Monday, May 31, 2010


As the last mass Council development in London, Alexandra Road estate is a magnificent but anomalous coda to British social housing - not so much a block of flats as a self-contained village in the middle of Swiss Cottage. Film crews arrive at this late-Brutalist, serpentine slab of concrete when they reach a scene (usually in a crime drama) which calls for a visual signifier of broken Britain. To their surprise, however, they must bring their own rough looking actors and strew their own mattresses along the passageways - for however fearsome it may look, the Alexandra Road community generally functions rather peaceably.

The residents have made a documentary about the estate - and specifically how its design affects everyday life. Some have lived there all their lives, some have moved there more recently; some are aware of its architectural significance, others less so; some love it, others - in particular, a po-faced gentleman with books on Buddhism on his mantelpiece - are not impressed. Nobody is unduly romantic - not even Neave Brown, the architect, who also contributes.

You can watch the film here.


Post a Comment

<< Home