On the occasion of the annual President’s Medals 2013, Amy Perkins of London Metropolitan University received Commendation for the SOM Foundation Travelling Fellowship Award and a High Commendation for the RIBA Silver Medal. Amy’s submission is entitled Outer City Settlement.
At one time British housing, in the form of Arts and Crafts architecture, was widely admired. But what people like about it, its material richness, its interest in interiors and furnishings and the role of gardens for example, are not much discussed now. There are a lot of suburbs in London, and it is generally assumed that they will not change. But what if they did change and the density was allowed to rise a bit? What would they look like? The project looks specifically at the suburban situation in Hampstead Garden Suburb whilst also attempting to explore more general methods of suburban densification.
Hampstead Garden Suburb is a quintessential English suburb all be it in an unexpectedly fantastical Arts and Crafts mode. There are semi-detached houses, prim front lawns, lavish private back gardens, family cars on private driveways and a pervading daytime stillness that comes with a commuter population. The suburb has been protected from adaptation, change or modernization since the 1930s. The result is that an inter-war pallor hangs over things conjuring the aura of P.G Wodehouse Trees and hedges have grown and a few garage doors replaced but restrictions mean the suburb is preserved as a museum to Ebeneezer Howard’s Garden City Movement as sublimated in the Garden Suburb. The history of its radical socialist origins is obscured by a rigid exclusivity.
Hampstead Garden Suburb is stuck in time at a low density in a borough tasked with providing 31,000 new homes in the next 10 years. The project asks whether Barnet could address this while recovering the original vision of a green and spacious suburb, designed for all, without pastiche or brutal shifts of scale.
Originally from West Wales, Amy now lives in London and has worked for Caruso St John Architects since 2009.