London’s unsung social housing architecture gets a fresh look in new book The Council Estate
In London, some council estates have achieved celebrity status. When Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower in Poplar was controversially turned into personal flats, the internet marketing suite even marketed tote bags branded with an graphic of the Modernist large-rise.
But hidden away in the cash are hundreds of lesser-recognised estates just as architecturally considerable, if not all as perfectly preserved. These “undermined and underfunded” buildings are now staying celebrated in a new guide by south London photographer Jack Younger.
Younger, a item designer, used years scouring each individual inch of the capital to uncover its most photogenic housing assignments. His collection of 68 photos types a new collection, The Council Household, featuring individual interviews with residents and insights into the buildings’ layouts.
“I hope that by championing the hidden attractiveness in some of the estates featured, that the e-book may problem unfavorable perceptions that individuals may possibly have in the direction of council housing and its architecture,” said Younger.
“Too frequently these estates are depicted as backgrounds to gritty tv dramas or encapsulated in imposing black and white photography.”
The venture is well timed, with the British isles presently savoring anything of a council housing revival. Soon after decades of inactivity thanks to lack of funding, the final handful of many years have observed a gradual but steady development in nearby authority-backed housebuilding. In 2019, the Stirling Prize for the UK’s most effective new constructing went to a council housing undertaking for the initial time, Goldsmith St in Norwich intended by Mikhail Riches Architects.
In the money, architect Peter Barber has also received plaudits for his inventive social housing jobs these kinds of as a cluster of townhouses made for Newham Council, and a 33-dwelling mansion block in Southwark. This 7 days Sadiq Khan hailed the “resurgence” of council housebuilding in London, saying the quantity of residences commenced on a yearly basis had elevated 6-fold, with perform commencing on in excess of 11,000 houses due to the fact 2018.
It reverses several years of decline, nevertheless still falls brief of the highs noticed in the publish-War yrs, in which once-a-year completions averaged all-around 126,000.
Young’s images mostly rejoice the golden period of social housing in the 1960s and 70s, when quite a few London councils experienced formidable, idealistic, in-dwelling architecture teams coming up with housing on a huge scale.
The ebook highlights gems like Holmefield Property, just all-around the corner from Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in west London.
The tiled 1967 housing estate was built by Julian Keable & Companions with porthole home windows and mock-classic pillars and was commissioned by the now-disbanded Kensington Metropolitan Borough Council.
In Roehampton, Younger lands on the slab towers of Alton West, element of the Alton Estate which types one particular of the UK’s greatest housing initiatives with more than 13,000 citizens. Some structures on the broader estate are currently because of to be demolished underneath controversial plans by Wandsworth Council.
Meanwhile on a Dulwich hilltop the 300-flat Dawson’s Heights overlooks swathes of south-east London.
It was created by Kate Macintosh for Southwark Council when she was just 28 decades previous. Accomplished in 1972, each and every flat has a balcony, which Macintosh fought to involve by justifying each individual as a fire escape.
Youthful also captures scaled-down facts, this sort of as an spectacular curved slide built in a children’s play space on Westminster’s Brunel Estate.
One of the UK’s only pieces of enjoy equipment to be Quality II detailed, the slide cascades down a large brick wall. Younger describes the estate as a “masterclass in balancing weighty architecture with peaceful moments of urban respite.”
Other these types of times include a staircase in Skinner, Bailey and Lubetkin’s Bevin Court in Islington or the multi-coloured stained glass windows of Trellick Tower which, Younger writes, bathes the tower’s lobby in “euphoric light” as if moving into a concrete cathedral.
The Trellick stained glass is a person of Young favorite photographs, presenting a “glimpse into the lesser-known depths of the concrete behemoth, a world normally belonging exclusively to its inhabitants.”
Youthful added: “Council housing is as considerably a element of London as Massive Ben or Buckingham Palace, yet for decades it has been neglected, undervalued and at worst actively avoided by quite a few.
“This reserve seems to be to flip the script. By showcasing the beauty and individualism in these socially crucial structures the reserve aims to problem stereotypes as we glance to restore some of the rightful delight that was initially felt towards them.”
The Council Residence by Jack Youthful is printed by Hoxton Mini Push.