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The Independent Culture
Here is Lewis Womersley, dressed in thick woollen overcoat, gleaming black Oxfords, tightly knitted tie, hat in hand. Lewis Womersley? He was the Sheffield city architect at the time of the construction of one of the country's biggest and most controversial post-war housing estates. That estate is Park Hill, and you can see its Brutalist "deck-access" flats (there are nearly 1,000 of them) behind the no-nonsense expression of this senior civil servant. Some eyecatcher. Designed by Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith - two young architects infatuated with the concrete housing of Le Corbusier at Marseilles but with precious little experience of everyday life - the flats of Park Hill were feted by contemporary architectural critics like Rayner Banham, championed by Harold MacMillan (the prime minister) and knocked by John Betjeman. Today, this vast Fifties estate is in poor condition and nothing like it will ever be built again. It does, however, have its champions: the historian Andrew Saint treats the estate with the finest kid gloves in Park Hill: What Next?, a fascinating and meticulously researched illustrated booklet issued to accompany an exhibition about Park Hill (35 years on from its completion) on show at the Architectural Association,

34 Bedford Square, London WC1, until 30 March.