The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

C20 Holiday Stays

2 bed flat in Rowley Way, part of the iconic Alexandra Road estate, London

Sleeps: 4

Alexandra Road estate’s much photographed and filmed stepped sections and curving traffic free streets

Photo: Wendy Akers

Neave Brown

1978

Sleeps 4

Beautifully restored flat in Grade II* brutalist block

A trip to London would surely be made more memorable with a stay in Neave Brown’s brutalist masterpiece.  This top floor apartment has been restored with original mid-century furniture and modern luxuries and boasts fantastic views.

With its stepped sections, curving traffic-free streets and underground parking, it is the most significant landscape of its type in the UK and widely regarded as one of the finest examples of public housing in Europe. But it was mired in controversy and became subject to a public inquiry. Although the findings showed that the architect was not responsible for the spiralling costs, Brown found it impossible to find work and the inquiry essentially ended his career in the UK.

It was a group of residents who in 1994 campaigned to get Alexandra Road listed at the high Grade of II* in response to poor maintenance works, which earned it the remarkable accolade as the first post-war housing estate to be listed, becoming the largest and youngest listed building in the process. This was an incredible achievement given its age and infamy, but it illustrates the way his housing is regarded by the people whose opinions matter the most – those that live there.

His post-war public housing schemes demonstrated a commitment to building high quality homes which encouraged a sense of community. He was ambitious and challenged the status quo, drawing on historic precedent and using complex geometry to achieve cutting edge results. One of a number of talented young architects to be recruited by Sydney Cook’s pioneering architect’s department at the borough of Camden in the 1960s and 70s, it is not an exaggeration to say that Brown’s designs are now widely recognised to be amongst the best urban housing schemes in the world. Indeed, there are few architects whose work has been so important in the re-evaluation of social housing in this country – but until he received the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2017, his contribution to architecture had been greatly overlooked.

Comments

One response to “2 bed flat in Rowley Way, part of the iconic Alexandra Road estate, London”

  1. J. Wolf says:

    The estate can be a bit rough even though it is in St Johns Wood!!! But it is indeed a fascinating scheme.

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