Alexandra Road Housing

high housing blocks between the site and Kilburn.

The layout comprises two almost parallel pedestrian streets of terraced six- and four-storey housing, between which is a central park. The arrangement is similar to that of Regency or Victorian London and the scale approximates that of nearby Belsize Park.

Noise is blocked from the site by the northernmost terrace, which presents a solid wall of building against the railway track. This block is sound-insulated by anti-vibration pads in the foundations and by double glazing. A set-back section gives each dwelling a balcony open to the sky, catching sun from the east, west and south; it also provides more light and space for the pedestrian streets by reducing overshadowing. From these streets, access is to paired dwellings around external staircases which, in the tall northern block, lead to an upper-level gallery. In addition, at intervals along this terrace, lifts link the gallery to the pedestrian streets and the ground-level garages. The lifts have large glazed panels and are set in glazed shafts. Parallel to the two main streets are paths alongside the park, which join at the vehicle centre, and continue as one. bridging the entry road to connect at ground level with the main pedestrian entrance to the scheme at Loudoun Road.

The project felicitously combines street pattern, which one would have expected to be accompanied with upright row housing, with housing organized along a terrace, which one would associate more with sites overlooking vistas. As a result, both the privacy of the houses is safeguarded and there is a resort-life air of leisure about it.

In addition to the careful proportioning of the units, what gives Alexandra Road a definite civic character and urbaneness is the curving of the street. Without resorting to collective enclosed spaces which most of the time have negative social repercussions, this offers a representation of common ground and common identity to the inhabitants.

Despite these qualities, Alexandra Road fails to overcome those difficulties of maintenance and cost of servicing that are typical of such projects of social housing. Nevertheless, if this remarkable housing has been insufficiently appreciated in the 1980s, it is to be hoped that closer attention will be given to it in the future.

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