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

The interest in arrival sequences (and by implication departure sequences) is the way in which this architectural slice knits, connects, and links not just individual homes but the home to the city. This architectural slice is seen as an arena where the identity of the home is constructed. In its simplest manifestation its identity is seen as a destination perhaps marked by expected signals and representations that signify ‘home’. More important than the visual and symbolic identity is the way in which the space allows one to practice an recognisable act of ‘coming home’. But in addition this space is part of how we construct our own identities as home dweller, urban citizen, drifter, neighbourhood member, etc. Different architectural configurations aid the construction of identities for blocks, neighbourhoods, districts, and city-fragments. However, the real complexity of this architectural slice, this space, is the mutual and back-and-forth construction of identities; of home and individual, of place and psyche. In reality these are difficult to separate, yet too many architectural studies focus on either the architecture as structure or the inhabitants as agency. This chronological guide is a small first step in an evolving study that hopes to uncover the deeper complexity of this mutual identity formation.

Wherever possible I have tried to locate the first instance of the arrival configuration. However, this is not specifically the purpose of the study. More important than determining 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 here are full of potential but have never been repeated while others have proliferated despite their tendency to isolate its 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. The interest is not in the city per se (over any other type of collective agglomeration) but in the way individual homes are collected to become more than just houses.

The timeline begins with the Georgian terrace. The reasons for this are a combination of a need to limit the study and the near-mythical status the terrace has in academic and popular discussions on housing. It is generally agreed that the type is adaptable, urban, individual, and flexible in use. It is also celebrated for its potential to generate different urban configurations. The starting point, however, is ultimately arbitrary; the Georgian terrace is not meant to be taken as a lost point of perfection and harmony. Like all architectural forms and types it is rooted in the socio-economic, political and cultural forces of its time and has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. It sets a benchmark only in reference to its mythical status as a ‘classic’ type.

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 are set and where thresholds are suggested. Unit identity refers to the legibility of individual units within the overall organisational strategy. Maps have all been scaled to the same size for comparison except for those marked with asterisks (***).

All the descriptions and comments are preliminary – a very early first draft. This document will evolve as projects are added, taken away, and augmented with further documentation as projects are visited, re-visited and further documented. Ultimately I will add analytical drawings identifying the key spatial ingredients of each sequence to allow for comparison across types.

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