The government has listed Ralph Erskine's Byker Wall in Newcastle as Grade II*.
The decision - by Department for Culture, Media and Sport minister David Lammy under advice from English Heritage - will affect the regeneration of the rundown Byker area.
Developed over the course of the 1970s, the buildings are considered some of the finest examples of Erskine's work anywhere in the world.
Lammy said: 'The Byker estate is an extraordinary and outstanding piece of architecture which has won awards and attracted attention throughout its life.
'Its influence, both on design and the way we involve communities in the planning process, has been profound.
'It is right that it should now get the extra protection that listing provides. But listing does not mean that a building should be preserved unaltered for all time.
'Rather, it is a marker that the estate is important and decisive in its architectural influence, deserving special consideration if development plans ever come forward.'
And Carol Pyrah, EH's planning and development regional director agreed: 'English Heritage is delighted that the Byker Estate, one of the nation's most important 20th century housing schemes, has been listed.
'The Estate's groundbreaking design has been influential across Europe and has proved a pioneering model for its approach to public participation.
'Residents of the estate and Newcastle City Council have long recognised the architectural value of Byker.
'Now, with the help of funding from English Heritage, an excellent conservation management plan has been devised and the City Council is to be congratulated for its careful stewardship of this architecturally significant and socially innovative estate.'by Ed Dorrell