Architectural Review has a great piece on Peter Barber, the revolutionary architect who has designed and built some of the most forward-thinking social housing in the UK.
Barber himself is a product of an era in which social housing was prioritised and popular:
“Barber was a student in 1979, the year when the proportion of the British population living in council housing peaked at 42 per cent (today the figure is approximately 8 per cent). Britain’s first few council houses were built in the 1860s… but it was only in the aftermath of two world wars that central government ramped up funding – first in 1919 and then again in 1945 – for council-house building to gain real momentum. Completions peaked with around 150,000 homes built each year.”
His work is a direct challenge both to the Thatcherite view that social housing is inevitably unpleasant, shameful, and unliveable, and the modernist view that social housing should be built on a towering scale.
I particularly like the bright-white, Mediterranean-inspired Donnybrook Quarter in Bow…
…and the stately brick car-lessness of this development on the Becontree Estate in Dagenham, which cleverly built on a cut-through between two roads while maintaining the pedestrian access: