Wednesday 19 December 2018


Flats already account for a high proportion of homes in the UK. My first home was actually a flat , at the age of 17 I moved out into a flat and I absolutely loved it !.It was primarily a block of flats with people with children so we had a lovely little friendly community and I stayed there for quite a few years.

 The Government estimates  that there are around 2.75m private leasehold flats in England – about an eighth of all dwellings – and this figure doesn’t include Scotland and Wales.
So when the blocks of flats insurance specialist Deacon Insurance told me 10 weird and wonderful things about flats past, present and future, I thought I would share them with you and would love to know which one is your favourite! :)


Now this one would be my dream flat! At two apartment buildings in the heart of Milan, trees sway on balconies and sunshine dapples the leaves of thousands of plants creating a vertical forest!  how amazing.

The brainchild of Milanese architect Stefano Boeri, the Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) uses more than 20,000 trees and plants to adorn the high-rise buildings from top to bottom – a project now being exported all over the world, from China to the Netherlands.   Few people would deny that trees are good for cities and the people that live in them .


I bet you didn’t know it was actually the Romans who built the first flats!  From the middle of the first century BC, Rome’s success led to massive population growth. 

 Housing was a major challenge, so the Romans learnt to build higher and stronger structures to outcome this problem.  The use of concrete, based on lime and volcanic sand, allowed them to create new architectural forms, while the brick allowed for speedy and reliable construction.  Their early multi-storey blocks, typically with shops on the ground floor, and apartments on two or more floors above, were called insula or "islands". This was because they often occupied an entire city block, with roads flowing around like the sea.


  In 1934 and before the outbreak of hostilities of WWII, a famous actress called Marthe de Florian fled her Paris apartment in France – and she actually never returned. unbeknown to the owner of the building, 

So when she passed away in 2010, the experts came to assess the value of his estate, and found a scene that was frozen in time.  The flat was just as it had been left, untouched by time! Hard to believe isn’t it! This kind of story would make an amazing book!


Some of the biggest re-cycling projects of the millennium are taking place in our inner cities, where familiar buildings are being saved from demolition or neglect by being converted into flats. I’ve actually seen quite a lot of this on social media recently and it’s becoming very popular!

 That’s probably good news as it means the original character and features of what are often landmark buildings are preserved. The BBC Television Centre at White City is one example, as is Battersea Power Station and the Hoover Building in London.  The first residential tower block in the UK, "The Lawn", was constructed in Harlow, Essex in 1951.  It too is now a Grade II listed building.  Conversions are taking place across the country and there seems to be no shortage of buyers for urban loft apartments in prime city centre locations.


Shape shifting flats? yes it does sound look a sci fi movie doesn't it?, but the world’s first shape shifting rotating tower block is set for Dubai by 2020 according to architectural firm Dynamic Group. I can  imagine this will definitely be the height of all news when it does happen .


Dubai’s famous Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest skyscraper in the world standing at 72 metres high, but that is set to change. Scott has actually seen this ,not all of it of course! :), but he says it looks incredible!.

  In 2020 the 1000 metre mile high Jeddah Tower, with serviced apartments, is set to claim the prize of being the world’s tallest building, for a while anyway.    While in the Chinese city of Wuhan, with serious concerns of overpopulation looming, they've gone tiny.  The city has built two person apartments that are only 50 square feet!  But when it comes to the largest, then first prize has to go to The Copan Building in São Paulo, familiar to Sim City players as a building they can drop in.

  The 38-story residential building comprises over 1,160 apartment units and is home to more than and 5,000 residents! At least you know someone’s going to have some milk and sugar for tea when you run out ! :) 


This sounds pretty cool- although I reckon it could become quite annoying too :) !. So these Chinese planners didn’t let a little thing like a railway get in the way of the need to build more flats in the emerging mega-city of Chongqing. The train line simply goes straight through the residential building! 


This sounds scary to me!, but architects are looking seriously at the possibilities of building down rather than up!  As long ago as 2011 a so-called Earthscraper for Mexico City was mooted, a 35-storey upside down pyramid.  The idea is still in the air, with a host of practical and structural challenges to overcome, and the Mexico City proposal is still the only plan to have been seriously put forward.  And with 70% of the earth’s surface covered by water. Aequorea, a visionary city that would be built off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, has been proposed.


I am originally from London , so It’s no surprise to me that London ranks No.2 in the world for the highest cost of a city centre flat , second only to Hong Kong, but how does the cost of living vary within the UK?  MSN Money took a look at the different costs of living in UK cities, with housing the major component. Not surprisingly London came out top, where you need £7090 a month to live a comfortable life.

 Oxford, Edinburgh and Brighton were next at around £5000 a month. What i would do if i had that kind of money! :)  Southampton costs about £3000 a month, for example, although after years of rail strikes and woes, that could be cold comfort.  The UK's most expensive flat was valued in October 2018 at £160 million!!


If you break the terms of your contract then your out - people still seemed to be amaze this can happen, but if you don't keep to your end of the deal then this is what happens.That applies no matter how long you’ve been paying your mortgage or service charges.  It has actually become harder for a landlord to get you out of the property and claim their flat back, but it can happen.  Where did such a feudal practice come from?  

Land law in Britain owes much to the feudal system that developed following the Norman Conquest with the rights to grant inferior interests (aka leases) in land and to take income from these.  By the 16th century, the law of leases in England and Wales had morphed into a very confusing system, and an attempt to tackle this was the Law of Property Acts 1925, which limited ownership to either freehold or leasehold, which is pretty much where we are today.  Interestingly, covenants on freehold property only define what you cannot do. On leasehold they can also say what you must do, for example, pay for the upkeep of an asset still ultimately owned by the freeholder!

 In Scotland,its a completely different story! where no duty to pay ‘feu duty’ - the equivalent of ground rent - could be set up after 1974, and no residential lease for more than 20 years could be created.  The feudal structure was finally abolished in Scotland in 2004 and further laws since have converted long leases over 175 years into straightforward ownership

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