The housing projects built in Camden in the 1960s and 1970s when Sydney Cook was borough architect are widely regarded as the most important urban housing built in the UK in the past 100 years. Cook recruited some of the brightest talent available in London at the time and the schemes - which included Alexandra Road, Branch Hill, Fleet Road, Highgate New Town and Maiden Lane - set out a model of housing that continues to command interest and admiration from architects to this day.
The Camden projects represented a new type of urban housing based on a return to streets with front doors. In place of tower blocks, the Camden architects showed how the required densities could be achieved without building high, creating a new kind of urbanism that integrated with, rather than broke from, its cultural and physical context.
This book examines how Cook and his team created this new kind of housing, what it comprised, and what lessons it offers for today. New colour photographs combine with original black and white photography to give a fascinating 'then and now' portrayal not just of the buildings but also of the homes within and the people who live there.
Mark Swenarton is an architectural historian, critic and educator. He was founding editor of the international journal Construction History and co-founded and edited the monthly review Architecture Today. He was Head of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University and was the first James Stirling Chair of Architecture at Liverpool University, where he is now Emeritus Professor. His most recent book is Architecture and the Welfare State (2015).
Foreword; Preface; Chapter 1: Introduction; Chapter 2: Sydney Cook at Camden: geared to producing ideas, with the emphasis on youth; Chapter 3: Developing a new format for urban housing: Neave Brown and Fleet Road; Chapter 4: Creating a piece of city: Neave Brown at Alexandra Road; Chapter 5: A city on a hill: Peter Tabori at Highgate New Town; Chapter 6: Class war in Hampstead: the battle of Branch Hill; Chapter 7: The poetics of housing: Benson and Forsyth at Branch Hill; Chapter 8: Gospel Oak: from Powell & Moya to Benson and Forsyth; Chapter 9: Only connect: Benson and Forsyth at Maiden Lane; Chapter 10: Urban dentistry: Edward Cullinan and Colquhoun & Miller; Chapter 11: Politics versus architecture: the Alexandra Road public enquiry of 1978-81; Chapter 12: Conclusion: Cook's Camden today; Appendix 1: `Sydney Cook as I knew him': recollections by Neave Brown, Frank Dobson, John Green, Martin Morton and Peter Tabori; Appendix 2: Neave Brown, 'The form of housing' (1967); Appendix 3: Cook's Camden A-Z; Cook's Camden Map; Abbreviations; Notes; Index