Walter’s Way – The Self-Build Revolution Exhibition


Walters Way exhibition

Walter Segal, and the self-build methods that he is famous for, appeal to us all. For the first time in 30 years an exhibition celebrates his legacy.

I was intrigued to see how the self build story would be told, and perhaps a little worried that a series of faded drawings and black and white photos might not capture the energy and human spirit of the self-build group schemes in Lewisham in the 1980s. But a combination of films, 1:1 models and anecdotes brings his story to life.

While architects might be drawn to the simple but elegant designs and students attracted to an opportunity to get their hands dirty, the universal appeal is the offer of affordability and autonomy that self-build brings. 

A panel discussion on the relevance of Walter Segal’s self-build legacy today accompanied the exhibition. Louis Schulz from Turner winning practice Assemble talked about the power of making, while Kareem Dayes the son of a self-builder, shared his experience growing up in Walters Way, one of the first group self-build schemes in Lewisham. Kareem explained how he thought their community was ‘normal’ until he saw where friends lived.
Six years ago Kareem set up The Rural Urban Synthesis Society (RUSS) a Community Land Trust with an aim to deliver community-led housing in Lewisham once more. For RUSS, self-build offers residents an opportunity for truly affordable and sustainable housing and a stake in the process. Architype is working alongside Jon Broome Architects to support RUSS to make this vision a reality. 
What started for Walter Segal as the most logical way to build a temporary house in his back garden has become a method of delivering affordable, adaptable housing, and simultaneously building communities.

Due to popular demand the exhibition is now running until 24.03.16 at the Architectural Association