Learning from Neave Brown: Housing the Dutch towards 2030 (2018)

This is project in collaboration with second year students in urban design from Saxion, Deventer.

Context of the student project

In the sixties and seventies there was a nationwide program to experiment with (social) housing. We can find results of new types and typologies of housing but also new housing environments that added new models for urban design. These had great impact in the way the Dutch are living since then.

In this last year an inventory was made of the 64 Dutch projects that derived from this program leading to the publication of a book.

In the next phase we want to broaden up the view of the INTERNATIONAL practice of social housing that could be labeled as ‘experimental’ and find out how such a design would work in the Netherlands. Architect Neave Brown worked in the same period as the Experimental Housing program in the Netherlands. He is well known for his visionary projects in the UK, but also his later project in the Netherlands: de Medina.

Neave Brown, the revered Modernist architect, is perhaps best known for his visionary 1970s Alexandra Road estate near Swiss Cottage built by Camden Council. With its striking stepped concrete terraces and spacious flats, not only does it provide 500 homes but in Neave’s own words, it’s “a piece of city”, containing shops, workshops, a community centre, special needs school, children’s centre, a care home for young people with learning difficulties and a 16,000sq m public park.

Brown believes every home should have its own front door opening directly on to a network of routes and streets that make up a city, as well as its own private external space, open to the sky in the form of a roof garden or terrace. Each of these qualities was incorporated by Brown at Alexandra Road.

Source: https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/knowledge-landing-page/neave-brown-wins-royal-gold-medal-for-architecture


The aim is to understand the work of Neave Brown and extract lessons and design principles out of his works. Would these also be valuable for the Dutch challenge to deliver over 1 million houses before 2030? In what way could these lessons, principles and instruments be used in an urban design plan in the Netherlands?


The students make design proposals, based on their findings of an international experimental housing project.

PHASE 1: CASESTUDY (2 weeks) An analysis of one experimental social housing project (per student).

PHASE 2: DESIGN PROPOSAL (3 weeks) Creating a design proposal/concept for applying the principles of the studied experimental project on a given location in the Netherlands.


looptijd april – juli 2018

in samenwerking met Saxion stadsLAB, studenten Ruimtelijke Ontwikkeling – Stedenbouwkundig Ontwerpen


Image credits:
left: Neave Brown (credit: Gareth Gardener), top right: Alexandra Road Estate (credit: Martin Charles/RIBA Collections), bottom right: Dunboyne Estate (credit Martin Charles/RIBA Collections)