New monograph by Stefi Orazi on the Golden Lane Estate


Stefi Orazi’s Golden Lane Estate monograph reveals London’s architectural and social history

A new monograph by Stefi Orazi on London’s Golden Lane Estate discusses modernist architecture and social and architectural history

Stefi Orazi has become the unofficial chronicler of London’s golden age of housing. His architecture book 2015 Modernist estates tapped into the renewed interest in high-quality municipal buildings with modernist architecture that sprang up in the capital during the post-war building boom. She followed it with a monograph on The Barbican estate, this rare and enduring example of a vast private estate lovingly deployed in pure modernist philosophy. Longtime Barbican resident Orazi has now turned her pen to her close neighbor, the Golden Lane Estate.

While the Barbican (built between 1965 and 1976, with other elements of the site not fully completed until 1982) was a complex and complex project, with up to 140 different apartment types, Golden Lane was the forerunner. Designed by the same firm, Chamberlin, Powell & Bon, it had a very different mission. Orazi, who spent a decade as a resident, notes that although Golden Lane Estate was designed for workers and not professionals, it was not all that different from the Barbican in terms of ethos, character and style. attention to detail.

Golden Lane can trace its origins back to the 13th century, but it was World War II that set the stage for an entirely new project. In 1952, Geoffry Powell won a competition organized by the City Corporation to build workers’ housing in this area, once the heart of London’s rag trade, but completely devastated by the Blitz, which destroyed almost a third of the buildings of the City of London.

Powell teamed up with Christopher Bon and Peter Chamberlin, and their design blended the density of high-rise living with a restoration of long-lost street patterns. The main tower, Great Arthur House, sits alongside low-rise apartment buildings, including Hatfield House and Crescent House. With just over 550 apartments housing around 1,500 people, plans included facilities such as a swimming pool, tennis court, nursery and even guest apartments and the estate’s own police station.

Orazi’s book includes an introduction by architectural historian Elain Harwood, a recognized expert on the work of Chamberlin, Powell & Bon and a tireless chronicler of 20th-century architecture.

Archival images are beautifully paired with contemporary architectural photography by Mary Gaudin and a series of portraits of residents by Julian Ward. These accompany Orazi’s interviews with contemporary residents, as well as a view of a number of different apartment types that make up the estate.

The book is a rich combination of architectural and social history, charting the rise, fall and rise of the estate’s fortunes, as its popularity waned before rising again as quality, space and proposed location became obvious in the face of a contemporary era in constant decline. standards.

Now Grade II and Grade II* listed, and with many apartments in private ownership, the Golden Lane Estate is still an example of how to build well in the urban context: encouraging open space with a sense of community and shared ownership, a diversity of design typologies and details, and a build quality that elevates the everyday to something that remains highly desirable, despite its flaws. §


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