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Of course the UK's depressing tower blocks are getting a digital archive

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Where would we be without digital archives? Not playing old MS-DOS games and browsing defunct GeoCities Labyrinth fan sites while we should be working, that's where. And while some institutions are busying themselves preserving such things as classic literature, one is embarking on a far more important task: building a fully searchable image archive of all the UK's miserable concrete housing blocks. The "Tower Blocks - Our Blocks!" project is the brainchild of social and architectural historians at the Edinburgh College of Art, because how else would you manage to snag over £50,000 in Heritage Lottery funding to scan pics of ugly buildings if it didn't have something to do with art? That money will be put towards digitizing 3,500 old photos of high-rises, some of which have long been demolished, and "support local outreach initiatives" to get residents to tell of their experiences within these concrete melting pots.

As tower blocks are pulled down to make way for newer, prettier developments, so we lose landmarks of the UK's post-war construction fetish. And that kinda sucks because it leaves the historical aspect "obscured or incomprehensible to the public at a time when popular interest in post-war Modernist heritage is sharply increasing." The digital archive is expected to "help restore high flats' beleaguered reputation," but however passionately those behind the project feel about depressing tower blocks, we still don't quite get it. Perhaps we'll change our tune, however, when we get to browse the publicly accessible archive upon its expected completion in late 2017.

[Image credit: Edinburgh College of Art]

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