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New book celebrates Camden's brutalist architecture - plus a map

PUBLISHED: 19:09 14 December 2016

The book maps out the key sites of brutalist architecture in every London borough - starting with Camden

The book maps out the key sites of brutalist architecture in every London borough - starting with Camden

Simon Phipps

Brutal buildings from Camden's golden age of architecture are documented in stunning black and white by photographer Simon Phipps - and handily mapped out in his new book.

Brutal London, Simon Phipps, £14.99, September Publishing.Brutal London, Simon Phipps, £14.99, September Publishing.

A new book of black and white photography documenting the post-war architectural gems of Camden has been published in time for Christmas.

Brutal London, by Simon Phipps, is a photographic exploration of London’s more severe buildings, realised fittingly in stark black and white images.

Phipps has spent 15 years photographing these striking buildings across London, not least in Camden.

The 1960s were a golden age of architecture for Camden.

The low-rise, high-density design of the Alexandra Road Estate stood out in an era of high-rise social housingThe low-rise, high-density design of the Alexandra Road Estate stood out in an era of high-rise social housing

Formed in 1965, the new local council channelled a generous housing budget into high quality social housing projects, overseen by borough architect Sydney Cook.

In just eight years Cook and his crack team of graduate architects pursued a radical post-war rebuilding program in a new style of brutalist architecture

The architectural movement spanned the post war years from the 1950s to the mid-1970s and was born out of the modernist architectural movement of the first half of the 20th century, with its focus on functionality and use of modern materials such as reinforced concrete.

Brutalist architecture is defined by its use of modular, repeating structures, frequently realised in board-marked concrete, its distinctive textured surfaces created by casting the material in situ.

The Ingestre Road Estate in kentish Town, NW5, was designed by John Green and completed in 1971The Ingestre Road Estate in kentish Town, NW5, was designed by John Green and completed in 1971

Phipps has photographed the local iconic buildings of the era, including the Alexandra Road Estate in South Hampstead.

Designed by Neave Brown and completed in 1976, the 15 acre site was one of Camden council’s last major housing projects.

In contrast to the high rise towers being commissioned by other council’s at the time, the Alexandra Road Estate adhered to Brown’s principles of low-rise, high-density building.

In NW1 over by Regent’s Park an early adopter of the style is the Grade I listed Royal College of Physicians dovetails neatly into the Regency terraces of John Nash.

The Royal College of Architecture echoes the white stucco of the nearby Nash terraces with mosaic tilesThe Royal College of Architecture echoes the white stucco of the nearby Nash terraces with mosaic tiles

Designed by Denys Lasdun and completed in 1960, its white mosaic tiles reflect the surrounding white stucco facades.

In NW3 No. 78 South Hill Park is an example of a private Hampstead home executed in the brutalist style.

Built in 1965 by Brian Housden as his own private residence and was inspired by the European arm of modernism, particularly the work of Dutch architects Gerrit Rietveld and Aldo Van Eyck.

Phipps’ photography acts as both a comprehensive guide to this important architectural movement and an original window on to its distinctive aesthetic.

No. 78 South Hill Park in Hampstead, NW3, is a Grade II listed private houseNo. 78 South Hill Park in Hampstead, NW3, is a Grade II listed private house

The book is divided according to each of London’s inner boroughs, with each section featuring a map of the area with all the photographed sites marked.

The prospective brutalist flâneur could easily while away a happy few hours exploring Camden’s urban architectural masterpieces.

But if tramping the streets in the dead of winter sounds a little too, well, brutal, you could choose to curl up at home and explore Phipp’s sumptuous photographs.

It would also make an ideal Christmas gift for any friends who are fans of modern architecture, or generous stocking filler for the photography lover in your life.

The Camden Ambulance Station in Gospel Oak, NW3, was designed by Henry White and built in 1975The Camden Ambulance Station in Gospel Oak, NW3, was designed by Henry White and built in 1975

Brutal London, Simon Phipps, £14.99, September Publishing.

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