Dan Cruickshank takes an up-close-and-personal look at the place we are all familiar with but rarely stop to question – our home. Why are those stairs at that angle? Why is the kitchen at the back of the house? Why are some houses made of wattle and daub, and some of brick? And why do some live in a terrace and some in a flat? How did the British home end up looking the way it does – and why?
This series reveals the men, women and sweeping history that shaped the houses that people in Britain live in. Each film will be sited in a particular location which embodies a building type, whether it’s the terraces of the industrial North in Toxteth Liverpool, the high-rise towers of Bow East London, or the cottages of rural Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, and will peel back the years to see how it was when these particular buildings were first built. Dan will be house detective as he traces how and why each flat, terraced house or cottage was built – and who were the heroes and villains of the story. He’ll scour the deeds, rake up the family albums and hunt through the municipal records to track down the builders, the first inhabitants, the debt and the design of these buildings.
Aiding his hunt, a wealth of material from the RIBA Collections lays bare the interplay of design, economy, prudence and recklessness that lies behind every stair, every chimney breast and every doorway. RIBA’s exhibition to complement the series will be on display at the Architecture Gallery in London from 18 May to 28 August. It traces the historical development of our homes and explores how they could be designed differently to meet our future needs.