What did you do at 26?

” I felt that if large blocks were to be accepted and loved, as a new way of living, they must try to replicate the best characteristics of the terraced street; that families of different sizes and age groups should intermingle, as their needs and strengths would be diverse and complementary.”

Dawson's Heights

Anyone living in the Dulwich/Forest Hill area will know this block by sight, perched on top of the highest hill for miles. But I certainly didn’t know anything about it until now. The building is called Dawson’s Heights and the quote above it by its architect, Kate Macintosh.

Kate Macintosh

She designed Dawson’s Heights in the mid sixties for Southwark Council, aged just 26. See her talking here about the project, and her European inspiration. She also explains that at the time the Labour housing minister was not approving balconies on designs for social housing. She got her balconies through by designing them as fire escapes to adjacent flats. Respect the balcony!

Dawson's Heights

I found this information, and much more, at the terrific Utopia London website, which covers a number of modernist housing and social projects built in London in the 1960s, and interviews the architects behind them. Thanks to an article about Dawson’s Heights on the brilliantly named blog Nasty Brutalist and Short for piquing my interest, and Single Aspect for further information and the final picture.


8 Responses to “What did you do at 26?”

  1. Susan Taylor
    November 3, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Balconies? Diverse? Intermingle? This puts me to shame, at 26 if I managed to remove my shoes after a night out it was considered a success.

  2. Patricia Gill
    November 3, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Ooh I know this well, this is the view from Hornimann’s Museum isn’t it? So interesting, I didn’t know anything about it, thanks for sharing.

    • myfriendshouse
      November 7, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

      Thanks Patricia, it’s the very same. I love finding out about buildings I’ve passed every day for years and this one had such an interesting story – and supposedly is a successful building still, well-planned inside too.

  3. Mrs M
    November 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    Great Blog! Congrats on the telegraph polling! Well deserved. I’ll be a regular reader from now on! Love the about us section!

    • myfriendshouse
      November 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

      Thanks Mrs M. So nice to hear from new readers. We really appreciate it. The About section pictures were made by cutting up Dulux paint cards. But they’re pretty good likenesses.

  4. Single Aspect
    November 8, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    You may not be aware but in the final picture that’s the architect Kate Macintosh sitting on the grass, bottom left. She was on our C20th walk and gave a talk about the building.
    Thanks for the link. – Single Aspect

  5. Single Aspect
    November 15, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    The correct link for Owen Hatherley’s article about Dawsons Heights is:-



  1. Single Aspect's Blog » Blog Archive » Dawsons Heights Estate – C20th Society walk - November 5, 2011

    […] http://myfriendshouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/03/what-did-you-do-at-26/ Posted by Single Aspect Filed in C20th Society, Housing design 3 Comments » […]

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