Essex Architecture Weekend State-Cinema-Grays-2016-©-Catherine-Hyland.-Courtesy-Focal-Point-Gallery
State Cinema Grays 2016-©-Catherine-Hyland.Courtesy-Focal-Point-Gallery

ESSEX Architecture Weekend is a two-day festival celebrating the county’s pioneering role in twentieth century architecture.

For the duration of the weekend, shuttle buses will run between the county’s three key modernist estates— Silver End, Bata East Tilbury and Frinton-on-Sea— allowing visitors to investigate the area through walking tours led by local heritage organisations and leading architects, as well as self directed explorations and bookable tours of modernist residencies. The buses will also stop at the Plotlands Museum in Langdon, and University of Essex’s Colchester Campus, where curator Jess Kenny will lead tours of the campus including the famous north towers and paternoster lifts.

Across the county further sites will be open for exploration, which will see homeowners in Benfleet, Westcliff, Maylandsea and Romford open their doors; there will also be a unique opportunity to visit a property on Cressing Road, part of the Clockhouse Way Estate and the site of the first modernist building in the country. Additionally, there is a special opportunity to visit the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Burnham-on-Crouch where members will lead a tour of Britain’s entry in MoMA’s 1932 ‘Modern Architecture: International Exhibition’.

Silver End Village Hall will be the base of the weekend, hosting an exhibition from the Heritage Society, an artist-led family workshop event entitled, ‘Building the Future’ and a new commission from Essex-based architectural practice HAT Projects. A talks programme will examine the Essex landscape in relation to the capital, and why it became a site for such pioneering architectural activity chaired by Tim Burrows with Matthew Butcher, Rachel Lichtenstein, Charles Holland and Ken Worpole; the role Essex played in the development of International Modernism with Elizabeth Darling, Alan Powers and Ellen Thorogood, as well as Gillian Darley, Owen Hatherley and Sam Jacob exploring various visions of utopia Essex has been seen during the 20th century. In addition we are thrilled to be welcoming Jonathan Meades to participate in a Q&A following a screening of ‘The Joy of Essex,’ a key inspiration for the Radical Essex project. Rounding off the first day, the evening will see the launch of Alan Kane’s The Radical National Trust of South Essex in disco form.

In revealing Essex as ‘The Modernist County’ the weekend will redress perceptions of the architectural history of the region. Coinciding with Heritage Open Days 2016, ‘ESSEX Architecture Weekend’ will share their ethos of discovery and curiosity, in which visitors will have the opportunity to explore and learn about the county’s progressive approaches to living practice in the twentieth century, and consider their ongoing relevance and legacy.

Focal Point Gallery Director Joe Hill, who is leading Radical Essex, says:

Through this project we are excited to have the opportunity to share and celebrate the important role Essex has played in the development of contemporary architecture in the UK. This is apparent not only in the design styles, but in the varied and radical approaches to social structures. It is utterly unique in this regard, and yet so underrepresented. We hope that this programme will help to encourage people to reflect on the innovative past of the county, in order to promote experimental and pioneering building for the future.”


Full details of the weekend can be found at the newly launched Radical ESSEX website, which includes full listings of each property, talk and event in ESSEX Architecture Weekend, as well as an index of all radical content the county has to offer.

2 Clockhouse Way Estate, 2016 © Catherine Hyland. Courtesy Focal Point Gallery
2 Clockhouse Way Estate, 2016 © Catherine Hyland. Courtesy Focal Point Gallery

Bata factory, East Tilbury, 2016 © Catherine Hyland. Courtesy Focal Point Gallery
Bata factory, East Tilbury, 2016 © Catherine Hyland. Courtesy Focal Point Gallery

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad