A wonderful Walter Segal Exhibition

I went to the Architectural Association today for a talk by Jon Broome to open an exhibition there about Walter Segal’s life and work

Half the room focuses on his early work which did not include self build but did include some furniture that he built.P1040272

There are several beautiful Segal drawings of his visions.


This half of the room  also was encased in  a skeleton of a Walter Segal’s self build building


There was  a model  that had been in a cupboard since 1988 and had just been found.

In the other side of the room, which focuses on Walter Segal today,  is a new model using Walter Segal’s principles  showing what his buildings might look like in another’s hands.


Jon is working with RUSS a very exciting community led self build group in  South London. The design also reflects Segal’s influence.  Have a look at their project here: http://www.theruss.org/


Please get to this wonderful exhibition if you can.

Exhibition: Walter’s Way: The Self-Build Revolution
Where: Architectural Association School of Architecture 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES
When: 16 January 2016 – 13 February 2016
Mondays to Fridays, 10am – 7pm, Saturdays 10am – 5pm
Free entry






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Day out at Springhill Co-Housing Community, Stroud

A few weeks ago i went to visit a friend who has moved to Springhill Co-housing Community in Stroud. I had been before many years ago when it was being built.The project is now  11 years old and much more weathered and lived in. It was looking really beautiful in the autumn light. It is  a short walk from the centre of town and built on land that is difficult to build on (a steep slope) but this gives it magnificent view. What they have done is impressive.  There are issues for me with it, like it mostly for sale,  but the main thing is they have done it!

From the website:

Springhill Cohousing is near the centre of Stroud in Gloucestershire. It is the first new-build cohousing scheme to be completed in the UK. There are 34 units, ranging from one bedroomed flats to five bedrooomed houses. There is a three-storey common house with a kitchen where meals are cooked and served three times a week – other shared meals and community-based social activities happen there too. http://www.therightplace.net/coco/public/

Some of my photos:


The Common House



The housing looks lived in and softened with planting..


The main way



The chickens…


Veg beds….



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We were quoted on CNN!

We are at the end…

Can a commune revival fix London housing crisis?

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Fantastic Day at Walter’s Way

We have to thank the people of Walter’s Way for a spectacular  and historic day last Saturday. 19 September. As part of Open House London they organised a day of talks with three important people  highly knowledgeable about Walter Segal and his design method. I felt part of a very special event and rare event.

The first speaker was John McKean who knew Segal, has visited  his buildings and  wrote a book about Segal’s work. The book is now out of print and very sought after but he is thinking of reprinting it. Please do!


The second speaker was Walter’s son,  John Segal,  gave a more personal reminisce of his father and his work


The third speaker was Jon Broome, an architect who worked with Segal as a young man and knew his ideas about building design and self build from experience.


It was a real honour to be in the company of these men telling us their personal memories of Segal, their understanding of his building techniques  and how the  1980s self builds in Lewisham came about. I was reminded of why Segals’ ideas are so important and relevant .


This model is what Segal used to allow people to design their own homes.


A model of a Segal build.

After watching the film made about Segal building method and the self builders of Walter’s Way. the BBC documentary film; “The House That Mum and Dad Built (1982) , we looked around one of the resident’s house and at all the changes they have made. They are beautiful buildings and cosy and practical homes.


Thank you so much the families of Walter’s Way for letting us come into your homes and also for realising that you live in a historic place that needs to be shown particularly at this point in London’s housing history.

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Could you live in a small space?

LCNC thinks that we have to start living in much smaller private spaces – using public spaces as our party, meeting space and guest rooms – more like the continent has always done. Space is  a resource which is in short supply just as clean air, water and energy are.

I rented a small flat/room in Paris for a few days when there on holiday and realised that the room was the size of private space of the future.  It was 3m x 4m floor space with a tiny kitchen and full bathroom. Not only that it was an attic space so while most of the ceiling height was 2.50m much of it sloped down to 1m.

People already live in small spaces!

The Bathroom

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The table and wardrobe


The front door opposite the kitchen


The Kitchen


The bedroom/sitting room part of the spaceP1020109 P1020110

What do you think? Could you  live in this small a space?

