Becontree Centenary Exhibitions RIBA Galleries London, Estate Buildings, British Architects News

Becontree Centenary Exhibitions, RIBA Galleries, London

15 September 2021

RIBA announces programme for the Becontree Centenary Exhibitions in the RIBA Galleries:

30 September 2021 – 5 February 2022

Lived in Architecture – Becontree Estate at 100

An artist commission with Verity-Jane Keefe, part of the Becontree Centenary programme

The Architecture Gallery, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1, FREE ADMISSION

The Tree of a Man named Beohha – Becontree now by Kalpesh Lathigra

Photography exhibition

First Floor Gallery, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1. FREE ADMISSION

Regent’s Park Installation ‘Bringing Home to the Unknown’

by POoR Collective with Year-10 students from Mayesbrook Park School, Becontree

Regent’s Park, opens 30 September

Becontree housing estate, Dagenham, East London, England, UK – taken in 1970:
Becontree housing estate, Dagenham, London
photo © Tony-Ray Jones – RIBA Collections

Becontree Estate London Commissions

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.

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.

The Becontree centenary is a partnership project between Create London, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (LBBD) and RIBA, supported by LBBD and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Additional support has been granted by Arts Council England and the Span Trust.

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.”

Zeals House, Wiltshire, England, UK – porch reconstruction, 1867
Zeals House, Wiltshire, England, UK - porch reconstruction
photo © RIBA Collections

Lived in Architecture – Becontree Estate at 100

An artist commission with Verity-Jane Keefe, part of the Becontree Centenary programme

30 September 2021 – 05 February 2022

Architecture Gallery, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1. FREE ADMISSION

Drawing on her long-term engagement with the Becontree Estate as an artist in residence, RIBA has commissioned Verity-Jane Keefe to respond to the estate, it’s history and current community as it looks forward to the next 100 years.

Keefe has approached the estate as an archive in itself, analysing the layering and alterations to its buildings as a means of understanding the impact that housing policy and political decision-making have at ground level. The artist’s study of these physical outcomes reveals the impact of right to buy and de-industrialization amidst the lived experiences of the residents.

New artwork by Keefe will be presented alongside 33 objects from the RIBA Collections. This juxtaposition will highlight how adaptions, extensions and home-improvements by Becontree residents follow the same trajectory we see throughout history – that architecture is never finished, but ever-evolving as part of post-occupancy and over time reflects broader changes in society.

The commission is co-curated by RIBA and Create London, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Bow Tie by Kalpesh Lathigra:
Bow Tie by Kalpesh Lathigra
photo © Kalpesh Lathigra

The Tree of a Man named Beohha – Becontree now by Kalpesh Lathigra

30 September – 05 February 2022

First Floor Gallery, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1. FREE ADMISSION

Graphical House by Kalpesh Lathigra:
Graphical House by Kalpesh Lathigra
photo © Kalpesh Lathigra

Photographer Kalpesh Lathigra has been commissioned to produce new work that will offer a nuanced study of the architecture on the Becontree Estate in 2021. The series complements the exhibition with Verity-Jane Keefe. Working predominantly on international projects, Lathigra was born, raised and still resides in East London. Through this commission, he will turn his attention to an area that is both familiar and new to him. It will be his debut public solo show in the UK, with the photographs being permanently accessioned into the RIBA Collections.

The commission is supported using public funding by Arts Council England and Span Trust.

Regent’s Park InstallationBringing Home to the Unknown

by POoR Collective with Year-10 students from Mayesbrook Park School, Becontree

Regent’s Par

Opening 30 September 2021

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.

The commission delivered in partnership with Royal Parks and is supported using public funding by Arts Council England and Span Trust.

Villa Medici, Rome. Relief plasterwork originated in Italy but ‘pargeting’ is seen in the estate and historically throughout Essex:
Villa Medici, Rome building
photo © RIBA Collections

Highlights from RIBA Talks and Events programme:

Curator Tours

Wednesday 06 October, Wednesday 20 October, Wednesday 19 January, Wednesday 02 February

Tickets: £5

All tours will run 6.00pm -7.00pm, unless stated, and will be held at 66 Portland Place

Radical Housing in Essex: A coach tour – in partnership with Focal Point Gallery

Saturday 23 October

Tickets: £50 Standard, Member concessions available

A day-long tour starting at our HQ building in 66 Portland Place that will take attendees out to the Becontree estate and beyond to visit several examples of innovative housing models in and around Essex.

