Housed in and around a newly constructed section of a Segal house, from which visitors can experience the fundamental elements of the style, are original drawings, documents and furniture designed by Segal alongside archival films and photographs, plus contemporary photographs by Taran Wilkhu and a new interpretation of Segal’s technique by 2015 Turner Prize winner Assemble.
Walter Segal was born in Berlin in 1907, he came to England in the 1930s to study Egyptology and teach here at the AA. The development of his iconic self-build method during the 1960s enabled ordinary people, young and old, to design and build their own houses quickly and cheaply using readily available materials in standard sizes, without the need for specialist wet-trades such as bricklaying and plastering. In the late 1970s the ‘Segal method’ was adopted by Lewisham Council for an experimental self-building housing project across four sites. This exhibition concentrates on two of the resulting streets, Walter's Way and Segal Close, which were built under Segal’s personal guidance.
There are currently about 200 Segal houses in the UK and there is growing interest today in self-building as a response to the UK’s shortage of affordable homes. Segal’s legacy can be found in various low-cost, quick-build housing innovations such as WikiHouse, Y-Cube, and IKEA flat pack houses, as well as in contemporary housing projects such as RUSS, a community land trust developing a Segal-inspired housing project in Lewisham. Segal’s ideology continues to influence housing thirty years after its creation.
Curated by Alice Grahame with AA Exhibitions. We would like to thank Jon Broome and John Segal for their support, generosity, guidance and for the loan of archival material.