Mozart Estate

The Problem of Cold Flats and Condensation

There is no room to go into the subject deeply here, but the complaints of cold rooms, black mould, peeling wallpaper, water condensing on walls, etc., were typical of reports up and down the country from tenants living in similar concrete properties. Flat roofs have an estimated life of about fifteen years before they tend to leak. Walls made of concrete panels, or hard brick and hard plaster, are cold, so the warm air in the rooms inside condenses on the cold outside walls.

To prevent this, all rooms must be kept at a temperature high enough to warm the walls and hold back the condensation. If not, mould forms on the cold walls. Electric heating is notoriously expensive so many tenants were forced to resort to paraffin heating, but the end product of burning both paraffin and North Sea gas is water vapour. This vapour is trapped in the rooms and condenses on the walls, making the problem even worse.

In 1979 the Council planned to tackle the dampness by insulating walls and ceilings to keep out the cold and installing night storage heaters. This form of internal insulation is not usually satisfactory as the walls still stay cold and the insulation often breaks down at the room corners. The only really satisfactory method is to clad the whole building with 50 mm of fibreglass and hanging tiles, or cladding panels, so that the walls remain warm. This has been done on many sites in London and elsewhere.

In 1979 a Community Centre was opened in the estate, but in the same year there was a new wave of muggings.

In 1980 Mrs. Jeanette Taike sued Westminster City Council. The Council was found guilty of not keeping her flat up to standard and Mrs. Taike won a place in the old Queen's Park cottages which were far more popular than the 1960's buildings.

An 'A' Block in the Harrow Road Estate


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Updated March 15, 2011