The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is marking the centenary of the ground-breaking Becontree Estate in East London with an ambitious series of art and architecture commissions, accompanied by events and a learning programme. Two of the commissions open today: an installation in Regent’s Park ‘Bringing Home to the Unknown’, a collaboration between students from Mayesbrook Park School, an alternative provision school in Becontree, and social enterprise POoR (Power Out of Restriction) Collective and a photography display by Kalpesh Lathigra: The Tree of Man Named Beohha – Becontree Now.
The exhibition ‘Lived In Architecture’ with artist Verity-Jane Keefe will open in the RIBA Architecture Gallery on 21 October.
Once described as the largest council estate in the world, the Becontree Estate in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham remains the largest council estate in the UK, home to over 75,000 residents. Built 100 years ago and conceived as part of the Garden City movement, it was a feat of government planning and radical housing policy. Becontree set the agenda for housing that put wellbeing for its residents and typological innovation at the heart of its design. It was the originator of the cul-de-sac and most houses had both front and back gardens – unprecedented for public housing at the time.
Today, Becontree is a different estate, shaped by 100 years of changes in political decision-making, shifts in demographics and post-industrialization. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is working to renew and revive the estate for current residents and future generations.
Marie Bak Mortensen, Head of Exhibitions at RIBA:
“RIBA is delighted to be part of the Becontree Centenary. Through a variety of projects we aim to form new understandings of the estate by both residents and non-residents. The exhibitions and commissions highlight the role that residents have played in the development of Becontree since 1921 and the changing relationship between the physical space and its community.”
Regent’s Park Installation ‘Bringing Home to the Unknown’
by POoR Collective with Year-10 students from Mayesbrook Park School, Becontree
Opening 8 October 2021 – closes end of October
A collaboration between students from Mayesbrook Park School, an alternative provision school in Becontree, and social enterprise POoR (Power Out of Restriction) Collective will result in a new public realm installation in central London’s Regent’s Park. This is the culmination of a series of workshops that have explored ideas of belonging and activating public spaces. The installation will express the young people’s collective experiences of central London as a mythical place – a landmark in their memory – that represents an area so close to Becontree, yet so far away from their reality and daily life. Through a colourful and functional structure, the young people will take residence in the park, using their voice to create a place where they can have a genuine stake in and invite park dwellers to perform new uses of the iconic park with them.