In 1955, Bethnal Green had a population of about 54,000 people, about half that of the population it had twenty years earlier. 3120 houses had been destroyed in the war and huge areas had been damaged. A 17 acre site next to Roman Road was earmarked for a new development and 1500 residents living in these Victorian terraces were eventually rehoused.
Cranbrook Estate in Bethnal Green, London was designed by famous Russian emigré, Berthold Lubetkin, who pioneered modernist design in Britain in the 1930s. The six tower blocks were opened in 1963 and are named after towns from around the world that Bethnal Green was twinned with at the time – Velletri, St Gilles, Offenbach, Alzette, Modling and Puteaux.
The genius of the Cranbrook Estate lay in Lubetkin’s vision and its overall design. According to John Allan, it was Lubetkin’s ‘most ambitious achievement in urban orchestration, an essay in controlled complexity’. The blocks were spaced apart and so angled that one face would always catch the sun and shadows cast would ‘rotate like the spokes of a wheel’.
In this project, Tara documents Cranbrook Estate and the residents that live there today.