Walter Segal
Walter Segal was an architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

 who developed a system of self-build
"Self-build" is the practice of creating an individual home for yourself through a variety of different methods. The term 'self build' is specifically used in the UK and Ireland when an individual obtains a building plot and then builds their own home on that plot...


The Segal method is based on traditional timber frame methods modified to use standard materials available today. It eliminates the need for wet trades such as bricklaying and plastering resulting in a light-weight methods which can be built with minimal experience and are ecologically sound. The roofs tend to be flat with many layers of roofing felt, which allows the creation of grass covered roofs. Foundations are minimal, often just paving slabs, the strength coming from the geometry of their construction. Segal houses have been compared to traditional Japanese houses.

Son of painter Arthur Segal
Arthur Segal
Arthur Segal was a Romanian artist and author.- Early life :Segal was born to Jewish parents in Iaşi, Romania, and studied at the Berlin Academy from 1892...

, Walter Segal was brought up in Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 close to an alternative community called Monte Verità
Monte Verita
Monte Verità is a hill in Ascona , which has served as the site of many different Utopian and cultural events and communities since the beginning of the twentieth century.-History:...

 (McKean: 1988). His first commission was a small wooden holiday cabin built in 1932 and commissioned by a rich patron, Bernhard Mayer. The same patron enabled him to study architecture among the pioneers of the Modern Movement in Delft
Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland , the Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam and The Hague....

 and Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...


He then moved to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1936 where he met Eva Bradt, a student at the Architectural Association School of Architecture
Architectural Association School of Architecture
The Architectural Association School of Architecture, more usually known as the AA, is an architectural school in London, United Kingdom...

. He taught at the school, wrote in trade journals, published a couple of books and had a few small architectural commissions. Eva died in 1950.

In the 1960s he and his new partner Moran Scott decided to demolish and rebuild their home at Highgate. They built a temporary structure in the garden using standard cladding materials and with no foundations other than paving slabs. It took two weeks to build and cost £800. This house roused considerable interest and led to a number of commissions using a similar style around the country. As the system developed the clients were able to do more and more of the building themselves.

In the 1970s Lewisham
Lewisham is a district in South London, England, located in the London Borough of Lewisham. It is situated south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.-History:...

 borough council made three small sites, unsuitable for mainstream housing, available for people to build their own homes using the method. Due to the success of these a fourth site was later made available.

After his death in 1985 the Walter Segal Self-build Trust was set up and his methods have gained in popularity. A Segal house at the Centre for Alternative Technology
Centre for Alternative Technology
The Centre for Alternative Technology is an eco-centre in Powys, mid-Wales, dedicated to demonstrating and teaching sustainable development. CAT, despite its name, no longer concentrates its efforts exclusively on alternative technology, but provides information on all aspects of sustainable living...

has helped in spreading the system. At least six of these buildings and schemes have won awards ranging from the prestigious Housing Project Design Award to Green Building of the Year.

External links

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