Review |  100 20th Century Houses by the Twentieth Century Society |  Exam

Review | 100 20th Century Houses by the Twentieth Century Society | Exam

We dwell in a time the place we’re coping with the mountain of issues attributable to a era of frankly shitty houses. Some have been effectively constructed however by no means correctly maintained, whereas others have been constructed shortly and cheaply and are usually not fireproof, or are leaking so badly that they threaten constructing security and severely endanger human well being and life expectancy.

The atrocity of the Grenfell Tower hearth has opened up an entire new Pandora’s field, and we’re a great distance from fixing it. All political events agree that we desperately want extra housing, however they’re contemplating funding it and people they assume must be housed. Now’s positively the time to mirror.

It could be helpful to recall that after the Second World Struggle, the availability of housing was entrusted to the Ministry of Well being. Between 1945 and 1950, Aneurin Bevan, as minister, oversaw the availability of an unbelievable million new houses. Housing, well being and native authority supervision have been below the administration of a single authorities division below Bevan’s management.

This makes good sense, reasonably than one ministry mocking poor high quality housing whereas one other offers with the rising circumstances of bronchial asthma, tuberculosis, coronary heart illness and all the opposite ailing results of poor high quality housing. Some good examples from the Bevan period are included in 100 20e Century-old homesrevealed October 13 by Batsford for the C20 Society.

So long as there are gifted and imaginative architects who design stunning houses and sustainable, people-centered housing, there’s certainly hope for a future the place nationwide and native authorities employs them or their successors within the campaign to offer hundreds of thousands of protected folks. , wholesome and inexpensive houses that we desperately want.

100 20e Century-old homes proves it with a collection of modern and humane home sorts spanning from 1914 to 2015, accompanied by essays and texts by writers who know their stuff.


I had solely reached web page 13 when actuality hit. James Melvin’s beautiful 1969 dwelling at 60 Hornton Road, Kensington, preserved in cinematic element within the movie ‘Exhibition’, has disappeared. Its courtly neighborhood scale and modest facades have been set again in deference to the reasonably noisy and boisterous Victorian brick terrace of the Observatory Gardens and the center of Hornton Road.

It has been changed with an outsized company piece that nearly utterly fills the footprint and pokes enjoyable at its neighbors. I sat on the planning committee that decided the demolition and growth. I voted in opposition to each. It all the time hurts.

On the identical web page, the refined perfection of Connell Ward and Lucas’ understated Greenside of 1937 was the topic of a years-long marketing campaign wherein I used to be concerned as a member of the Docomomo-UK activity power. alongside the 20e Century Society, we fought like demons to save lots of Greenside. And we failed.

There are happier tales among the many 100 principally elegant buildings (not you Poundbury). Some fantastic and modern houses have been saved for posterity and restored. Some have been refurbished to fulfill trendy wants.

All of those buildings mirror the issues of their time, reminiscent of the kids’s and servants’ quarters turning into open house, the place the girl of the home is honored with trendy facilities however stays her personal skivvy and prepare dinner, and with appropriate house to the kids in lastly the center of the home.


Making an attempt to remain centered within the face of a barrage of celestial homes will not be straightforward. Some favorites are The Homewood by Patrick Gwynne in 1939, Excessive Sunderland by Peter Womersley in 1958, and Hopkins Home by Michael and Patty Hopkins in 1976. They’re all inspiring personal houses, set in lush nature, with new options for coexisting. and residing and dealing, that are nonetheless related and provoking in the present day.

A number of the small homes are distinctive. Jeremy Lever’s 1973 29 ½ Lansdowne Crescent is a gem of a constructing, the place each sq. inch has been mobilized, much like Luke Tozer’s 2007 Hole Home. The place house is restricted, fairly extraordinary options come up to create a way of order and calm. Absolutely we may use extra of those options in much less extraordinary houses?

Houses with wonderful expanses of floor-to-ceiling glazing, some encompassing total facades like 1976’s Hopkins Home, have been completely applicable when gas prices have been low and local weather change was unimaginable. The right way to improve a generously glazed constructing now? In additional modest houses, tearing out the elegant Crittal home windows will not be an answer.

Some have been beset by the UPVC virus, which for my part is an unsightly, short-sighted response to the urgent want to enhance the thermal high quality of home windows. They’re additionally manufactured from anti-environment plastic, extremely flammable and non-recyclable. We are going to remorse their widespread use within the years to come back. We want energy-saving options that do not create new long-term issues.

The guide comprises wonderful examples of previous low-carbon or low-energy homes, some dug into the earth. Others, like Burton Home by Richard Burton in 1988, “lengthy life, free match, low vitality”, and naturally BedZED “zero vitality growth” by Invoice Dunster in 2002, tackle their full which means. Extra please.


On this entrance, we’d like, and shortly, dependable and standardized technique of monitoring complaints from zero or low vitality buildings. We should not enable builders to make outlandish claims, when apparently solely 29% of recent buildings truly obtain the low vitality they declare.

In Kensington and Chelsea, as elsewhere, we’re confronted with the crucial to offer extra housing. The necessity, as all the time, is for “inexpensive” housing, though for whom it’s inexpensive is an ongoing debate. The answer, for my part, is totally NOT to construct excessive. Excessive-rise buildings are extraordinarily costly to construct, preserve, safe in opposition to fires, warmth and funky.

The reply is to not present heating, air con and sprinklers, which solely alleviate the issues created by buildings. For me, a era of mid-rise, high-density housing, solidly constructed with safe insulation, pure air flow via, triple glazing and personal out of doors house is a mannequin price revisiting.

I consider Neave Brown’s Alexandra Highway (not revealed right here) in addition to George Benson and Alan Forsyth’s magnificent Department Hill of 1978, “the swan track of public housing”, when the next 12 months Thatcher was elected and halted the development of social housing. Department Hill, Alexandra Highway and Whittington Property (“Highgate New City”) definitely deserve additional research if we’re to construct a brand new era of excellent high quality houses.

It is likely to be an overstatement to say that in 2022 and past we have now been pushed again to a post-WW2 scenario. However there are similarities to the development and home-building disaster caused by a mixture of Brexit chaos, Putin’s conflict with Ukraine and the blatant greed of builders, in addition to the scarcity of supplies, labor – expert work, public funding and admittedly the desire of the brand new authorities. .

Current proposals to deal with the homeless in transformed delivery containers or prefab modules are much less beneficiant than the 156,000 prefab bungalows constructed after the conflict, with their gardens giant sufficient to develop greens. Virtually 80 years later, have we come full circle? Or can we be taught from a few of these sensible and considerate houses, and actually construct sustainable houses in a cheap, ecological and higher method?

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