LSA Professor Mark Swenarton's Cook’s Camden Exhibition Opens

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Cook’s Camden Wide

An exhibition based on Prof Mark Swenarton’s recently published book Cook’s Camden: The Making of Modern Housing opens today (Monday 5th February) at the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre in Holborn Library.

Devised and curated by Prof Mark Swenarton, the Cook’s Camden exhibition presents some of the photographs of both interiors and exteriors by Tim Crocker taken specially for the book, as well as original black and white photographs by Martin Charles. It has been designed by Stefi Orazi, the designer of the book, as a self-contained 'table-top' exhibition so that it can travel elsewhere – including, later this year, to the School of Architecture at Liverpool and other professional venues.

The housing projects built in Camden in the 1960s and 1970s when Sydney Cook was borough architect – which include Alexandra Road, Branch Hill and Highgate New Town - are widely regarded as the most important urban housing built in the UK in the past 100 years. Cook recruited some of the brightest talent available in London at the time and the schemes set out a model of street-based housing that continues to command interest and admiration from architects to this day. The exhibition focuses on six schemes designed by Neave Brown – the recent recipient of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture 2018 – as well as Benson & Forsyth and Peter Tábori.

The exhibition has been organized by Prof Swenarton as a thank-you to the tenants and residents who assisted his research by allowing him, and his photographer, into their homes. As such it forms part of the programme of engagement with the local community, through lectures, exhibitions and walks, which has been a continuing theme of his Cook’s Camden research.

Mark Swenarton says:

"All too often books on housing say little about the interiors because they are difficult to access. With Cook’s Camden I was determined to rectify this and I was helped enormously by the many tenants and residents who allowed me into their homes to make detailed on-site surveys, often not just once but repeatedly - and in many cases with Tim Crocker and his photographic equipment.

Everyone who has seen the book has commented on how much these interior photographs add to the whole presentation, so I wanted to say thank-you to those who made it possible."

The exhibition runs from Monday 5th February to Friday 27th April at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre, 2nd Floor, Holborn Library, 32-28 Theobalds Road, London WC1X 8PA. Admission is free.

The opening hours are:
Monday, Tuesday, 10-6
Thursday, 10-7
Friday, 10-5
Alternate Saturdays (from 17th February), 11-5.

More information is on the exhibition is available here from Camden Council.

Prof Swenarton is giving a lecture on Cook's Camden at the Liverpool School of Architecture on Thursday 15th February at 5.30pm.

Mark Swenarton’s book, Cook’s Camden: The Making of Modern Housing, is published by Lund Humphries (2017).