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Modern Camden Housing Tour
We'll discuss the modernist icons of Camden and explore the revolutionary architects who transformed approaches to housing around the world
North west London has been a laboratory for radical housing experiments since the early 19th century.
This new walk takes participants through the London Borough of Camden, formed from the historic boroughs of St Pancras, Holborn and Hampstead. We will see the products of the experimental 1960s and 70s, under the leadership and drive of borough architect Sydney Cook and (not without tension) director of planning Bruno Schlaffenberg.
In an area sharply divided by wealth, Cook sought to fulfil the post war Labour ideal of well-managed council housing available to ‘the doctor, the grocer, the butcher and the farm labourer… the living tapestry of the mixed community.’ At its peak, over 30 per cent of housing in the UK was in the social sector.
Emerging from this exciting landscape came Local Authority architects critical of the post war modernist point and slab block (‘mixed’) developments and energised by the challenge of building low-rise, high-density estates. Not without criticism, the social housing they built during this period has become some of the most iconic 20th century housing in the world.
Influenced by post Georgian London vernacular, new domestic work – such as Leslie Martin and Patrick Hodgkinson’s Brunswick Centre, new international work by practices like Atelier 5, and literature such as Community and Privacy (by Alexander and Chermayeff), these architects stressed the importance of cultural continuity: a front door onto the street, a back garden for children to safely play in, and semi-private space for communities to thrive in.
At the forefront of this movement emerged the now-celebrated Neave Brown; followed closely by other prominent architects like Peter Tabori, Benson & Forsyth and Tom Kay.
We will meet outside Archway station and cross the border into the London Borough of Camden. We will visit a plethora of exemplar housing projects, including Highgate New Town / Stoneleigh Terrace by Tabori, Mansfield Road and Lamble Street by Benson & Forsyth, Haddo House by Robert Baillie, the masterplanned area formerly of Lismore Circus by Frederick McManus & Partners, Bacton Low Rise Estate by Karakusevic Carson Architects, Wood Field and Barn Field by Farquharson & McMorran, Winscombe Street and Fleet (now Dunboyne) Road Estate by Neave Brown, and finishing at the Lawn Road Flats (Isokon building) by Wells Coates.
You will be guided by practicing architects armed with the skills to bring this debate into the present day, introducing you to important buildings that are unforgettable seen together.
Within a climate of an accommodation crisis in London, rising homelessness and with the number of flats recently surpassing the number of houses (a gap set to increasingly widen), these precedents have never been more pertinent.
Start: Archway Underground Station
End: Belsize Park Underground Station
This tour is wheelchair and buggy accessible