Modernist Estates: The buildings and the people who live in them

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Modernist Estates: The buildings and the people who live in them

Modernist Estates: The buildings and the people who live in them

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I knew a little bit about the building before I moved here. The scheme was part of Camden’s ‘golden era’ of housing along with estates such as the Highgate New Town in Archway by Peter Tabori, and Alexandra Road in Swiss Cottage by Neave Brown. These young and progressive architects rejected the trend for high-rise developments that had been popular after the war in favour of good quality, well-planned, low-rise buildings. Gorgeous and absolutely fascinating! This is a thorough and affectionate exploration of almost two dozen Modernist public housing complexes in England. Most were built during the postwar era, though the overall range spans from the 30s to the 90s. It brought to mind some of the later seasons of Call the Midwife, which often dealt with London's housing crisis. Several characters moved into flats like these and it was interesting to get a real-life look at the types of places they lived. With its striking stepped-concrete terraces, the Alexandra & Ainsworth Estate is the most famous of the social housing schemes built during Camden’s “golden age” in the 1960s and 1970s. Rowley Way was built between 1972-78 by the revered Modernist architect Neave Brown and has been given a rate Grade II* listing by English Heritage in recognition of its architectural significance.

Modernist Estates: The buildings and the people who live in them Modernist Estates: The buildings and the people who live in them

Round haus … designed in 1929 by Bauhaus architect Carl Fieger, the Kornhaus restaurant is on the River Elbe near Dessau. Photograph: Ronny Hartmann/Getty ImagesBut for the older locals who live there, these ambitious yet dated modernist buildings are what they call home and have been for most of their lives. Photographer Laurent Kronental was so moved by the living conditions of the Ensembles, he wanted to shed light on their older residents, people who are sometimes regarded as a forgotten generation. The meeting point is on Triton Square, at the junction with Drummond Street. Organised by London Borough of Camden

Beat lockdown boredom with these architectural walking guides Beat lockdown boredom with these architectural walking guides

Pretty much all we can do at the moment is go for a walk, so I think people have appreciated having something to do with a bit of a purpose,” she says. “They’re not very expensive, so they are accessible to most people. I hope they are a nice balance between learning a little about the area’s architecture and going for a nice walk!” Sumptuous photographs and interesting accompanying text about the many modernist estates in Britain. Before buying our current flat on the 18th floor, my now-husband and I rented a flat on the third floor. That’s how much we loved the building – we knew we wanted to buy here. Photographs of buildings - 2 stars - pretty tedious really. Where original features are shown they are interesting, but in general you get not-especially-good photographs of living spaces which, on the whole, have a pretty uniform taste in decoration.This geographical spread and chronology is interesting as it reminds us that Modernism in these terms is much more than a stylistic label. Although the examples selected include Le Corbusier’s Unite in Marseilles and works by Arne Jacobsen, there are also projects by Aldo Rossi and Ricardo Bofill, architects who defy easy categorisation as orthodox modernists.

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