Becontree Takes Over – A RIBA Late

Wed 01 December

RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1. FREE ADMISSION

An evening of free talks, workshops and performances across our HQ building in 66 Portland Place that will showcase the creativity of the community that surrounds the Becontree estate.

Opening in March 2022

Squaring the Corners – a permanent landscape commission by nimtim architects with artist Katie Schwab

Becontree Estate

On site Nov 2021- Feb 2022; launch March 2022

The Becontree Estate, one of the first and largest estates informed by the ideas of the Garden City movement was designed with a vast amount of open, green space including over 2,000 ‘corner plots’ at the end of rows of houses, which are now often neglected or underused.

This commission with nimtim architects and artist Katie Schwab will redesign 12 of these into 3 new public squares for people to rest, play, grow and meet. Each square encourages new activities and performs new functions by inviting residents to take ownership of them. The designs are inspired by geometries, colours, and materials that already exist within the estate.

The Corner Plot commission is co-commissioned by Create London and RIBA, supported by London Borough of Barking & Dagenham through Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy

  • The Architecture Gallery commission with artist Verity-Jane Keefe is co-curated by Pete Collard, RIBA and Diana Ibáñez López, Create London.
  • The photography commission is co-curated by Pete Collard and Marie Bak Mortensen, RIBA.
  • The Becontree Centenary is a partnership project between Create London, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham (LBBD) and RIBA, supported by LBBD and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
  • RIBA’s projects are part of Becontree Forever, a programme led by LBBD to celebrate the estate’s groundbreaking and radical beginnings and reimagine its future. becontreeforever.uk
  • Verity-Jane Keefe is a visual artist working predominantly in the public realm to explore the complex relationship between people and place. She is interested in the role and potential of the artist within urban regeneration. Working with moving image, text and installation to explore possible taxonomies of everyday life. She has a long-term working relationship with Barking and Dagenham, making work for, about and with the borough since 2006 as well as across outer London and internationally. Since 2018, Keefe has been working on Living Together, a multidisciplinary art project https://livingtogether.org.uk/. She is also lead artist on the design team for a Good Growth Funded project in Thamesmead, with Peabody, reopening a former social club in 2022.
  • Kalpesh Lathigra’s work occupies the space between documentary and art. He was educated in Photojournalism at the London College of Printing before joining the Independent as a staff photographer and later covering news and features as a freelancer for the UK national press. In 2000, he left newspaper work to dedicate his practice to documentary projects and assignments. In 2003, he embarked on a long-term project documenting the lives of widows in India, receiving The W.Eugene Smith Fellowship. Kalpesh published the monograph Lost in the Wilderness in 2015, a five-year body of work looking at life with the Oglala Sioux at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. His forthcoming book Memoire Temporelle will be published in 2021.
  • Create London is an arts organisation that has pioneered working with artists to realise new social enterprises, charities and cultural spaces. It commissions, curates and incubates long-term projects that are useful to society, supporting artists to work collaboratively with local communities. It reimagines the role of the artist in the city, working outside of galleries to find new and often surprising ways for art to become part of everyday life. Create London is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.
  • Power Out of Restriction is a social enterprise that focuses on the development of communities through the elevation of young people. POoR sees the power of the younger generation and seeks to get young voices heard. Through knowledge sharing and design, we aim to bridge the gap between communities, bring together a wealth of demographics, and empower the youth of today.
  • London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is one of London’s most exciting and fastest growing boroughs. The Council is investing in their physical infrastructure and in the community, providing what people need to be able to help themselves.
  • The National Lottery Heritage Fund – Using money raised by the National Lottery, they Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.
  • The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. The RIBA is a registered charity and relies on the generosity of individuals, companies, trusts and foundations to preserve its world-class collections, to maintain free public access to its exhibitions and to develop a diverse and exciting public events programme.

Becontree Centenary Exhibitions London images / information from RIBA

Location: 66 Portland Place, London, England, UK

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