Retrofitting an apartment with an elevator is always going to involve compromise.
What was once a beautiful, stunning even, five story city centre building now houses tenants demanding modern convenience. Tenants have argued an elevator is essential and you must find a way to install one. They don’t care how, just make it happen.
I pity the engineers who looked at the building and came up with many of the retrofitted designs in this city. It must have been heart breaking to realise the options available.
The better instances carve into the central courtyard space. A square chunk neatly handed over to a shaft of metal and cables. Hidden from the street and affecting only those living in the apartments.
In our first apartment, the courtyard had already been eaten away with toilet blocks stacked on each other; providing residents with much needed indoor facilities. An additional bite out of the courtyard did little harm to the already shrunken space. Enough space now left only for the communal bins.
It is a rotten trade when in payment for your new elevator, an apartment block carves not into the courtyard, but instead into the stairwell itself.
Stairs once large enough to allow the passage of white goods or a sofa, reduced to a narrow squeeze space. Too small to allow free movement of larger items but still functional enough to allow claim to actually having stairs.
What do the tenants get in return for this trade? An elevator. But a useful elevator. Not always? Elevators capable of holding just one person, maybe two if they are close, are common.
We once used an elevator to carry up and down our large suitcases but not us. We could not fit inside along with our luggage. That luxury the tenants were not able to afford. Instead we pushed buttons, stepped back, and rushed up the stairs to meet the lift on our floor. An event probably neither as comical or as rare as we thought at the time.
As the years pass living in this aged city, it has become easy to forget the quirks and odd comprises. The layers of change seem normal and the resulting outcomes seem acceptable. Time is softening my critical judgement and the shrug so associated with the people of this nation seems an acceptable response. What other choice was there, it seems to reply.