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The past can teach us a lot about community

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Your review of the Lansbury Estate (AJ 27.9.01) requires comment. Fifty years after, when we are much concerned with an urban renaissance, is a most appropriate moment to appraise a housing development prescient of the future change to come, following on from the last century.

Those at the forefront of the reaction against high-rise, and its destruction of community, were looking at what had been lost when the dense terraced housing of the industrial cities had been swept away through slum clearance or war. Lansbury was not mocked, as your reviewer asserts, in the 1970s. Although it may have been 'forgotten', the foresight of its creators was recognised in housing developments countrywide. Though run-down (that is another story) and privatised, such estates are very capable of becoming again valuable communities.

Political will disappeared under Thatcher, also responsible for the destructive form of capitalism and its monuments - glaring across at Lansbury from Canary Wharf. At the recent Architecture Foundation Forum on Lansbury, Piers Gough wascorrect in highlighting politicians' continuing failures. Our homes have always been very important in our lives, inspiring love and care. How much interchange and community resulted from gossiping when scrubbing the front step?

Successful communities come about from the buildings, and their management, to form interlinked spaces to which people can relate, recognising where they are. A rich variety of activities going on in a neighbourhood throughout the day stimulates interest and promotes safety, both of the person and of property.

Let us not forget that architecture is the public art to delight us all. The Architecture Foundation is to be congratulated for providing the forum for a most worthwhile, thoughtprovoking event.

John Bancroft, Haywards Heath, Sussex

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