James Stirling, Preston Housing, Lancashire, UK, 1956

James Stirling, Preston Housing, Lancashire, UK, 1956

James Stirling, Preston Housing, Lancashire, UK, 1956 (View in Google maps)

James Stirling was commissioned to design new housing for Preston. The scheme was completed in 1962 and was one of his earliest built projects in independent practice.

It consists of sixty-two units of accommodation in a groups. Adopting some of the despised urban elements of the Victorian city, they arranged their buildings as two-three story terraces and one four-story block of flats, placed around three sides of the large island site, with a separate group of two-story houses and flats for seniors.  Three different faces were presented to the surrounding streets.  These terraces had a one-bedroom flat on the ground floor and a two-story maisonette. They were planned ad quadratum and given conventional interiors.

The architects paid attention to aspects like form, construction and texture.  Layering of brick gables and chimneys gives strong shadows that reveal the form.  Windows are not “composed” but placed where needed. Garage and other buildings are set at a different angle.

Unlike the functionally driven picturesque of the village housing sheme or the flats at Ham Common, the effects at Preston seem to result from a consultation of the genius loci, use of spatial abstraction and merging of the forms of the terrace and the perimeter block.


G.H. Baker, The Architecture of James Stirling and His Partners James Gowan and Michael Wilford, Ashgate Publishing, 2011

Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians: Mark Crinson, The Uses of Nostalgia: Stirling and Gowan’s Preston Housing [available on the Internet: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25068265?seq=8]


Reviewed March 2017 by:

Yue Shang

Xiaolin Lu

Lizhongyang Zhou

Adelina Muntean