Great Linford Housing, Milton Keynes

February 8, 2011

For some strange reasons Linford Grid managed to produce more successful housing schemes than many other grids developed at the same time. This may be partly due to small parcels awarded to better known architects and possibly due to  abundance of existing trees and hedges and some notable existing village buildings. This scheme by Brian Frost for 113 housing units in terraced and courtyard houses was like most schemes  designed for rental housing and once again has mainly ended up in private ownership with all associated problems damaging the architectural unity of the original scheme.

The strength of terraced houses around the edges of the site is as powerful as ever despite the bruises and unfortunate alteration occasionally ruining the roof line and fenestration rhythms. The local planning office must take a more rigid line to stop this damaging process in most early housing schemes specially designed as unified communities which is gradually being destroyed.

The fair-faced concrete walls are still looking good and some inventive roof extensions in courtyard housing are logical and witty. The damaged soft clay vertical hanging tiles are easy enough to replace but the ownership problems are stopping even this to be carried out in most places.

The quality and variation of external spaces and circulation with good landscaping still retains the coherence and yet again proves that good intelligent, creative designs are street ahead of acres of soul-less Barratt/Wimpey type mass production of mediocrity currently sweeping the city and even the country.

The plans and B&W photos are attributable to AJ 23 January 1978. B&W photos by John Donat.

The colour photos were taken recently. This series hopes to cover most of the early significant housing in the new city in its early days of development.

3 Responses to “Great Linford Housing, Milton Keynes”

  1. “The local planning office must take a more rigid line to stop this damaging process in most early housing schemes specially designed as unified communities which is gradually being destroyed.”
    So what’s being destroyed? The community (i.e. the ability of people to live together in a shared environment) or the architectural uniformity of the original design?
    18th and 19th century terraces have all been subject to modification over the years, usually through modifications to windows and doors, but also through extensions on the ground and on the roof. What about the 19th century craze for putting false fronts on pitch roofed 18th century housing?
    I guess my point is that age always brings with it some modification – some good, some execrable – but overall they add some variety that we can all adjust to with some comfort.
    I am not sure that I am comfortable with this Stalinist notion that bureaucrats must govern every aspect of our lives. Architecture should be allowed some organic development over time just like everything else.
    Are we offended, for example, that Syrians in the town of Bosra have converted 2nd C Ad buildings in the forum as habitable dwellings? Should we clamp down on this practice immediately

    • winslowhub Says:

      If I had read and understood my own writings in the manner that you have, I would have been livid and abusive (which you are not) towards the author. Funny enough, I couldn’t agree with you more, except there are exception to the rule and you have prompted me to illustrate my views in more details and offer further explanation. I would be happy to do that in near future. Thanks for setting this intelligent challenge which would make me a bit more cautious with the choice of words to avoid future misunderstandings.
      My Blog on Eaglestone and Netherfield based mainly on a critique by Robert Maxwell, a respected architect/ teacher, tackles the issues related to type of housing layouts and their social context which might interest you.

      For the moment following two quotes should indicate that I see what you mean.
      * “…..some inventive roof extensions in courtyard housing are logical and witty.”
      ** “If you are prepared to ignore the architects compulsion to follow niceties about correct appearances, colour matching, sympathetic alterations and litter in key positions, you would have to concede that the discipline and the rigour of the original design has done its job differently, but adequately to offer a safe haven to a distant community (among others) whose arrival could not have been further away from the minds of architects of this remarkable office at the time of designing this project.”
      * taken out of Great Linford Blog.
      ** Taken out of Fishermead Blog

  2. Sorry if I came across as immoderate in my remarks – although I probably was. The very thought of planning police tends to raise my hackles.
    I am all in favour of imagination and sensitivity in the built environment, which is where architects can take the lead, and very much against the bone-headed imposition of rules that originated for reasons that no one can quite remember.
    I am not an architect but as a layperson I can respect the role that the architect can play in society. They don’t always get it right of course, but there are a lot of successes which can nourish the souls of those who live in or with buildings. Your retrospective analyses in your blogs perform a valuable service in this regard.
    Too often perhaps people get the time and place wrong. Classical architecture has, as you know, been successfully reinvented during the Renaissance and in later centuries. When I saw Henry Hobson Richardson’s Romanesque cathedral in Boston a few years ago I was quite astonished. On the other hand, the architects who worked on Prince Charles’ Poundbury folly have, in my view, produced something which is soul-less and quite mean-spirited in their faux classical facades.
    Usually, the people who end up in planning offices, seem to believe that by freezing time they will make life better for all of us.
    In fact I am rather in favour of permitting individual whimsy in changes that are introduced to buildings over the centuries. Yes I know it’s a jolt to the senses when someone faces their brick-built, narrow terraced house with fake ashlar stone, or builds a stucco-faced Spanish Hacienda in Toronto, but these adventures in taste are usually short-lived. Does it matter taht much in the larger scheme of things. Let buildings grow, over time, organically.
    Salisbury, for example, was a planned town in the 14th century, and over a long period of time has experienced additions, deletions, modifications, restoration and demolition, accident and intention, but the overall effect today, from all the higgedly-piggeldy juxtapositions, is one of warmth and visual interest. Will the impression still be the same after 100 years of listing buildings and rigid enforcement of planning codes? I wonder.
    I take on board your earlier post about Fishermead and I find it a cause for celebration that people take it upon themselves to modify their built environment. It’s not always pretty, but it is real.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: