This was the Future, Vol.28

typed for your pleasure on 23 August 2006, at 7.15 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Do or die’ by the Human League

There are pretty much two styles of Sixties architecture that make me come over all frothy: there’s the utopian, futuristic style of a vintage Space age vision (Montreal’s Expo ’67, Villa Spies), and then there’s the grim dystopian style of what we were given instead (Trellick tower). I have to say that I love them both equally. If I were to compare them to films that I dig, on the one hand you have ‘Barbarella’, and on the other, you’ve got ‘Alphaville’. In fact, ‘Alphaville’ has a lot of rather ace buildings in it, but I’m certain finding particular names and backgrounds in English for any of them would be like looking for a needle placed gently somewhere on the dark side of the moon. However, it’s always a joy being able to present information about the buildings that I like — it’s a small victory, especially after sifting through all that Interweb. And you know I get easily distracted. So tonight, you get a fine example of dystopia, in the shape of the housing developments of Alexandra road, designed by Neave Brown in 1969.

A community center that includes a school, reception center, maintenance facilities and the heating plant mark the entrance to the site from London Road to the west and open to the park areas. The lower buildings contain maisonettes with shared access, terraces, and gardens. Maisonettes also occupy the top two levels of the large slab with entrance from a continuous gallery at the 7th floor.

Alexandra road is a pretty good example of the Brutalist style that was prevalent during the late Fifties and Sixties — you’ve got fab structures such as Brunswick centre, the Tricorn shopcentre, and Alton west estate, among several others. As stated, Alexandra road Housing is Brutalism’s take on the old Victorian era style of terraced housing; vast rows of homes that are built shoulder-to-shoulder, sharing adjacent walls. The apparent lack of space makes it look a wee bit grim on first glance, but there’s a certain romanticism about them — ever see ‘Coronation street’? Well, these apartments would be Coronation street 2099.

Still in use to this day, the clean and well-defined lines of this distinctive housing project only falls short in one respect — it failed to inspire more architects to repeat the style elsewhere. I suppose that makes Alexandra road Housing that much more special

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

This was the Future, Vol.19 on November 30th, 2005

This was the Future, Vol.18 on November 10th, 2005

3 have spoken to “This was the Future, Vol.28”

  1. SafeTinspector writes:

    Did you coin that yourself?
    I agree, this is a cool place. Humans should live in drawers or beehives.

  2. Davecat writes:

    Did I coin ‘Brutalist’ myself? Heh, I wish..

  3. SafeTinspector writes:

    Gotta love the pictures on that Wiki entry.

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