A new town created on the eastern edge of Greater London, Thamesmead combined brutalism, linear blocks, tower blocks and elevated walkways to create a built environment that looked like nothing that had come before: urban style in almost rural surroundings; a vision of the future. It raises the question how far the principles of mid-20th century modernist design and planning can be reconciled with a sense of identity -- of place and individual.
Thamesmead’s designers succeeded in giving the town identity, with its strong structures standing out in otherwise featureless surroundings. But did the emphasis on modular design, repetition and creation of a sense of community militate against people’s needs to express their identity, to individualise their homes and protect their privacy?
Our walk will focus on the parts of Thamesmead that most closely reflect the original visionary plan: long blocks running through open green space, terraced houses around landscaped courtyards, the views of tower blocks across Southmere Lake that have become the town’s defining image and the lakeside location -- if planned demolition works permit -- of the violent scenes in the cult film A Clockwork Orange which sealed Thamesmead’s reputation -- for better or worse.
11:00 - 13:00
Abbey Wood Railway Station Harrow Manorway Abbey Wood London SE2 9RH SE2 9RH