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Even the Ham and High are getting into it!

Have a look at this…

How to self build in 10 easy steps. I particularly like the first one! If only it were that easy!

Not that useful for Londoners but still a good effort!

Ten top tips for self builders

14:00 24 June 2015

PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

Building your own house may seem like an impossible dream in London and it’s true that relatively few people do it. But it is possible. Here’s how.

1. Finding a plot of land with detailed planning permission for a house is a safe bet, but, of course, it may not be the house you want to build. Unless the plans can be changed, you may prefer to take a risk on a plot without planning permission, or with outline planning permission. The latter grants permission on the principle that the land can be developed, while detailed planning specifies the design of the building.

2. You can search for land on property websites like zoopla.co.uk and rightmove.co.uk, where it’s for sale through estate agents. Land agents, who specialise in selling land, and auction houses are often a better bet, as are specialist plot websites, such as PlotSearch at buildstore.co.uk. Local newspapers and property magazines may contain ads for land for sale, or you could place a ‘land wanted’ ad. You could even drive around your search area, looking for land that’s for sale or may be suitable as a building plot.

3. Don’t discount existing buildings – knocking something down and starting again can be a good way to get a great plot. As well as the location and chances of obtaining planning permission, consider the value of the land (or rather its value to you) and how you can get services and vehicles to it. Poor access will make the project harder and more expensive, and could even stop it getting off the ground.

4. As well as a plot, a good architect is essential. Not only will they translate your vision into reality, they can also enhance it with ideas of their own, coming up with things you hadn’t thought of and solving problems. A good architect will also help you obtain planning permission, can manage the build and the pre-build process, and can source and manage the various professionals and contractors needed.

5. Financing a self-build isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s certainly possible. Selling your home, or releasing the equity in it, is one option – ideal for buying the building plot, for example – but many self-builders need a loan for the project. A self-build mortgage is a popular choice, as the money is released in stages as the building work progresses.

6. To qualify for a self-build mortgage, you’ll have to provide more information than for a standard residential mortgage, such as the plans for the new house, the projected build costs, and proof of planning permission. If you haven’t sold your home and want to continue living in it during the build, you should be able to have a self-build mortgage alongside your existing mortgage, providing the figures stack up.

7. As with any big building project, it’s important to have a sizeable contingency fund in case anything goes wrong with your finances or the build. Self-builders can claim back the VAT on building materials and services, so building a home has financial advantages. The building materials and methods you choose will have a big impact on the cost of the project, although there are, of course, practical and aesthetic considerations as well as financial ones.

8. Timber frame houses are popular with self-builders because they can be erected quickly. Wood is also natural, environmentally friendly and visually appealing. And it’s more durable than you might think – softwood frames can last around 200 years. Frames made of softwood, such as Douglas fir, are cheaper than those made of hardwood, such as oak, but oak is commonly used and can be expensive. Another disadvantage is that a timber frame can restrict the design of the house, as the structure has its limitations.

9. An alternative to a timber frame is a steel one. Steel frames allow more flexibility with the design and are strong, resistant to the weather and quick to put up. Other building materials and methods include brick and block, where houses have internal blockwork walls and external brick or stone ones; straw bale, where the bales are typically covered in render; permanent insulated formwork systems, which are a quick and practical way of building insulated walls; and cob, where a straw, earth/clay, sand and water mixture is used for the walls.

10. One of the great things about self-building is that it’s easy to make your home environmentally friendly because you’re starting from scratch. As well as obvious things, like insulating as much as possible and choosing energy-efficient windows, self-builders can incorporate big eco home improvements, such as solar panels, heat pumps and grey-water recycling systems in a more cost-effective way than homeowners who have to retrofit them. Combine measures like these with environmentally-friendly building materials and you can create an extremely green self-build. Ask your architect about this at an early stage so it can be incorporated into the design.


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Visit to Beethoven Street Community Centre World Food Event


Dee and I went to this great event last Wednesday.

The Beethoven Centre is a fantastic resource for the local area.

It was well attended  with delicious  food from every continent.

These photos just give a little flavour  of what the afternoon.

Thank you Beethoven Centre!


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