Rugby Estate

Camden, London

The handsome Georgian brick houses of the Rugby Estate, Camden Town, had been scheduled for demolition after years of neglect, despite their remarkable character and quality and their contribution to the area. In 1975, following protracted negotiations, 42 houses were successfully transferred to the Borough of Camden with a view to utilising these houses as social housing. This courageous turn of policy was prompted by a campaign generated by local residents whose vision was of a different future from that enshrined in earlier planning policies, a vision retaining well-known and well-loved landmarks and features of the area.

Donald Insall Associates was commissioned to provide architectural and structural interventions to ensure that these buildings can be made suitable for residential use. In order to benefit from the housing grants available at the time, the houses were split into flats, sometimes involving breaching party walls between different homes — a solution unlikely to find favour now but at the time enabling these remarkable houses to be put to new use with a sustainable future. In the case of three houses which had already been partially demolished because of their poor condition, a completely new block of social housing was designed to fit immediately behind the retained and restored historic frontages.