A Chronological Guide to the History of Arrival Sequences in British Housing

The idea of the arrival sequence (and by implication departure) focuses on how this architectural slice knits, connects and links not just individual homes but home and the city. This architectural slice is seen as an arena where the identity of the home, from the outside as a destination (partly symbolic), is constructed. In additional, this identity construction is inextricable from the way in which individual identity is constructed (as home dweller, urban citizen, drifter, neighbourhood member, etc.). The configuration of territories and spaces along an arrival sequence are also instrumental in the construction of identities associated with blocks, neighbourhoods, districts and city-fragments. It is a discreet architectural arena that bridges buildings and urbanism, people and objects.

Wherever possible I have tried to locate the first instance of a particular arrival configuration. However, this is not the purpose of the study. More important than identifying origins is providing an outline of the many entry configurations that have been invented in British housing over the last 200 years. The catalogue is not intended as a ‘best of’ list; I am certain that significant examples have been overlooked. Some examples are full of potential but have never been repeated while others have proliferated despite their tendency to isolate their inhabitants from the street and city. For now ‘city’ is taken in its widest and loosest sense incorporating suburbs, towns and any built up territory. Housing is taken to mean any grouping of homes where an intentional collective identity is intended.

The timeline begins with the Georgian terrace. The reasons for this are a combination of needing to limit the study and the mythical status the Georgian terrace has in academic and popular discussions on housing. It is generally believed that the type is adaptable, urban, individual, and flexible. It is also celebrated for its potential to generate different urban configurations. The starting point, however, remains arbitrary; the Georgian terrace is not intended as a perfect starting point or resolution from which we have strayed. Rather it is taken as a benchmark for its direct house to street relationship and complexity of its threshold. It has served both as a model that architects have returned to in order to reinvigorate the design of housing as well as a model held up to critique many of the forms of housing that have emerged afterwards.

Catalogue notes: Dates are for completion rather than design or start of construction. In some cases a design and construction date is provided. Each numbered entry is for a new or significantly modified entry sequence. Similar variations of note are listed under ‘see also’. After each brief description the ‘schema’ lists the diagrammatic stages of arrival noting where clear boundaries can be identified and where thresholds are suggested. Unit identity refers to the legibility of individual units within the overall organisational strategy. As much as is possible the site maps are to the same scale (though variable based on your screen resolution). Most will have a graphic scale in the bottom corner.

Methodology

Most of the commentaries accompanying the entries are based on preliminary observations of the projects. In a few cases the projects have undergone more detailed scrutiny as part of earlier studies. The approach is based on my in-depth analysis of block B of Alexandra Road. You can find this in chapter 13 of The Responsibility of Form. Chapters 5, 6 & 7 provide the theoretical ground based on structuralism and theories of the everyday. Chapters 8, 9 & 10 examine movement in architecture and urban spaces using these theoretical frameworks. Chapter 12 uncovers the issue of territorial identity which forms another undercurrent to the study of arrival sequences in housing. Condensed versions of the approach, using Alexandra Road as a case study have been published in Occupation: negotiations with constructed space (Brighton: University of Brighton, 2011) and Housing Solutions through Design (Faringdon, Oxfordshire: Libri Press, 2017).

Each project has been examined through plans and sections alongside archival and contemporary photographic accounts. The London Picture Archive has been a major source of the archival imagery allowing for an examination of the original spatial conditions of the housing entry sequence. Where visits have not yet been possible Google Street View has been used to survey the current configuration and use of the spaces. The online archive of previous street views is used to trace changes in patterns of occupation or adaptations to the architecture. In general this allows a sketchy survey of visual analysis going back to 2008 and often provides views of the housing in differing light conditions and seasons. On occasion letting or sales agency photographs are used to view interior lobby and circulation conditions. Other online photographic databases are also reviewed but generally not reproduced due to copyright restrictions. Where projects are of historical note published material is reviewed (books, academic and trade journals, etc.) and for projects that have been demolished newspaper archives often provide some background.

At a later date analytical drawings will be added to highlight the threshold, boundary and territorial identities described in the text.

The technique of comparative photography, used in the Alexandra Road study, is constructed as far as possible using the above sources. 51 of approximately 130 projects have been visited, some repeatedly over a period of 20 years. These preliminary studies will be used to identify those projects that are worth further study and eventually condensed into a selective overview of arrival sequences. It is probably safest to admit that the kind of in-depth study carried out for Alexandra Road will not be possible with this number of projects. The intent is to offer enough of a description of the uniqueness and contribution of each type to generate interest in others to look more closely.

There is a google map with all the estates located along side many others (which are part of a second study on post-war London housing). You can find this here:

Housing Entry Sequence Location Map

Image credits

 

This site is part of ongoing academic research and is for education purposes only. All images are used in an educational academic purpose and have been sources from sites that allow their use for this purpose. If you find an image for which you require rights agreement please notify the author by leaving a comment.

 

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