The Roehampton Estate was developed in the early fifties as a response to the severe housing shortage in London after the Second World War. The two phases of development, now known as Alton East (formerly Portsmouth Road) and Alton West (formerly Roehampton Lane), were designed by different architectural teams and are of particular interest because while both can be described as 'modern', they are representative of the different influences and approaches that were current in British modern architecture at the time.
The Alton East Estate represents a desire by some architects to formulate a British version of modernism that was more sensitive to context and referrenced a traditional vernacular. Another major influence was Swedish modern architecture which had developed in that country following the establishment of the welfare state in 1930. After 1940, all housing was built by the state and architects were encouraged to see their work in relation to social needs.
The buildings consist of ten-storey point blocks of flats, four-storey slab blocks of maisonettes and two-storey terraced houses. The houses and slab blocks use a familiar combination of red brick, white window frames, timber panelling and pitched roofs. The tower blocks have brick skins and at ground level, coloured tiling is used for decorative effect. The sloping character of the site and the existing mature trees determined the informal grouping of the buildings.