The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) held a walking tour at Grahame Park last month, led by actors who brought the history of the area to life.
The tour was a part of Grahame Park’s Past, Present and Future project which itself is part of the wider arts and culture programme for the scheme. We teamed up with Colindale Community Trust, Barnet Council and Dr Magali Peyrefitte from the Middlesex University of Domestic Design to highlight the places that mean most to residents.
Early in the tour we looked at the brutalist architectural style of Grahame Park, a style which emerged in the 1950s post-war reconstruction era. But the tour was about far more than just architecture – it was a chance to reflect on the built environment and its relation to the residents that have formed their own unique lived experiences within it.
Carol, a former Grahame Park resident, recalled her time as a young girl growing up on the estate in the 1970s. She describes a vibrant and thriving community with a variety of businesses on the concourse, such as hairdressers, greengrocers and butchers. Carol spoke fondly of a tight knit, neighbourly community saying that if a child got into trouble their parents would know about it before they got home. She remembers this time in her life living in Grahame Park as a “simpler way of living”.
Another former resident, Lin, was part of the first generation to move onto Grahame Park and shared her memories. She ran the estate’s shoe shop with her husband in the 1970s and remembered how small local businesses were at the heart of the community. She spoke of the familiarity of the customers, reflecting the fact that these businesses were more than just shops, they were also social hubs – a place where friends and families spent time and connected with each other.
The tour was an opportunity to reflect on Grahame Park’s vibrant past and carry these memories forward as the estate enters a new era through its regeneration. It served as a reminder that residents make the Grahame Park community what it is and the importance of keeping them at the core of everything we do.
If you want to know more or get involved in our Past, Present and Future project, we're searching for community members who will help us research the history of the estate and even create their own exhibition. You will get free training and the opportunity to work with and visit the local RAF museum as well the Tate Britain gallery.
You can also have a listen to the guided audio tour that the GeoTourist site has from this event – you find it here.