A trip to Maiden Lane
Maiden Lane is the last in a series of remarkable housing projects planned or built between 1965 and 1982 when Sidney Cook was the head of the Department of Architecture for the London Borough of Camden. While Maiden Lane was designed and built after Cook retired in 1973, it is of the genre of buildings built during Cook’s tenure and is reflective of the brief heyday that Modern Architecture enjoyed in Camden before serious economic restrictions encouraged a return to an architecture of popular and vernacular influence. The estate was completed in 1982.
Whilst, on one hand, we celebrate the modernist clarity of the Maiden Lane Estate, it also must be acknowledged that it has suffered from years of poor maintenance and squaller. Indeed it is questionable whether the original design was fit for purpose – for example the concrete was painted – and the paint was peeling by the end of the first year of completion. For years between the mid 80’s and mid 90’s it was virtually uninhabitable. The estate still has huge problems and an extremely poor social profile. Unlike several of the other modernist social housing London estates of the same era – such as The Golden Lane Estate – The Maiden Lane estate has not succeeded in attracting a a mix of social occupation and has, therefore, not gentrified in the same way. Recently, however, there have been some really positive community-led projects such as The Maiden Lane Community Enterprise