….wild is the wind…creative freedom is the seed….
I lived in the Greenhouse the last 2 years on the Penthouse level.
This is what I honestly think of living there:
The sense of community is very positive. It is a peaceful oasis on the inside when you get through the security doors on every level. The surrounding area is not a great area and in the contrast, you can see the huge socio-economic difference between Greenhouse residences amidst the visible deprivation of the surrounding area. Although local councils made good attempt to beautify the surrounding area to match the overall ethos of the impressive award winning building, there were still regular incidents of petty crimes, theft of bicycles, break into the lower car parks, recent incidents of mugging and weirdly a recurring flasher nearby who appeared every 10-18 months or so to unsuspecting Greenhouse residence!
So that aspects of it detracted from the wonderful tranquil living inside the Greenhouse. Most of the people living there were genuinely sympatico. I sometimes wondered if it was because no matter what country we were from, our life views and circumstances were very similar. I enjoyed the multiculturalism. I liked gardening at the urban allotment with my neighbors from all over the world. The trouble was returning from the urban garden in the summer after certain hours were not very pleasant. So on the one hand it gave Greenhouse residence a reason to meet up for gardening weekends but on the other hand, news of the shed in our allotment plot being burnt down was not very nice!
I did think about the times when caterers were brought into the allotment on one of the “gardening days”. Sometimes I wondered if more efforts could be put to invite everyone from the local area to such “gentrified” activities.
The disparity was a social reality we all lived with. People were really genuine and pleasant to have as neighbors. It was the kind of place where if I lost my key, there were not just one but several neighbors who would go out of their way to try to put me up for the night until I could ring Jimmy, the friendly onsite concierge the next morning to be let back into my apartment. For that I loved the place! I also loved that I was invited to my neighbor’s hen’s night as a last minute impromptu thing because she didn’t realise I was home for 2 months!
We had many “ginger cat drinking sessions and bbq” in the courtyards over the summer. That was wonderful. My cat became a mascot, so much so there was an attempt to vote Haymitch onto the Residence committee as a joke!
There was wonderful sense of daily aesthetics that came with the living space itself. I suspect the background training of the previous manager from Chelsea Design school may have something to do with it. He was what also made things sympatico to live there. That, and he set out to create a top floor of “interesting characters”. We were indeed. Odd things happened on the Penthouse level. We met regularly for things like “Midnight Bellinis” and had many strange discussion about Bread Baking (not because we did it but because one of the neighbor was some kind of Irish gourmet Bread baking award champion!) …that was strange but fun!
Over the two years, I also saw the death of Donut the hamster which resulted in a “spiritual seance” in the communal courtyard. Let’s just say the book “Pet cemetary” came to mind. Anyway, the cremation was properly handled by professional dead pet disposal personnels! A few incense were lit! Don’t be a neo-fascist reactionary! 🙂
The Freecycle was just wonderful. It embodied a generous spirit of sharing. I can honestly say I gave as much into it as I took and many of us, saved lots of money by being willing to recycle our furniture, kitchenware, bric-a-bracs, toys, musical instrument. You name it! I found lots of things down there and had also put some interesting art equipment down there too! I love it!
I remembered fondly the Christmas party of 2013 and the New Years Sky Bar Party of 2014.
I thank all the neighbors who took turns in checking on my pet while I was away.
I think of those who taught my cat the joys of Sushi from the Sushi boy class in the Greenspace. My cat’s diet never returned to normal after being hand fed home-made sushi.
But I will not miss the constant breaking down of the elevator, nor the Saturday mess left by party animals and the rumours of people roller blading in the corridor was REAL! Do not pretend it didn’t happen, because we know it did!
Food at the Deli was convenient but the trouble was the Deli kept opening and closing and opening and closing. However the latest guy Gaz seemed like a lovely fellow and he made me some yummy breakfast before I moved out. Goodluck Gaz!
I wished I could tell you how great the gym was but I only used it a dozen times late at night because I am not the most disciplined of gym goer in the world. 🙂
If you decide to use mini-cabs, I recommend the one with the fixed rate. There are 3 firms: Beetson, Gee Gee and A1 that are way more economical than the generic cab companies!
I caught the bus every so often but they kept bringing the prices up to the point where in fact, it is not worth it to catch the bus if you can find another person to share a cab! So yeah, I used a lot of mini-cabs because parking inside the city center was a bum fight of overpriced car parking spots and evil meter maids. We gave up on that after an £80 fine for being 10mins late to feed the parking meter. Basterds!
