The Balfron Tower
Brutalism: the Balfron Tower

The London Festival of Architecture, taking place this month, is this year centred around the theme of ‘community’.

Although a capital wide affair, several events will invite Tower Hamlets residents to consider the impact of the built environment on their lives, as well as hear about exciting ideas and initiatives for the future.

Stock Bricks to Brutalism: Housing Design History in Poplar

This guided walk, taking place throughout the month, focuses on the massive overhaul of housing stock in Poplar during the 20th century. Overcrowding, dilapidation, poor sanitary conditions and bomb damage in Poplar spurred some of the most emblematic and bold designs that continue to divide opinion.

The two hour walk will aim to trace social housing from the end of World War One through to the 1980s. It will stop off at estates built between the two World Wars in the ‘economic Georgian style’ (e.g. Will Crooks Estate) before taking in some celebrated and notorious post-war estates: Lansbury, Brownfield (home to Brutalist masterpiece the Balfron Tower), and Robin Hood Gardens. The walk is led by Andrew Parnell, a qualified City of London Guide, who will be seeking to impart a little of the history of Poplar along the way.

Shoreditch Architecture Surgery

Shoreditch architects Finkernagel Ross, designers of “bold unassuming architecture and interiors for high-end residential, industrial and commercial clients”, are throwing open their doors on 16 June and inviting visitors to come in and have a look at their work.

Models, renderings, and drawings will all be on display, and the practice will also be offering professional advice to anyone who needs it on all matters relating to design, planning or construction, with a 30-minute one-on-one meeting with an architect. There is no charge to attend the architecture surgery, though donations of £25 to homelessness charity Shelter are encouraged.

Lansbury Estate credit michael owens
Lansbury Estate. Photograph: Michael Owens

Homes not Houses: Putting Wellbeing First

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared the housing crisis “the single biggest barrier to prosperity” and has vowed to build more houses. But in last month’s East End Citizen, Nicholas Boys Smith of research institute Create Streets argued that housing is not just about numbers. High land costs and limited housing supply, he said, is a “vicious circle” that will lead to buildings that are “less popular and that people don’t want to live in”. Smith will be discussing his own radical lower-rise vision at the Legatum Institute in a panel that includes architecture critic Rowan Moore.

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