Hands up who lives in, or has lived in, a block of flats! I have lived in flats since the age of 12 - for many of us they are the most affordable type of housing. With a growing global population that is expected to rise from 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion by 2050 - yikes! New homes will have to be built to house all of our future generations.
In the UK alone the Government estimates that there are 2.75m private leasehold flats in England - this is about an eighth of all dwellings.
When Deacon Insurance who specialise in insuring blocks of flats told us 10 weird and wonderful facts all about the humble flat - I thought it would be interesting to share them with you all, so here goes:
Romans built the first flats
Now, I didn't know this but since the middle of the first century BC, Rome’s success led to a huge growth in the population. Housing was needed so the Roman's started to build skywards. Their early multi-storey blocks, which usually had shops on the ground floor with apartments above, were called insula or "islands".
This sounds idyllic to me! In the heart of Milan a vertical forest of flats has been created. More than 20,000 trees and plants embellish the high-rise buildings from top to bottom and it looks totally beautiful.
Frozen in time
Over 80 years ago, back in 1934 a famous actress called Marthe de Florian fled her Paris apartment for the south of France – and she never went back. The owner of the building never even noticed and when he finally died in 2010, the experts came in to assess the value of his estate and came across the untouched apartment, just like a scene frozen in time.
Set for 2020, the world’s first shape shifting rotating tower block! Seriously, where else would this be but Dubai!
Recycling the old
Some of our cities oldest and much loved buildings are being spared demolition and being turned into flats, preserving the original character of the buildings. Some examples in London are the BBC Television Centre, Battersea Power Station and the Hoover Building.
How would you feel about a train coming through your building? In the Chinese city of Chongqing the train line goes straight through the centre of a block of apartments!
Tallest, Smallest, Largest
The world's tallest skyscraper is currently the Burj Khalifa in Dubai standing at an impressive 72 metres high. But not for long, in 2020 the 1000 metre mile high Jeddah Tower Saudi Arabia, will beat that. In the Chinese city of Wuhan they have built tiny two bedroom apartments, at just 50 square feet it might be a tight squeeze! The largest building by far is The Copan Building in São Paulo, it is 38-storeys high with over 1,160 individual apartments and it is home to over 5,000 people!
Going underground and underwater?
Seriously, why build up when you could build down! I didn't know this but in 2011 a 35 storey upside-down pyramid or "Earthscraper" for Mexico City was planned but the concept is still on the drawing board. An underwater city, Aequorea, has also been proposed, that would be built off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Whatever next?!
London actually ranks second in the world for the highest cost of a city centre flat , Hong Kong ranking first. You would actually need to earn a staggering £7090 a month to live a comfortable life in London (ouch). Oxford, Edinburgh and Brighton came next at around £5000 a month. The UK's most expensive flat, One Hyde Park, London was valued in October 2018 at £160 million. I don't think I'll be moving in any time soon.
The legacy of feudalism
One of my bugbears about being a leaseholder of our flat is the service charges, they get higher every year, and it is still possible to lose your flat and be left with nothing if you break the terms of the lease or don’t pay service charges. A scary thought. The feudal system came about after the Norman Conquest with the rights to grant leases in land and to take income from these. 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! Confusing eh?
So there you have it some interesting facts about the humble flats that so many of us call home.
*this is a collaborative post*