The aim in this paper is to consider several interweaving narratives on Kensal House, which was the first housing estate inspired by Modern architecture to be built in Britain, opening in 1936. The analysis focuses on the ways in which architectural theory and everyday life collided at Kensal House—which is situated in Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, London—through a reading of the theories, ideas, and ideals of the designers of the spaces combined with the often neglected narrative of the intended users of these domestic environments, the first inhabitants of the block. The paper offers an analysis of Modern architecture from two contrasting yet often complementary standpoints, considering Kensal House both as an ‘urban village’, as the architects called it, and as the ‘white house’, as it became known by residents of North Kensington. Particular focus will be made on the ways in which people responded to the striking domestic modernities of these blocks. Whereas some conventional narratives seem to argue that the architects had an isolated set of views which were simplistically imposed on their consumers, the argument here is that the relationship was rather more blurred and messy, with a constant dialogue among the interested parties. The debates concerning these spaces are polyvocal, including many, often marginalised, voices in the historical narrative of Modern architecture. Consequently, what is produced here is a complex, and often contradictory, tale—a thick description of home.
|Number of pages||20|
|Specialist publication||Environment and Planning D: Society and Space|
|Publication status||Published - 2004|