They were however built under the pressures of the three day week and within the budgetary constraints of a remote central government with shifting policies. The unique length, presence and history of the Netherfield streetscape provides a backdrop against which long standing and unresolved questions around the nature of housing, and social housing in particular, are brought into focus. An exhibition by Simon Phipps and Darren Umney.
“Every House on Langland Road”
January 12 – February 10, 2018
Architectural Association London
36 Bedford Square, London
The exhibition brings together a number of representations of Netherfield including original architects’ drawings and photography of the estate as it was built. Material from the archives is juxtaposed with contemporary images which reflect and expose the visual impact of the buildings, the topographical sweep of the site, and the structural aesthetics of architectural photography.
The crisp white geometry of the fins between each house has faded into grey and their once bright edges are now rare and disfigured into spalled fragments of faded colour. The combination of poor quality building materials, unskilled labour, the local authority letting policy and the unaffordable cost of maintaining the various landscape elements around the terraces, all demonstrate a crucial distance between the ideal and the actual. This distance reflects the political and aesthetic aspirations implicit in all design projects. Netherfield has been the subject of much criticism but retains a strong community of residents and remains a unique and striking example of post war British architecture.
A more extensive collection of materials will be shown at the Architectural Association in London in January 2018. A related article will be published in the May 2017 edition of AA Files. The project is the latest collaboration between Simon Phipps and Darren Umney who both spent their formative years in the nascent new city. Simon is a renowned photographer of British post-war architecture. Darren is a writer and researcher with a doctorate in design. The project has benefitted from the financial assistance of Arts Council England and would not have been possible without the ongoing assistance and support of the original architects: Chris Cross, Jeremy Dixon, Mike Gold and Ed Jones. The conceptual precedent of Ed Ruscha’s Sunset Strip is acknowledged.