Walter Segal (1907-85) is best known for his promotion of self-build housing, which allowed ordinary people to design and build their own houses quickly and cheaply. Educated in Delft and Berlin, he came to the UK in 1936 and eventually married Eva Bradt, a student at the AA from 1937-39 (where he also taught). He contributed to several trade journals and wrote books including Home and Environment (London: Leonard Hill, 1947, 2nd ed., 1953). Housing was a key issue in the post-war period and this book, dedicated to his wife, covered many different housing types including the small house, flats and maisonettes, as well as the importance of site planning. The book was based on articles published in Building, The Architect and Building news and Architectural Design and construction. The recommendations of the Dudley Report of 1944 and post-war housing standards formed the basis of the book.
The second edition of the book was considerably larger than the first and included new information on the three-storied house, a practical application of the directly lit entrance hall in flats, planning problems in tall T-shaped blocks of flats, the merits of using the flat roof as access to upper maisonettes and in the chapter on heating, promotion of the one-source heating unit. The book has some delightful illustrations, mostly by Walter but some by his wife, as well as a perspective of a row of patio houses by Neville Conder.
The AA is holding an exhibition, Walter’s Way – The Self-Build Revolution, about the self-build ideas promoted by Walter Segal, from 16 January-13 February 2016.