OAKLANDS, ST ALBANS

I’ve complained about unimaginative and backward-looking domestic architecture in St Albans. Now, in the interest of balance, I show some pictures of an admirable contemporary housing development. It’s Oaklands, built on the site of the old St Albans college of further education and incorporating nearly all of the previous buildings. In a way it’s retro – mid-century modern – because it modifies buildings designed in the late 1950s, but it’s not sentimental or historicist.

The site slopes and has many mature trees, both taken account of in the college development, which won a Civic Society award in 1961. These features are exploited in the new housing development. It has changing viewpoints, which you discover as you walk through the estate and varied materials and textures in vertical and horizontal surfaces. A lot has been done with simple resources. Landscaping and bold planting exploit the site well and so far it’s been well maintained.

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