At The Boundary Estate
The Boundary Estate is one of the commonplace wonders of the East End. Hundreds live there and thousands pass through, so that over-familiarity may have rendered it invisible to some. Yet yesterday’s sparkling winter sunlight – that we enjoyed as a brief respite from the procession of rainstorms – offered the opportunity to examine its architecture anew.
Completed in 1900 as Britain’s first Council Estate upon the site of the Old Nichol, the Boundary Estate comprises a series of towers of diverse design, linked by the use of red brick and the inventive employment of vernacular architectural forms. Here are turrets and Dutch gables, and steeply pitched roofs that evoke Medieval tithe barns. Named after villages along the Thames and labelled in ceramic signs made by Doulton, there is an unapologetic Romanticism about these structures which, in their modest Arts & Crafts folksiness, would not look out of place in illustrations by Arthur Rackham or Charles Robinson.
More than a century later, the Boundary Estate continues to serve its purpose and to draw the affection of its inhabitants. The attention to detail and use of quality materials in these buildings coalesce in the realisation of an Estate that is domestic and humane, allowing a large number of people to live in close proximity within a civilised environment.
You may also like to read about