“They thrived on the rapid turnover of acquaintances, the lack of involvement with others, and the total self-sufficiency of lives which, needing nothing, were never disappointed” JG Ballard, High-Rise
In this brand new experience, we will spend an entire day among the gritty vertical neighbourhoods of London’s East End and the Docklands. Throughout the course of the day, we will connect with the capital’s fascinating post-war urban transformation : from Victorian slum sprawls, to wartime devastation, and finally its monumentally Modernist rebirth. But we will also witness design failures, changing perceptions, and the betrayal of the powers that be : everything that brought about the end of the Welfare State, and with it, the decline of council estates as a model for future communities.
We will visit a significant number of locations. Starting at Kings Cross in central London, we will see the Camden Town Hall Annexe and Weston Rise estate, where we’ll be introduced to the social, political and architectural background of early 20th century London. We will then move on to visit Berthold Lubetkin’s significant works near Angel : the seminal estates at Bevin Court and Spa Green, as well as the Finsbury Health Center, where we will be discussing the influence of the Modernist movement on post-war urban regeneration. We will then move on to the Turnpike House, and the Golden Lane and Barbican estates in Clerkenwell, where the enduring imagery of high rises and council estates in pop culture will be revealed.. and that is just for warming up 😉
Our next stop will be the Docklands, where we will pass through Robin Hood Gardens, a landmark of UK’s New Brutalist aesthetic philosophy, and a controversial symbol of estate design failure – it’s now under demolition, so last chance to see it before it goes forever ! We will continue our visit towards the Chrisp Street Market, Britain’s first pedestrian shopping area and the adjacent Brownfield Estate. These were both centrepieces at the Festival of Britain in 1951, a showcase for UK’s post war urban regeneration, and stylistic examples of a new, futuristic way of living. We will then attempt a deep dive into the mind and persona of a true Brutalist architect – Erno Goldfinger, at the site of his breathtaking tower ensemble : The Balfron Tower, Carradale House and Glenkerry House.
Next, we will be crossing the Thames at Woolwich to visit the magnificent Thames Barrier, and talk about the Great Flood of 1953. We will also wander the Woolwich Dockyards area, with its vibrant microcosm of industrial and art spaces, and an abundance of derelict sightings to admire.
Our last stop will be Thamesmead, the iconic Brutalist community of 60.000 inhabitants. There we will discuss the unbridled ambition, misguided planning, and nearly catastrophic failure of a model council estate that was once termed “The City of the Future”. But beyond the astonishing visuals, we will also witness life going on, and new hope emerging as Thamesmead continues to transform into the 21st century.
Price : £70 per person
Duration : between 6 and 7 hours
Includes : Lunch, snacks and refreshments
Doesn’t include : Public Transport (please bring an Oyster Card with a £13 credit)
Please contact me using the form below or via email at email@example.com for bookings and information. Suggested day for this tour is Saturday, however other dates are usually available on request