By Rowan Moore
Built by residents nearly 30 years ago, Walters Way and Segal Close in south London remain an inspiring symbol of self-build housing. But where are today’s DIY pioneers?
“Federico, I’m terrified. I’m terrified of heights. I don’t know how to do it.” Federico Mazandarani is recalling a time in the mid-80s when he was one of 13 households building their own houses in what would be named Walters Way in Lewisham, London. It was time to do the capping on roofs and one of his neighbours, a taxi driver called Jim, found his nerve failing him. “You’re lonely, you’re on your own,” Mazandarani recalls answering, “I have the same problem. Why don’t I help with your capping for one week and you help with mine for one week.” After that, “he was a changed man”.
The houses are hugely adaptable. One couple took a wall down to have a big party and then put it up again