Keeping away from the alluring and addictive surf (I find I’ve wasted hours before I get surf-bored), I was surprisingly nudged awake this week by a younger architectural historian friend asking if I’d see a tweet about Walter Segal’s archive. She then kindly showed it to me.
Perhaps it happens to all tweets at holiday periods which ask a question. Certainly here a fascinating chain ensued, all stemming from an innocent private chat at a New Year party. Who knows, it may end with a wonderful, safe, organised and accessible home for the life-long material left by the ever meticulous Walter Segal.
But once on the surf this morning, that soon got me floating past all sorts of undecaying plastic in the data ocean – and suddenly meeting one of my own photographs of Walter Segal up a ladder.
Ho hum. This opens a piece in a magazine called AnOther, it seems. Quite a charming little piece about the Segal self-built streets in Lewisham (actually a puff for Alice and Taran’s lovely book), it also used two more of my pictures from those early self-building days. I wonder where they found them? But at least, although I was never show this 18-month old article before, they correctly credit my photos. It can be read here.
This drawer (the fourth down, on the left) , is now (July 2019) unlocked, opened and labelled Walter Segal. Now there are books contracted and underway – Walter Segal: Self-built Architect by John McKean & Alice Grahame (Lund Humphries) and Walter Segal by John McKean in the ’20th century English Architects’ series which The 20th Century Society with RIBA and Historic England set on a fine trail and of which University of Liverpool Press have very recently taken the reins.
Here are a jumbled few posts (the Segal, part thingie series) and yellowing cuttings over recent years regarding an ongoing interest in Mr. Segal. However, elsewhere in this filing cabinet is a large envelope labelled Walter Segal (goodness, it turns red when you hover over it!), and in there are found various substantial, pre-digital texts I have written about Mr. Segal, mostly centuries ago, which anyone interested is welcome to steal as downloadable pdf files.
Walter Segal talking through the space left alongside his cigar, sitting in the first self-built house in his system, Mr and Mrs Holland’s house, seen in poster on right. Both photographs: John McKean
I may add links to other views on Segal as time allows, but a good starting point is a brief introduction to Segal by Colin Ward which you can read here. Meanwhile my colleagues Alice Grahame (author) and Taran Wilkhu (photographer) in 2017 published attractive tales of life in two idyllic Segal streets, self-built 40 years ago in London by people on the local authority’s list of those in housing need; it can be bought here and elsewhere. Alice has also started this useful Segal-news website here, while a range of Taran’s great pictures of the interiors in 2017 are also seen here.
SPECIAL OFFER! I have a copy of this classic masterpiece at greatly reduced price one week only – £129.99!
Otherwise, Segal fans, you will just have to wait for a while more for a new book to appear… soon…
Walter Segal next Monday – do read Rowan Moore’s great piece in The Observer 16 July – and join us!
An evening celebration of the life and work of Walter Segal is at The Building Centre from 6.30 pm on 24th July 2017
Places can be booked and full details found here .
Walter Segal photograph by John McKean
Launching the book Walters Way and Segal Close: Walter Segal and London’s Self-Build Community, its authors Alice Grahame and Taran Wilkhu (Segal residents) will be joined by
Tom Dyckhoff, TV presenter and Segal enthusiast
Jon Broome, architect and Segal’s partner, and self-builder of a house in Segal Close
and me, currently gearing up to republication of a revised edition of my 30-year old biography of Walter Segal.
Do join us!
Final preparations for the Walter Segal exhibition at the Architectural Association which opened with a packed party last night. In the foreground, a “Segal” pavilion by Assemble – winners of the latest Turner Prize – which now replaces the ‘temporary little house’ Segal built in his Highgate garden.
Beyond the model, to the left, are John Frazer and his wife, who built an interactive computer model of Segal’s system in 1980s to aid clients in designing themselves; to the right of the column are Jon Broome, Segal’s partner and successor with self-build; Nicholas Taylor, author of The Village in the City and, as Lewisham housing chair, the key enabler of the Segal method being taken up by a public housing authority; and John Segal, the architect’s son (seen again below portrait of Walter Segal by his father, Arthur Segal).
Five minutes after this picture was taken, there was barely room to move.
(This is published today, 11 January 2016, in Architecture Today and is not yet on their website. Scroll down for previous post on Walter Segal, exhibition, and links to texts)
A Walter Segal exhibition is at The Architectural Association, 36 Bedford Square London, from 16th January until 13th February – more details here.
I have only just learned the details myself, from this tweet.
As part of that event, there is a panel discussion on Walter Segal and the Future of Self-Build, with Jon Broome (Segal’s collaborator years ago, and today a leading exemplar of timber-frame, self-build and low-energy buildings), Charlie Luxton (architect well known from regular television appearances) and Alice Graham (exhibition promoter, journalist and inhabitant of a Segal-Broome house at Walter’s Way).
It will be at the Architectural Association on 26th January at 6.00 pm.
I have written much about Walter Segal, including but not only his pioneering of self-built timber-frame affordable houses for those on local authory lists as being in housing need.
The only book on Segal is my Learning from Segal (Birkhaueser, 1989) now long out of print. But various other writings on Segal are now available here.
Walter Segal photographed by John McKean
The Open Houses Walter Segal Day on Saturday, 19 September 2015, was great fun
(The Architects’ Journal issue on Segal with my photograph of his shadow on its cover)
Alice Grahame has got a great website started at http://www.waltersegal.org