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

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

We reside in a time the place we’re coping with the mountain of issues brought on by a era of frankly shitty properties. Some have been properly constructed however by no means correctly maintained, whereas others have been constructed rapidly and cheaply and should not fireproof, or are leaking so badly that they threaten constructing security and critically endanger human well being and life expectancy.

The atrocity of the Grenfell Tower fireplace has opened up a complete 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 undoubtedly the time to replicate.

It might be helpful to recall that after the Second World Warfare, 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 unimaginable million new properties. Housing, well being and native authority supervision had been beneath the administration of a single authorities division beneath Bevan’s management.

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

So long as there are gifted and imaginative architects who design lovely properties and sustainable, people-centered housing, there’s absolutely 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 reasonably priced properties that we desperately want.

100 20e Century-old homes proves it with a sequence of progressive 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 fairly 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 just about 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 at all times 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 pressure. alongside the 20e Century Society, we fought like demons to avoid wasting Greenside. And we failed.

There are happier tales among the many 100 largely chic buildings (not you Poundbury). Some great and progressive properties have been saved for posterity and restored. Some have been refurbished to satisfy trendy wants.

All of those buildings replicate the considerations of their time, reminiscent of the kids’s and servants’ quarters changing into open area, the place the lady of the home is honored with trendy facilities however stays her personal skivvy and prepare dinner, and with appropriate area to the kids in lastly the center of the home.


Making an attempt to remain targeted within the face of a barrage of celestial homes just isn’t 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 properties, set in lush nature, with new options for coexisting. and dwelling and dealing, that are nonetheless related and galvanizing right now.

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, just like Luke Tozer’s 2007 Hole Home. The place area is restricted, fairly extraordinary options come up to create a way of order and calm. Absolutely we might use extra of those options in much less extraordinary properties?

Properties with wonderful expanses of floor-to-ceiling glazing, some encompassing whole facades like 1976’s Hopkins Home, had been fully applicable when gasoline prices had been low and local weather change was unimaginable. Find out how to improve a generously glazed constructing now? In additional modest properties, tearing out the elegant Crittal home windows just isn’t an answer.

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

The guide accommodates high quality 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 power”, and naturally BedZED “zero power growth” by Invoice Dunster in 2002, tackle their full that means. Extra please.


On this entrance, we want, and shortly, dependable and standardized technique of monitoring complaints from zero or low power buildings. We should not enable builders to make outlandish claims, when apparently solely 29% of latest buildings really obtain the low power they declare.

In Kensington and Chelsea, as elsewhere, we’re confronted with the crucial to offer extra housing. The necessity, as at all times, is for “reasonably priced” housing, though for whom it’s reasonably priced is an ongoing debate. The answer, for my part, is completely NOT to construct excessive. Excessive-rise buildings are extraordinarily costly to construct, keep, 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 by way of, triple glazing and personal out of doors area is a mannequin value revisiting.

I consider Neave Brown’s Alexandra Highway (not printed 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 yr 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 fine high quality properties.

It could be an overstatement to say that in 2022 and past we’ve got 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 warfare with Ukraine and the blatant greed of builders, in addition to the scarcity of supplies, labor – expert work, public funding and albeit the need of the brand new authorities. .

Latest proposals to accommodate the homeless in transformed transport containers or prefab modules are much less beneficiant than the 156,000 prefab bungalows constructed after the warfare, with their gardens massive sufficient to develop greens. Nearly 80 years later, have we come full circle? Or can we study from a few of these good and considerate properties, and actually construct sustainable properties in a cost-effective, ecological and higher means?

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