Modern Architecture

Zines by Damien Looney

The council blocks were largely erected in the post-war period and in the decades thereafter as a way to house both displaced and impoverished Londoners. They served as new homes for those and clean, safe spaces when they cleared the remaining slum areas of the city.

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La Défense by Damien Looney

Visiting Paris in September 2017 (to see the incredible Irving Penn Exhibition at the Grand Palais), I took some time to visit the ‘La Défense’ region, located on the western side of the city.

The region is the largest purpose built business area in Europe (building began in the 1950’s, with the more modern looking skyscrapers appearing from the late 1970’s onwards) and is worth exploring on foot.

If you are going to visit, do so on the weekend. As with any business district, anywhere in the world, it is packed full of people during the working week. On the weekend though it’s a ghost town, and this will allow you walk and explore at your own pace.

Croydon by Damien Looney

In the 1960's and 70's Croydon, in South London, saw a surge in the construction of new, modern office blocks and skyscrapers. This surge in building was thanks in part to the big push from the local Council (via the Croydon Corporation Act, 1956), and the need for building space outside of central London. This led to the construction of over 40 towers and skyscrapers in the area, along with redevelopment of the town to make it more traffic friendly. Quite a few of these buildings (No. 1 Croydon, Lunar House, Nestlé Tower) have developed an iconic status, and their styles won't be found anywhere else in London. For a fan of modern architecture, the area is gem.

And just like the period in the 60's and 70's, the town is undergoing some huge reconstruction and demolition works again. On my last visit (August 2018), scaffolding had just been started at the base of the Nestlé Tower. This will go up quickly, and the facade will fade from view forever. The brutalist buildings of the former campus of Croydon College (behind Fairfield Halls) are being demolished, making way for new housing. The same fate is about to be visited upon the former Royal Mail office in East Croydon. Leon House is just on the cusp of welcoming its first tenants following the conversion from office block to apartments, with many more former office buildings awaiting conversion into flats and apartments. 

Visit these buildings while are still here because there really is nowhere else like this in London.