Municipal Dreams

John Scurr House still looks quite special as you glimpse it from the DLR at Limehouse but it has an even more extraordinary history, both in its politics and its architecture.  It started life as a design showpiece – a daring example of municipal modernism and an exemplar of high quality tenement living for council tenants.  It came near to ending it as a slum but for its recent rescue and striking refurbishment.  This blog tells that story, one involving many of the leading names in social housing and addressing many of its key issues.

John Scurr House, 2014 John Scurr House, 2014

The scheme was officially opened in July 1937 but the journey to that proud day for the Borough of Stepney was a complex one.  That the densely populated industrial borough needed new housing was not in doubt but what was desirable and what was practicable were fiercely controversial.

An aerial view of Shadwell and Stepney from the south-east in 1946.  John Scurr House can be seen in the bottom right-hand corner. EAW000637 Britain from Above © English Heritage An aerial view…

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