Modern Futures? Public housing and architectural modernism in Finsbury and the City of London

Trip leaders: Dr Ruth Craggs (Kings College London), Dr Hilary Geoghegan (University of Reading) and Dr Hannah Neate (University of Central Lancashire)

This walking tour will explore the history of public housing – and architectural modernism in east and central London. It begins in Finsbury (EC1) which, in the first half of the twentieth century, was one of the most progressive local authorities in the country, building lots of social housing and experimenting with high rise forms. It concludes with the architecturally iconic Golden Lane and Barbican estates, which are now some of the most desirable addresses in London. The walk begins at Angel station, from where we will walk towards Barbican, taking a circuitous route through some of central London’s most interesting housing estates. On route we will see the evolution of ideas of social housing, from late nineteenth century London County Council built blocks, through to innovative high quality council housing designed by Lubetkin of the firm Tecton (also famous for their design of the Penguin Pool at London Zoo) and completed in 1946, and the high rise towers of the 1960s. We will finish by exploring the now much sought after housing in the 1950s Golden Lane Estate (Chamberlain, Powell and Bonn), and the Barbican (also Chamberlain, Powell and Bonn, completed 1976), one of the best examples of brutalism (on an epic scale) in London.  Much of the housing in the area reflects the progressive make-up of the local council responsible for many of the examples we will see (up until the 1960s this was Finsbury), and the walk will also allow us to reflect on the economic geographies of the area, its radical political history, and how these in turn have shaped its housing landscape. Along the way we will stop for coffee, and we will finish the trip with a drink at the Barbican and a choice to join us for dinner close by. 

Location: Central London
Duration: 2pm to 5pm (3 hour tour), followed by optional drinks and dinner
Cost: £15 (includes public transport and itinerary/guide)
Maximum capacity: 15 people
Minimum capacity: 10 people

Further Information: Delegates will travel independently to the start point of the fieldtrip by public transport (included in the cost of the fieldtrip). Delegates will be participating in a city based walking tour (3 hours), which will take place at a leisurely pace. Comfortable shoes, wet weather clothing, water and sun protection should be worn/carried by participants. Delegates pay for their own refreshments (there will be a coffee stop en route, and an optional drink and dinner at the end).

A risk assessment for this trip is available here: ICHG_Fieldwork_Risk_assessment 6 – Finsbury and the City

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