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LANSBURY ESTATE

The Lansbury Estate 1,2 was the first of the 11 areas of Stepney and Poplar to be built under the Abercrombie Plan for the post-Second World War rebuilding of London's East End. Planned by the London County Council in 1949, the decision was taken to concentrate on building 12ha of its 54ha as the 'Live Architecture' exhibit for the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Architecturally undistinguished - despite some notable design names such as Geoffrey Jellicoe, Frederick Gibberd, and Norman & Dawbarn - these 12ha were built to around half pre-war density as a relatively low-rise development, often two to three storeys, with nothing higher than six. It included shops, schools and churches. For most buildings the main materials were yellow stock bricks and grey slate.

Post-1951, this smaller area's planning rules were let slip in favour of more common national models of housing development. Tower blocks rose to the north; on the vacant area to the south-east of the estate along East India Dock Road, the Greater London Council later built a point block, medium-rise housing and a shopping precinct in concrete, which provide much of the setting for the Idea Store. Immediately to the north is an open-air market, with a freestanding roof built in the 1980s. This is the main still-viable remains of Gibberd's Chrisp Street market, said to have been the first purpose-built shopping precinct in Britain.

1. AJ 3.7.74 p23-42, a revisit to the estate, hard-pressed to find lessons for the future of British housing 2. AJ 6.9.01 p24-31, historian Catherine Croft finds what's left, 50 years after the Festival of Britain

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