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Alton Estate

London, United Kingdom
1 of 8
Alton Estate landscape

The Alton Estate is a large council estate situated in Roehampton, southwest London. One of the largest council estates (public housing) in the UK, it occupies an extensive area of land west of Roehampton village and runs between the Roehampton Lane through-road and Richmond Park Golf Courses.

Designed by a London County Council design team led by Rosemary Stjernstedt, the estate is renowned for its mix of low and high-rise modernist architecture consisting of Alton East (1958) styled a subtle Scandinavian-influenced vernacular and its slightly later counterpart: Alton West (1959). At Highcliffe Drive on Alton West the LCC essentially retained the Georgian landscape and placed within it five ultra-modern slab blocks: Binley, Winchfield, Dunbridge, Charcot and Denmead Houses, inspired by Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation.

Overall, the estate has over 13,000 residents, making it one of the largest in the United Kingdom. The architecture is mainly split between brutalist architecture and its Scandinavian-inspired counterpart.

Alton East

The Alton East Estate consists of slab blocks, point blocks and low-level housing. The design represents a desire to formulate a British version of modernism that was more sensitive to context and referenced a traditional vernacular.

Alton West

Alton West was in 1955 considered to be the crowning glory of post-World War II social housing. What made Alton West so special at the time was its response to its setting. Built on a large expanse of parkland on the edge of Richmond Park, Alton West was a direct translation of Le Corbusier's idea of the Ville Radieuse or park city, sets of "point" and "slab" blocks being surrounded by the beauty of Richmond Park below. On this natural landscape at Alton West stood a number of different housing configurations: 12-storey "point" blocks with four flats per floor; terraces of low-rise maisonettes and cottages; and, perhaps most famously, five 11-storey "slab" blocks, heavily influenced by the recently completed Unite d'Habitation by Le Corbusier.

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timsawford, June 15th, 2023
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