The competition

In 1952 the Royal Institute of British Architects organised an architectural competition for the City of London. The challenge was to create a design for an estate with 940 residents at Golden Lane. There were 187 entries.

Geoffry Powell’s winning design for the Golden Lane Estate.

The competition was won by Geoffry Powell, who was declared the winner on 26 February 1952.

Geoffry Powell was a lecturer in architecture at the Kingston School of Art. He and two fellow lecturers, Peter Chamberlin and Christof Bon, had each submitted designs to the competition. They had agreed that if any of them won, they would all leave the Kingston School of Art and form an architectural practice. That is what they did. The partnership of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon was formed. Chamberlin Powell & Bon supervised the building of the estate in detail. They later went on to design and build the Barbican estate to the south.

Geoffry Powell’s proposed layout

Peter and Allyson Smithson were among the entrants. They were the most well-known of the architects later called Brutalists.

They went on to build Robin Hood Gardens housing complex in Poplar, East London.

The Smithsons’ Robin Hood Gardens (now demolished)

You may see some signature similarities in their proposals for the Golden Lane Estate competition.

The Smithsons’ proposal for the Golden Lane Estate

An illustration of the Smithsons’ proposal

How the Smithsons saw their estate sitting in the landscape