Eric Parry hails one bucolic estate in the Square Mile, and rails against many, many others, all over the country
This is a view into the centre of the Golden Lane Estate, in the City of London, designed by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon. Although they achieved a high-density housing scheme, the residential buildings were conceived as a framework to contain the gardens and urban landscapes into which they incorporated shops, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a gym and a community centre. It is a generous and well used environment that, together with the carefully considered architecture of the flats, makes most recent schemes look clumsy and mean spirited.
I could choose from a depressingly long list of edge of town neo-vernacular examples of housing schemes that do not have the critical mass to support community facilities or shared public space. The appeal to the fairytale dream of an autonomous Arcadian existence is depressingly represented by the bizarre desire to create rooms with tiny defensive windows. We all need to celebrate life with the diurnal drama of daylight and communicative space.
Eric Parry is the principal of Eric Parry Architects. The practice’s Aldermanbury Square, designed as part of the City of London’s Street Scene initiative, will open on 21 November