Cook’s Camden exhibition comes to the LSA

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Cooks Camden LSA
Photo by Tim Crocker

An exhibition based on Prof Mark Swenarton’s highly acclaimed recent book Cook’s Camden: The Making of Modern Housing opens today at the Liverpool School of Architecture.

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 to a number of destinations.

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 by Benson & Forsyth and by Peter Tábori.

The exhibition was originally shown at the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre in London. It was organized - and paid for - by Prof Swenarton primarily as a thank-you to the tenants and residents who assisted his research by allowing him, and his photographer, into their homes, in many cases on numerous occasions.

Mark Swenarton says:

"All too often books on housing contain 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."

Accompanying the photographs are explanatory texts and a selection of the newly produced plans and sections which were specially redrawn for the book, many by former LSA student Paul Wynn.

The exhibition will remain on show in the Stephenson Gallery at the LSA until the end of June. Admission is free.


Mark Swenarton is taking part in a panel discussion on housing at RIBA North, 21 Mann Island, L3 1BP on 11th June at 6pm. Details: 0151 703 0107.

Cook’s Camden: The Making of Modern Housing is published by Lund Humphries at £45.