‘This isn’t at all like London’: life in Walter Segal’s self-build anarchist estate

'this isn't at all like london': life in walter segal's self-build anarchist estate
Walters Way residents Alice Grahame, her husband Paul and their daughter. // © James Drew Turner

When visitors arrive at my unconventional street, their first comment is usually: “This isn’t at all like London”. Nestled among trees on a hillside, the 13 half-timbered boxes are routinely mistaken for prefabs, an artists’ colony, Swiss chalets, eco-houses, a kibbutz, Scandinavian holiday cabins, Jamaican beach houses – or even a Japanese temple.

In fact, they are the product of an unusual 1980s self-build housing project designed by the pioneering architect Walter Segal, and run by the London Borough of Lewisham in south London.

The cul-de-sac is the result of a collaboration between enlightened councillors keen to shorten the housing waiting list, a group of determined locals and a visionary Berlin-born modernist architect. Walter Segal may not be a household name, but he was the only living architect to have two London streets named after him: Walters Way and Segal Close – names chosen by the residents.

Segal died 30 years ago, in October 1985, before Walters Way was finished. The street has welcomed visitors as part of London Open House weekend since 1989, but this year’s event, from 19–20 September, will be extra special, with a day of talks followed by three Segal/self-build streets being opened to the public on the Sunday: Walters Way, Segal Close and Greenstreet Hill. The Architecture Foundation has also made a new short film about our housing estate. []

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
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About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

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