Everything was really convenient. Our amenities varied between £15-£124 (the £124 was us doing someting careless with our energy consumption) all in for heating, electricity and water was brilliant! The idea of it all being green and renewable made me smug just thinking about it! 🙂
In the last 2 months of my stay, free WIFI internet became available so suddenly there was no need to even have a broadband contract! Yay!
Overall the experience was net positive even though there were extreme incidents of frustration with our landlord’s management style….for example it took 18 months to fix our mouldy benchtops that we reported from the first inventory and 2 years down the line, our window still leaked water during heavy storms despite repeated promise to fix it.
If you are moving out, be aware there will be attempts to make you pay for things that would otherwise be just “normal wear and tear”, so know your tenancy rights and don’t let any abrasive emails make you surrender your rights. So just be aware that while it is a very nice community, landlords are always going to look out for their interest and avoid repairs whenever possible.
But luckily overall, the building was so well done there were very few repairs that detracted from the overall feeling of Green sustainable living in the place.
So I would say it is still worthwhile to live there for a short time and experience the feeling of an eco-sustainable Green community.
One really lovely thing my neighbors said to me was, “We are so sad you are leaving. There will always be a place for you in the hearts of the Greenhouse.”
Thank you and I hope I will be back again should life bring me back to Leeds. Love to all of you.
This is what was said about it in the BBC
These are some excerpts from some articles about it in the Media:
The unique Greenhouse development offers a really impressive living environment that combines amazing eco credentials with state of the art technology. To name just some of the sustainable features incorporated into this striking building: there are wind turbines on the roof, solar panels, ground source heating, and allocated allotments nearby. And all this noble talk of sustainability doesn’t mean you have to forgo the luxuries; among the various community-focused, yet still indulgent, amenities on offer is an on-site gym (just £35 to join then free to use for the remainder of your time at Greenhouse), landscaped gardens, a deli – which, brilliantly, even delivers meals to your apartment, such as a full English breakfast for just £4.95 – and even a vintage bike club.
In your apartment itself, at the flick of a switch you can view a TV channel that provides up-to-the-minute information about your gas and electricity usage (it’s said you could save around £600 a year on your utility bills here), along with real time departure information for the number 1 bus that stops just metres away from the development. Supreme convenience at the touch of a button.
This impressive property is a three-bedroom apartment boasting two bathrooms and a large living room, altogether providing a spacious, relaxing haven that’s just minutes from the vibrant centre of the city. Not to mention you also have the option of secure parking for just £35 a month, an on-site caretaker, the most inexpensive council tax band, fibre optic wireless internet in all apartments… the list goes on.
In a nutshell, this place makes the ideal of sustainable living into a reality and is a truly distinctive offering for the city of Leeds.
Eat and drink: Being close to the southern edge of the city centre, you have all the wonders of Holbeck Urban Village just minutes away – which includes superb gastropubs the Midnight Bell and the Cross Keys sitting conveniently next door to each other on Water Lane. Other gems include the Grove Inn for old school ales, Out of the Woods for great coffee, cakes and more, the Foundry restaurant for classic yet down-to-earth dining, Pickled Pepper for excellent continental-style dining, and lots, lots more. The many amenities of Granary Wharf – and the rest of the thriving city centre – are of course also easily accessible.
Cecilia, I hope you’re well, despite the dreadful things that 2020 has thrown at us? I also hope you might still see this 4 years later. I’m putting together a ‘virtual tour’ of Leeds on the theme of ‘How green is out city’ and your review is really useful, interesting and well written. It does indeed sound completely believable. I do real walking tours, and will return to doing them, but I haven’t yet included Greenhouse because of it being off the beaten track. With digital tours I can be more of a gad-about. My real tour starts at the University and crosses town to finish at the Climate Innovation District. Anyway, just thought you’d like to know that your effort is appreciated. Rachael 🙂
Dear Rachael, thanks for getting back to me about your work. Feel free to update me with your official website here! As a matter of policy I only publish official work sites for your web privacy and safety. So let me know if you would like to chat some more. You have my email already. take good care! Stay STrong, Stay safe and Stay an Empowered Woman of 2020! 🙂 xo Cecilia
I hope you are well.
I am currently a third year student at the University of Leeds researching the success of retrofit builds from a sustainability perspective. One of my areas of interest is Greenhouse in Leeds. I found this post extremely interesting to read, and was wondering if I would be able to contact you to further discuss your experience of living at Greenhouse?
I look forward to hearing from you, thank you in advance.
Yes that is fine. Send me your email and I will email you. All the best. Cecilia