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The Passing of an Architectural Giant

“Neave was a pioneer. He showed us how intellectual rigor, sensitive urbanism, and supreme design skill, with determination, could deliver wellbeing to the local community he served so well.”

Ben Derbyshire, RIBA President

An RIBA Gold Medal winner and one widely considered a giant for his contributions, the architectural community suffered the loss of Neave Brown at age 88. He passed on January 9th in London, England. Brown was a celebrated architect and social housing pioneer, best known for his work on three iconic post-war housing designs in London.

Brown was an American-born British architect and artist. He specialized in modernist housing and is best known for his modernist, high-density housing designs across the U.K. He is the only architect to have had all his UK work listed. In October 2017, he won the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects for his 1968 design of Alexandra Road Estate, which is now considered a landmark of British social housing.

The basic design of the complex was determined in 1968, but met with opposition from the Camden Planning Department, who believed that a low-rise development may not reach the required population density. The project was finally approved in 1969, the license granted in 1970 and construction began in 1972. The first residents settled in 1978, although overall it was completed in 1979. It was the first Alexandra Estate housing complex which won the postwar protection grade II in 1993 at that time it was described as “one of the most prominent groups of buildings produced in England since World war exceptional architectural interest.” The property was declared a Conservation Area in 1994.

The property consists of three blocks east to west in parallel, and occupies a site in a crescent shape. Rowley Way has its main entrance on the west, in Abbey Road NW8, the famous Abbey Road immortalized by the Beatles in Camden, in the city of London.

“He brought a thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit to his architecture which has been appreciated by generations of residents of his social housing. It was fitting that the RIBA Gold Medal award last year gave him the opportunity to experience the love that so many have for his work, and for the man.”

John Grindrod, author of Concretopia – a Journey around the Rebuilding of Post War Britain

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london architecture, lighting, design, interior design, adg lighting blog

The Renaissance of London Architecture

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
Samuel Johnson

London is not a city of monuments but a metropolis of glances and slightly hidden surfaces. Once obscured by the fog, it now fades into the drizzle or creates the backdrop for the ebbs and flows of the crowd absorbed more in their phones than the streets they are walking through.

London is not characterized by any particular architectural style, having accumulated its buildings over a long period of time. Few structures predate the Great Fire of 1666, with notable exceptions including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Banqueting House and several scattered Tudor survivors in the City of London.

The city itself contains a wide variety of styles, progressing through Wren’s late 17th-century churches and the financial institutions of the 18th and 19th century such as the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England, to the early 20th century Old Bailey and the 1960s Barbican Estate.

The city’s institutional framework has been severely ruptured and reinvented time and time again after fires, bombs, floods or wholesale redevelopment. Political unrest and racial conflict have resulted in riots, while successive rounds of investment and disinvestment have replaced elements of the built environment many times over.

By 2065, the UK population may rise by 25% to as much as 80.5 million, making it one of the EU’s most populous cities. This will create many challenges. There is a great opportunity for London to evolve and reinvent itself, fostering a better quality of life for their inhabitants.

Check out the latest book New London Architecture, by Edwin Heathcote, architecture and design critic of the Financial Times, and author of more than a dozen books.

Today’s Featured Real Estate

One of our founder’s first major estate projects is now up on the market for over $7 million! 
Designed in the French Baroque Style, Gerald Olesker was inspired by the Church of St. Gervais, France.
These fixtures were designed at the turn of the last century. Made in fine brass with bent forms, cast brass ornamentation, and slumped baroque glass.
Patina in a deep French Green. More photos available upon request.

architecture, custom lighting design, adg lighting

by ADG Lighting, Gerald Olesker