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Open House London explores social housing past and present

Published date : 9 September 2011

Over 700 new and old buildings across the capital are opening their doors to the public for free during the weekend of 17 and 18 September. Open House London celebrates the buildings, places and neighbourhoods that have contributed to the creation of a vibrant, distinctive city.

This year, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has teamed up with Notting Hill Housing Trust and Trees for Cities to showcase two public housing schemes built 160 years apart; Prince Consort Lodge in Kennington and fabrik on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton. The twinned exhibition will illustrate similarities and differences in the approaches to building social housing over time.

Eleanor Purser from HCA London said:

“These buildings share a concern with space standards and design quality and the use of technology to reduce costs and speed up delivery. They show that applying the best the construction industry of the time can offer to public housing isn’t new. What’s abundantly clear from both of the schemes is that the success of public housing depends to a large extent upon careful consideration of residents’ needs. I urge anyone with an interest in buildings or public housing, past and present, to take this unique opportunity and look around these fascinating developments.”

John Hughes, Notting Hill’s Group Director of Development, said:

“Residents’ desires and expectations are at the very heart of fabrik. We wanted to provide excellent quality homes that were spacious, comfortable and located in a desirable neighbourhood. We achieved this at fabrik using best practice design principles and a contractor whose model could change the way we build affordable homes.”

Victoria Thornton, Open City director, said:

“Open House is the annual opportunity for Londoners to understand the value of well-designed buildings and their contributing role in creating and sustaining a ‘liveable’ city. We are delighted that the HCA has played a part in supporting many of the featured housing developments in 2011. Last year 89% of participants said the Open House event was the best way they knew to get a better understanding about the design of the capital.

Open House London is an annual event that enables people to explore inspirational buildings and learn about how good design makes cities more liveable. Other schemes on this year’s programme with which the HCA has been involved include Barking Riverside, Ravensbourne, Adelaide Wharf, Falcon Works, Woolwich Arsenal, Stonebridge and Spring Gardens.

Prince Consort Lodge and fabrik will be open between 11am and 3pm on Sunday 18 September. Find out more about Open House London by visiting the website


For media information contact Judith Hewitt, HCA London Communications Manager, 0207 633 3484 /

Notes to editors

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the single, national housing and regeneration delivery agency for England.  Our vision is to create opportunity for people to live in homes they can afford in places they want to live, by enabling local authorities and communities to deliver the ambition they have for their own areas. 

Notting Hill Housing Group:

  • Has been delivering vibrant urban regeneration and new developments in London since 1963
  • Manages over 27,000 properties across London and South East England
  • Has helped over 5,500 people get their first foot on the property ladder
  • Runs award-winning employment programmes to get people in to work
  • Works inspirationally with young people so they can fulfil their potential
  • The Group includes: Notting Hill Housing Trust, Notting Hill Home Ownership, Notting Hill Commercial Properties and Notting Hill Developments.

For more information go to the website.  

Prince Consort Lodge, Kennington Park, Kennington Park Road
Commissioned by Prince Albert for the 1851 Great Exhibition, the Lodge celebrates its 160th birthday this year. Described as a “Model House”, it arose from concerns to improve the living conditions of the working poor by demonstrating the good quality, cost effective housing could be built using innovative technology of the time. Now owned by Lambeth Council and occupied by the charity Trees for Cities, the building and its gardens are not usually open to the public.

Fabrik, 116-120 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
Notting Hill Housing and Skanska have teamed up to construct the UK’s first ModernaHus development at fabrik. ‘ModernaHus’ is Skanksa’s pioneering off site construction method which dramatically reduces building times whilst also improving quality and energy efficiency. The development will also minimise construction waste and lifecycle maintenance costs and will deliver 108 one, two, and three bedroom affordable apartments, which will provide accommodation for families, couples and single people.

Trees for Cities manages projects across the UK and Ireland as well as internationally in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Ica, Peru. Community-led design is an integral part of Trees for Cities landscaping projects. By involving local residents, schools and community groups, Trees for Cities seeks to ensure the sustainability of these green spaces.

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