Becontree, to the pleasure of plaster

Banal At first glance, the homes of this sprawling city of London bear witness to the evolution of taste in terms of decoration and architecture. a “Kaleidoscope of personal creativity” To which an exhibition of the Royal Institute of British Architects pays homage.

“Visiting Bacontry is not easy, Nicholas Pevsner in his guide writes buildings in england [“Bâtiments d’Angleterre”, non traduit en français], Even when you’re emotional. , This social housing city, which became the largest in the world during the interwar period, is celebrating its centenary this year. And, in the 1960s, at least we can say that this architectural historian did not notice it.

Even today there is no limit to her beauty. Spread over ten square kilometers spanning the districts of Barking and Dagenham in east Greater London, Bakontry has neither the brash architectural charm of Thamesmeade. [un quartier en bordure de Tamise réputé notamment pour ses bâtiments de style brutaliste] Nor the picturesque and bucolic charm of a garden city. Becontree rather epitomizes the insignificance of English suburbs. lines as far as the eye can see roof house [maisons mitoyennes] Out of bricks, to the front and back of a garden, border avenues sometimes straight, sometimes in an arc of a circle, punctuated by a row of shops. Feast in all its splendor.

Nicholas Pevsner probably should have visited Bakontry with someone like Verity—Jane Keefe. Because the gaze of this artist, working in and around the city for fifteen years, serves as a manifestation of a true kaleidoscope of individual creativity. There, it is a half-timbered house imitating the Tudor style, here a facade that takes on a fake rustic air, thanks to facing stones, further onto a porch decorated with a porthole window. Granite-effect plaster in pastel tones contrasts it with ripples of white plaster—but that’s nothing compared to a plaster medallion representing a squirrel placed delicately on a tree trunk.

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At the turn of an alleyway, an entrance is framed by Corinthian columns and pendant lights, in the shape of false plastic boxwood balls. Also, a portal guarded by a pair of golden cement lions. An entire artery in the arc of a circle recreates a landscape of beautiful huts worthy of a universe of Sylvanian family toys [qui figurent des animaux miniatures en peluche] : We attribute its construction to a Swedish carpenter in the 1920s. In another alley, Art Deco bay windows with clean lines seem straight out of an Agatha Christie novel.

“big mess”

The more you focus on it, the more Becontree emerges as a catalog brimming with household curiosities. A sort of open-air museum, which, like a palimpsest of plaster and paint, was the result of successive housing policies, but also shows the development of decorative tastes – acquired by social landowners’ as well as several generations of residents’ have taken. Property.

“When people get here, some see it as a big mess, Variety—recognizes Jane Keefe as we stroll in awe at the vast array of doors, porches, and other customizations. The Becontree is always shown in aerial photographs, a perfect ideal form of subdivision of houses, all built alike for giants, framed by private hedges cut along a line. Viewed from below, the city presents itself with many different options and customizations

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Oliver Wainwright

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