London’s unsung social housing architecture gets a fresh look in new book The Council Estate

Some council estates in London have been given celebrity status. Some council estates in London have been given celebrity status after Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower was controversially converted into private flats. The marketing suite even sold tote bags with an image of the Modernist high rise. But there are many other lesser-known estates that are just as architecturally important, if they are not as well preserved. Jack Young, a south London photographer, has published a book about these “undermined” and underfunded buildings. Young, a product designer, spent many years searching every inch of the capital for the most photogenic housing projects. His collection of 68 photos is now The Council House. It features personal interviews with residents as well as insights into the buildings’ design. Young stated that he hopes that by highlighting the beauty of some estates, the book will challenge negative perceptions people may have about council housing and its architecture. These estates are often used as backdrops for gritty television dramas, or encapsulated with imposing black-and-white photography. “The timing of the project is perfect, as the UK is currently experiencing a revival in council housing. The last few years have seen a steady increase in local authority-funded housebuilding after decades of inactivity. The Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building was awarded to Goldsmith St in Norwich, a council housing project. This is the first time that the Stirling Prize has been awarded. Sadiq Khan, who announced that the number of homes being built in London every year has increased sixfold since 2018, praised the “resurgence” in council housebuilding. Sadiq Khan, who announced that the number of homes being built by councils in London had increased sixfold since 2018, said that the number of homes started each year has increased sixfold. Work began on more than 11,000 homes since 2018. The 1967 tiled housing estate was designed and built by Julian Keable & Partners, with mock-classic pillars, and was commissioned to the now-defunct Kensington Metropolitan Borough Council. Young is seen in Roehampton on the Alton West slab towers, which are part of the Alton Estate, which has over 13,000 residents. Some buildings in the estate are due to be demolished as part of Wandsworth Council’s controversial plans. Each flat was completed in 1972. Macintosh tried to include a balcony in each flat, arguing that they were fire escapes. Young also captures small details like the impressive curved slide in a children’s play area on Westminster’s Brunel Estate. Trellick Tower by Jack YoungThe slide cascades down a massive brick wall and is one of the UK’s most important pieces of play equipment that is Grade II listed. Young describes the estate’s balance of heavy architecture and quiet moments of urban tranquility as a “masterclass” in urban design. Young also mentions a staircase in Skinner’s Bailey and Lubetkin’s Bevin Court in Islington, as well as the multi-coloured stained windows of Trellick tower. Young wrote that the foyer of the tower is bathed in “euphoric lighting” like entering a concrete cathedral. Young’s favourite image is the Trellick stained-glass. It offers a glimpse into the concrete behemoth’s lesser-known depths, a world that belongs only to its residents. “READ MOREBuying an ex council house in London: The pros and cons. How to zone a space: An ingenious eco-refit of a rundown studio apartment on the City of London’s Golden Lane Estate. Young said that although council housing is an integral part of London, it has been undervalued, ignored, and at worst, actively avoided. This book aims to change the script. The book highlights the beauty and individualism of these socially important buildings, and aims to challenge stereotypes. We also hope to restore some pride that was once felt towards them. Hoxton Mini Press publishes “The Council House” by Jack Young.