savecressingham181014

Cressingham Gardens need to be repaired, restored and retained in my opinion for the following reasons.

It was designed and built at a time when housing ideals were at their highest and at a period still influenced by the aftermath of the Second World War when housing need was as great if not greater than now, when some of the best minds of a generation had come together in one place – at County Hall in London under the LCC then GLC and later, the boroughs – to work in the architects departments.

History has shown that they were driven not by a desire to get rich but rather to serve the public good, a concept which has been, if not lost, then muted by the neo-liberal consensus in place since 1979.

The GLC and the borough architects in Lambeth and Camden under Sydney Cook designed some of the best public housing in London, most of which still stands but some of which has been, and is being replaced, for dubious political reasons, by ignorant and grant starved borough councils.

I cannot for one moment, even in 2014, imagine the London Borough of Camden, either suggesting nor allowing for example, Alexandra Road or the Whittington Estate at Dartmouth Park Road, or Neave Brown’s other work (all recently listed incidentally) to suffer the threat of redevelopment or demolition in favour of cheaply built single aspect flats, and yet this is the threat that faces Cressingham Gardens, which failed to get listing status from English Heritage but achieved instead conservation area status.

Where Camden is enlightened, Lambeth appears benighted, either suffering such poverty of funding that they are forced to ignore the history and consider the redevelopment of every asset in their borough, or more likely simply ignorant of the history and high quality of some of the housing they govern.

Cressingham Gardens and other examples like it across London, stand as examples not just of their time, but of the quality of design of that time, with space standards defined by the Parker Morris committee, good ceiling heights and light especially thanks to full height windows and clerestory windows in the houses and flats.

Housing design of this quality has been largely abandoned in London in recent decades in favour of fast and cheap development for profit and sale to overseas buyers. There is little consideration of aspect or apparently layout regardless of price. Some of the worst flats now are the most expensive and if you doubt this then research the market as I have.

As the architects of the former GLC architects’ department, and the boroughs, fall victim to anno domini as must we all, it is their work that stands as both testimony and example to the thoughtfulness and intelligence of their design, for future generations to admire and be inspired by. When that is gone, through carelessness and thoughtlessness and displacement of the contented residents, how will the lessons of the past have been learned?

History will judge very harshly those who destroy our inheritance of good housing from the post war period but there is still time to preserve it.

Lambeth, please think carefully about what you are planning for your jewel in the crown.

[Article edited 22/5/15 to acknowledge the borough architects’ departments about which I am still learning – Ed.]

2 Responses to “Cressingham Gardens: Lambeth’s jewel in the crown”

  1. Cressingham Gardens | Andrea Gibbons Says:

    […] protest generated a lovely amount of press. More on the protest can be found again at the Single Aspect Blog, and Brixton Buzz has some more photos from the march when it reached the town hall. But the […]

  2. Cressingham Gardens - Andrea Gibbons Says:

    […] protest generated a lovely amount of press. More on the protest can be found again at the Single Aspect Blog, and Brixton Buzz has some more photos from the march when it reached the town hall. But the […]

Leave a Reply