Bill Brandt is widely considered to be one of the most important British photographers of the 20th century. This assignment for the Bournville Village Trust in Birmingham was carried out between 1939 and 1943. The photographs illustrate the living conditions in a range of housing types, and the images form distinct picture stories, contrasting slum and municipal housing.
This was the kind of assignment that Bill Brandt loved with the chance to put across a social point-of-view using real people and places.
The sixty-three photos and essays reveal how Brandt manipulated the artificial light in the slums to contrast with the brighter better homes where sunlight through open windows is the light source. Do not believe all you see or read is an apposite motto.
The book ‘Homes Fit for Heroes: Photographs by Bill Brandt 1939-43′ is available from Amazon for £10.39
Bournville Village Trust (BVT)
- BVT was founded in 1900 by George Cadbury, the chocolate manufacturer. The Trust now looks after some 8,000 mixed-tenure properties in Bournville, inner-city Birmingham, Shropshire and elsewhere in the Midlands.
- As well as being a not-for-profit housing association providing rented housing, we manage supported housing, community facilities and landscaped areas on the Bournville Estate
- The BVT Eco Home was set up to explore and develop an Eco-friendly demonstration project. A property in Selly Oak Road, was selected as an ideal property as it required substantial improvement and upgrading work before it could be re-let. The property is a two storey, mid-terrace house of traditional construction. Improvements to the house included
- Improved thermal efficiency by Fabric Upgrade. Floor, wall, cavity and loft insulation. Double glazed timber windows. External thermal render.
- Environmentally Friendly Products. ‘Green’ floor coverings, rainwater goods. Environmentally friendly kitchen and bathroom fittings. Sustainable sourced timbers.
- Minimise Water Use. Water saving devices, e.g. aerated taps, low flush toilet. Rainwater harvesting. Porous paving to external drive and patio.
- Reduce Energy Consumption. Natural light via light tubes. Low energy lighting.
- Microgeneration. Geothermal ground source heat pump with underfloor heating. Solar thermal, panels for domestic hot water. A wind turbine and solar photovoltaic panels were considered but were not practical for this property.
- Rear Garden Design. Organic waste recycling promoting self-sufficiency by providing a Vegetable plot, Fruit trees and a Greenhouse.