When visitors arrive at my unconventional street, their first comment is usually: “This isn’t at all like London”. Nestled among trees on a hillside, the 13 half-timbered boxes are routinely mistaken for prefabs, an artists’ colony, Swiss chalets, eco-houses, a kibbutz, Scandinavian holiday cabins, Jamaican beach houses – or even a Japanese temple.
In fact, they are the product of an unusual 1980s self-build housing project designed by the pioneering architect Walter Segal, and run by the London Borough of Lewisham in south London.
The cul-de-sac is the result of a collaboration between enlightened councillors keen to shorten the housing waiting list, a group of determined locals and a visionary Berlin-born modernist architect. Walter Segal may not be a household name, but he was the only living architect to have two London streets named after him: Walters Way and Segal Close – names chosen by the residents.