City Crit: Modern Finsbury Housing

Take a tour through King’s Cross and Clerkenwell exploring daring concepts for inner-city living in the former borough of Finsbury


11:00am, Sunday, 19 January 2020


01:30pm, Sunday, 19 January 2020

Tour Guides

Emma Filippides

Ben Rea

Tickets: £15 Standard // AF Members 20% Discount with code

Duration: 2.5 hrs

Start: Somers Town Coffee House, 60 Chalton St, Somers Town, London NW1 1HS

Getting There: Kings Cross

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As part of our Modern Housing series, this new walk will focus on the urban neighbourhoods that thread between King’s Cross and Clerkenwell, encompassed by the former Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury until 1965. The tour will uncover a surprising patchwork of typologically ambitious, experimental inter-war and post-war social housing schemes built between the 1930s and 1960s. Typified by the significant involvement of renowned architect Berthold Lubetkin and his practice Tecton, the influence of the practice on Finsbury’s architecturally and socially progressive stance on housing is evident in the four schemes built for the borough.

We will traverse the former borough to reveal a chronological local history of a golden age in municipal building, beginning at Charles Rowan House, commissioned by the Metropolitan Police. We will also visit three of Tecton’s four built projects within the former borough – Finsbury Health Centre, Spa Green Estate and Bevin Court – to contextualise the Finsbury’s radical and socially progressive attitude to public health and housing provision. Exploring Tecton’s legacy, we will conclude at the Weston Rise Estate, which carried through many such spatial and stylistic complexities as the last LCC-designed scheme for Finsbury before it was absorbed into the London Borough of Islington in 1965. 

Leading the tour will be Emma Filippides, an architectural historian, and Ben Rea a practicing architect, who both share a sensitivity for socially-engaged domestic architecture and the powerful resonance that twentieth century modern examples still hold for the urban issues of today.

Tour Guides:

Emma Filippides is a published architectural historian with a particular interest in the domestic interior as a route towards interrogating wider questions of identity, material culture, social practices and economic conditions. In both an independent capacity, and in her prior experience working with New London Architecture, Emma has co-edited and designed research publications and curated architectural exhibitions, symposia and public programmes. Emma has recently relocated from London to Belgium where she works in collaboration with architecture and curatorial practice Veldwerk in Ghent as a designer–researcher. 

Ben Rea has a particular interest in the cultural and social role of the architect as both critic and enabler. He is a UK and Swiss-trained architect and illustrator and has taught a number of summer schools and workshops across Europe, including the European Architecture Students Assembly, the RIBA ambassadors programme and School of Speculation. He developed experience with social housing, building re-use and community arts projects while working in London for Haworth Tompkins and Citizens Design Bureau. Ben currently works at Robbrecht en Daem architecten in Ghent, Belgium and is simultaneously engaged in independent architectural research with Caravana, a performing arts charity based in Sardinia.