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The Other Architects Who Made London: Planning and Design of Speculative Housing c. 1870-1939

Citation: Kroll, David (2013) The Other Architects Who Made London: Planning and Design of Speculative Housing c. 1870-1939. Doctoral thesis, University of London.

Successive house building booms from the late 19th century until the Second World War left their indelible mark on London’s built environment and shaped it decisively. In terms of the sheer size of area covered, the dispersed, suburban London of terraced, semi- and detached houses that we know today was to a large extent created then. Much of this housing was built by private firms for an assumed demand, speculatively. That is the kind discussed in this thesis. Despite this legacy, the questions of who those involved in house design were and how they went about it is an under-researched topic surrounded by assumptions that are often difficult to substantiate. This research takes the contribution of these ‘other’ often anonymous architects seriously and aims to shed more light on a culture of housing design that has left us with such an extraordinary heritage. The thesis is structured in six chapters. The first one outlines the topic and the methodology, and reviews related existing literature. Chapter two examines who the architects and designers of speculative housing were by using a quantitative analysis of Richmond building applications 1886-1939. Chapters three to five focus on one case study each. The first, in chapter three, discusses the planning and development of a speculative housing estate in Lambeth, the Minet estate, and the numerous parties involved in its planning and construction. Chapter four examines the work of Norfolk & Prior, a firm of architect-surveyors in Lewisham, and discusses this particular crossover occupation and its role in speculative housing at the time. Chapter five, the third case study, focuses on the work of the Reader Brothers, one of the numerous small family firms of builders who were important for speculative house building and who also often took a leading role in design. Chapter six considers the key findings of this thesis and further implications of the research for our understanding of the history of London’s housing.

Creators: Kroll, David and
Subjects: History
Divisions: Institute of Historical Research
Centre for Metropolitan History
Collections: Theses and Dissertations
  • October 2013 (completed)


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