider Balfron Tower to be the inspiration for High-Rise, others have suggested that Ballard would have regularly passed Trellick Tower on his drives along the A40 as he journeyed from the house of his friend Michael Moorcock, back to his home in Shepperton.


The Barbican

Even though it was once voted London’s ugliest building, I found it to be a most wondrous place upon my visit there. I could think of no better place to see High-Rise, and some VFX plates for the film were shot there (Source: Mr Nick Gillespie)

ll-barbican (15) ll-barbican-(6)ll-barbican-(1) ll-barbican-(2)These next two buildings have absolutely nothing to do with High-Rise, but they are considered to be excellent examples of Brutalist Architecture and I very much enjoyed visiting them…

Camden Town Hall Annexecamden-town-hall-(2)camden-town-hall-(1)camden-town-hall-(3) camden-town-hall-(4)

Brunswick Centre
brunswick-centre-(1) brunswick-centre-(2)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.