Gascoyne Estate

Reading Rowan Moore’s piece in the Observer this afternoon about the need for local authorities to start building again reminded me that this morning I spotted a tower block in the distance north of Victoria Park:-

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I went to investigate.   It’s the Gascoyne Estate, just the sort of 1950s housing estate which led to the presumption that local authority housing was a disaster, designed during the period when Leslie Martin was running the LCC housing department and Colin St. John Wilson described working for it as like ‘a summons to join the Forces again but in this case to win the peace by rebuilding London’.   From a cursory investigation, but not from Pevsner, I think it may have been designed by Alan Colquhoun, one of the drier and more cerebral members of the group working under Wilson, but it is also listed as by Wilson in his complete works.   I realised that with the shortage of housing, mixed tenancies and better maintenance, these monolithic housing developments designed by the LCC Architects’ Department look much more desirable:-

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One thought on “Gascoyne Estate

  1. Colin St. John Wilson’s obituary in the Daily Telegraph includes the following: ‘The prevailing spirit of Le Corbusier-inspired idealism in the LCC informed the design of such buildings as the 1954 pre-cast concrete Bentham Road flats in Hackney, whose poor maintenance in subsequent years made them a poignant symbol of the disillusionment later felt by that generation of architects. Wilson commented that “we really felt we were building a brave new world” but that they “probably weren’t the right people. We were very young, we didn’t have families, and certainly we were doctrinaire in the way that young architects can sure as hell be. I think it required a bit more maturity”.

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