Fleet Road Estate

Neave Brown (1971-77)

Designed in 1966, the estate was one of the first applications of a distinct ‘Camden style’ which emerged from the Council’s Architects’ Department, headed by Sydney Cook, in the 1960s and 70s. The philosophy, developed by Brown and encouraged by Cook, shunned high rise tower blocks, standardised plans and industrial building techniques for low-rise, high-density, complex-sectional housing.

The estate comprises 3 parallel blocks containing 71 dwellings with the easternmost block rising to 4 storeys while the other two being at most 3 storeys. The eastern and central blocks overlook a shared paved deck, open at both ends, which is punctuated with light wells to allow light to reach an underground car park that lies beneath. The western block overlooks another communal area and the back of the central block. Each block is stepped in section which allows each front door to have direct access to a public walkway, in contrast to the shared entrances in contemporary tower blocks. To further encourage communality the walkways giving access to upper dwellings also give access to shared roof gardens. As intended by Brown, the starkness of the concrete block work houses is contrasted with the combination of use of timber, for doors, windows, fences and balcony fronts, and the resident’s individually-planted gardens.

By the time of Dunboyne’s and its larger successor, Alexandra Road’s, completion the Brown and Cook model had become fairly orthodox due to the Ronan Point disaster discrediting tower blocks and the growing backlash against wholesale demolition of historic neighbourhoods. The impact the estate had was recognised in 2010 with a Grade II listing.

As a caveat, Neave Brown currently lives on the estate and has been campaigning to remove the fences that currently surround the estate.