Chalet Fields of the Gower

Author(s): Stefan Szczelkun
ISBN13/Barcode: 9781870736183

216 x 216mm 70pp standard colour hardback

Short Description: 70 colour photographs of houses on two of the Chalet Fields of the Gower peninsular in South Wales. Over the last 60 years most of these simple, cheap-to-build houses have evolved into desirable residences. Looking beyond their aesthetic appeal they provide evidence that people can make and acquire their own homes given the opportunity. An interview with local architect Owen Short gives an insight into how these communities negotiated changes in the legal planning environment. These photographs show a form of self-provision of working class housing which begins with a simple timber-framed dwelling and develops gradually with the users changing needs and resources. In the process they have acquired an idiosyncratic style that gives them considerable charm. Looking beyond this aesthetic appeal they provide evidence of a method that could again be used to make dwellings. Photographed with a Sigma DP2 camera with Foveon sensor.


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Preview excerpts

This charming photo-book records both ramshackle huts, and fairy-tale new build at two plotland sites on the Gower Penninsula, Wales. Secret, rustic getaways, clad in wood and painted eggshell blue, pink, cedar, with fancy bargeboards, verandas and smokestacks, these impeccable images capture a demotic micro-world, yet one as exotic as a Black Sea holiday resort.”  Michael Hampton, author of Unshelfmarked: Reconceiving the Artists' Book

“Stefan Szczelkun, by his own evocative photography, and in conversation with Owen Short, a local architect experienced in the construction, extension and maintenance of these remarkable chalets, captures the unique atmosphere of a fascinating chapter in the history of our built environment.” Nick Barber

 “The 1947 Act made planning key to development,

handing house building to those with enough financial and 

political power to beat the system. The results have been expensive, 

ugly and environmentally unsound.

Looking through the mists of time, this book glimpses a vision

of housing that has beauty and was within the reach of 

normal people.”  Geoff Beacon, Sustainable Plotlands Association

“One of Stefan Szczelkun previous books, ‘The Conspiracy of Good Taste’ contained a short chapter on Plotlands. Within this slim volume, Stefan's argument about the oppression of autonomy, creativity and opportunity by dominant architectural culture provided me with a turnkey that has enabled me to open many doors in my research and fieldwork. The dream and desire to build, make space, and demand dignity through spatial sovereignty is universal. Yet many people still are still not aware how this everyday practice, still common to millions of other cultures through the world, was violently robbed from people in the UK in the post-war years.

"The Gower peninsula is in South Wales. ‘The Chalet Fields of the Gower’ gives us a view into how different our built environment might have been; a more gentle and personal space; where folk art might have intermingled with social and technical innovations to bring a whole new meaning to the concept of "New" towns. This book, like much much of Stefan’s work, is a vital historical and ethnographic document that will serve as a reminder to future generations that everyday acts are political, none more so than the basic requirement of creating shelter.”  Dr Mikey Tomkins

“It is interesting to speculate whether there could be any way that Plotland schemes could happen again and whether they could provide a significant amount of low-cost housing. This was housing that was largely self-built and therefore empowering - in complete contrast to current housing provision. …   This might not quite achieve the free and very personal structures that are beautifully illustrated by the images in this booklet but they give inspiration that an alternative way of providing housing might be possible.”  Tony Schonfeld, architect and master builder

"The 'Plotlanders' were working class families who sought to reclaim a little bit of the countryside as an escape from city life between the wars. Their self-built houses created informal communities that were first documented in detail in Dennis Hardy and Colin Ward's Arcadia For All. Stefan Szczelkun's Chalet Fields of the Gower brings this history up-to-date and demonstrates the importance and vitality of this working class culture whose legacy is all the more important in an era in which working class experience is increasingly exploited and devalued." Simon Yuill


I like to thanks the previewers quoted above for their considered writings. Full versions may be seen on the books webpage:

Additional Information

ISBN13/Barcode 9781870736183
ISBN10 1870736184
Author Stefan Szczelkun
Binding Hardback
Date Published 5 Sep 2018
Frequency No
Report Date N/A
Pages 70
Publisher Routine Art Co

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