November 8th 2018 UPDATE: I went round Maiden Lane with a resident and two friends earlier this year to see what had been done. The new blocks are out of scale with the older blocks while mimicking them architecturally; and the sunken gardens are badly shaded.

The estate has had a coat of paint and some repairs from the profits derived from sale of private flats in the new tower.

UPDATE: Film of the estate at 12:38 Architecture_at_the_Crossroads


When I walked onto the Maiden Lane Estate (“by the great Scottish Corbusian architects Benson and Forsyth” – Douglas Murphy) I hated it, run down and flaking paint.  When I left an hour later I loved it, a strong Art Deco feel and the knowledge that there’s nothing wrong with it structurally, it just needs badly tidying up and painting.  Why won’t Camden Council do it up?

Click photo for larger image

I love the Art Deco towers, I don’t know what is inside them but they are reminiscent of a 1930s Odeon cinema.

Allensbury Place, a very Art Deco feel with the railings and white surfaces

I like the fact that the residents have planted bushes on the balcony, a lovely touch



Underground garages as criticised by Alice Coleman in Utopia on trial

“Garages in blocks of flats are particularly hazardous when they are designed as two in-facing ranks with no external surveillance.  On the notorious North Peckham Estate, garages of this type are often used for bringing stolen cars and motor cycles in order to indulge in the sport of setting fire to them.”

Alice Coleman – Utopia on trial Ch.5 p.73 – August 1985 See also Design Disadvantagement

Garage vents to front of houses

Worse than the garages are the vents coming out in front of the entrances to the rather charming modern terrace with the potential for idiots to set fire to a vehicle in the garage below and cause smoke to billow out in front of the houses thus disrupting the entrances.  I have no idea if this has ever happened but the potential for abuse is there.  These need to be closed off and converted to some other use and the vents removed, in my view.

Abandoned flower beds whilst close by are . . . planters

What a sad indictment of cost cutting this is.  Here is a purpose built flower bed designed to be attended to by gardeners in days gone by but now forgotten and instead, like some totally inadequate and pathetic excuse for horticultural embellishment the council has put these instead . . .

Just feet away from the flowerbed are these steel planters, what a joke!

I’ve put the rest of the photographs into an album format in order to reduce the length of this post and besides they don’t need comments, they speak for themselves, showing the need for some tender loving care to be applied to this neglected estate, not the fault I hasten to add of the returned Labour council who have in fact a presence on site with portacabins and scaffolding, for window replacement.

Click here for the photograph album

What to say in summary?   I spoke to a local shopkeeper who told me that £40,000 had been spent on the new play equipment in the wooded area at the Western edge of the estate.  He told me he thinks the estate should be gated to keep out bad people who come in at night to do drugs and cause trouble but I told him that modern thinking is to make closed estates “permeable” so that pedestrians have free right of passage through estates to increase surveillance and contact with the streets.  There is a conflict of interest here and I can see both sides.

The estate has a lot of CCTV which is rather sad considering that were the estate in better shape and had a couple of caretakers this might be dispensed with.  The camera towers are ugly and intrusive and add to the feeling of disengagement by those who are supposed to be in charge of the estate.


I’ve been reading the report linked below, which was written only six years after the estate’s completion.  I had no idea the residents felt like that 21 years ago, and yet in the meantime, although not maintained, it has not deteriorated to the extent one might have imagined given the problems outlined in the text.

I spoke only to one person, the shopkeeper, and he didn’t mention the feelings expressed in the report, but I think the time has come for a new report.  One that isn’t over 20 years old, to see if those feelings are still reflected.

Here is a report about the estate from 1989 – click here to read it or here (local copy)

UPDATE: 19/6/11 Here are the current plans pertaining to the estate:-

Summary of consultation on York Way 2010

Maiden Lane cabinet report 6 April

Maiden Lane exhibition materials

UPDATE: 26/10/11 From Camden New Journal

Who cares?

Published: 20 October, 2011

• AT Maiden Lane Management Assoc­iation AGM we had 25 voting members out of some 210 – a poor show.

There are well over 1,000 residents, and the lack of interest in their future, and the future of their estate, by most residents is staggering!

A November meeting will decide if Camden will serve notice on the association, and then take back the management of the estate. Please come to meetings and let us hear from you Maiden Laners.

Maiden Lane, NW1

More photographs at the wonderful Modern Architecture site:-

This related article from RedBrick – In memory of William Barnes

5 Responses to “Maiden Lane Estate – Camden”

  1. cristina Says:

    Firstly… great start for a blog. I do too, and i also hate UPVC, but, hey!
    Maiden lane is quite an amazing place. The block you refer to, Allensbury, is a great example of housing designed for the elderly… the planters have also a lovely sitting area by their side so that the original tenants could sit on it and watch te world go by… isnt it great?
    The council, you are right, has not spent money on maintaining (rather than patch working) full stop and it is sad. It is sad because it makes people feel unloved. And for years the politicians have blamed the architecture, just because they could not accept the responsibility for not having taken care of their tenants… even more sad.
    It is a nice place to live in though!and i think that you are right, probably it is time to see the 2010 face of Maiden Lane… third generation in some cases!

  2. Blandine Says:

    I live in the estate and when I first moved here i was a bit worried but I met some lovely people and I feel very safe…the kids are no problem whatsoever…bit noisy but so are mine…but never witness any malicious behavour… the estate need some loving care to back to its glorious past…why does camden council give it a coat of paint…i would might volunteering !

  3. Single Aspect Says:

    Blandine, thanks for writing in, I’m always pleased to hear from people who live on the estates I visit. I’m glad the plans to demolish have been abandoned and look forward to visiting again when the estate has had a makeover.

  4. Anthi Says:

    I just moved to the Estate last month and have been doing some research on it’s background.
    As an architect, I could immediately appreciate it’s character and architectural value…but it is true that it doesn’t only look, but it IS abandoned from the local authorities and it urgently needs a makeover!
    I thought it must have been built around the ’60s and was so surprised to see that it is actually much much newer!
    Any building without maintenance looks old and scary. I hope Camden won’t only invest money on the fancy new buildings on York Way and then ignore the rest.
    I will try to pursue a more thorough involvement with the estate as a UCL postgrad student and possibly do a POE on environmental design and performance of these buildings….hopefully that will add up to the regeneration ideas in a more attractive way for extra funding…

  5. Ben Says:

    Prof Mark Swenarton, Emeritus Professor of Architecture at University of Liverpool is currently conducting research on the Maiden Lane estate, Phase I, result to be published in a book in 2017.

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