Commendation SOM Winner High Commendation
Hampstead Garden Suburb is a quintessential English suburb albeit in an unexpectedly fantastical Arts and Crafts mode. There are semi-detached houses, prim front lawns, lavish private back gardens, family cars on private driveways and a pervading daytime stillness that comes with a commuter population.
However, this place has hidden qualities in its planning, architecture and history, which subtly affect the way it is experienced. Greener than expected, with each plot separated by a lush hedgerow; Hampstead Garden Suburb lives up to its name with neat topiary, overgrown hedges, and lines of trees all delineating ambitious garden spaces.
There are no monotonous rows of terraced facades - houses step forward and back, following sinuous streets. Dormers and chimneys enliven undulating roofs, which are arranged in amongst tree canopies creating picturesque views. All of this leads to a unique village-like atmosphere.
The suburb has been protected from adaptation, change or modernization since the 1930s. The result is that an inter-war pallor hangs over things conjuring the aura of P.G Wodehouse. Trees and hedges have grown and a few garage doors replaced but restrictions mean the suburb is preserved as a museum to Ebeneezer Howard’s Garden City Movement as sublimated in the Garden Suburb. The history of it’s radical socialist origins is obscured by a rigid exclusivity.
Hampstead Garden Suburb is stuck in time at a low density in a borough tasked with providing 31,000 new homes in the next 10 years. My project asks whether Barnet could start to address this while recovering Henrietta Barnet’s vision of a green and spacious suburb, designed for all, without pastiche or brutal shifts of scale.
Peter St John