Open House Festival

Walter Segal Self-build Houses


Walter Segal, 1987

Walters Way, Honor Oak Park , SE23 3LH

A close of 13 self-built houses. Each is unique, built using method developed by Walter Segal, who led the project in the 1980s. Houses have been extended and renovated. Sustainable features including solar electric, water & space heating.

Getting there


Honor Oak Park


P4, P12, 171, 172, 122

Additional travel info

No Parking in Walters Way, park on main road. Bicycles can be brought into Walters Way.



Accessibility notes

3 to 4 steps to each house, no fully accessible toilet available.


What is special about these houses?

Walters Way is a close of thirteen unusual looking houses. They were built as part of an innovative housing scheme run by Lewisham council in the 1980s. The land was the derelict site where two large houses had once stood. It was unsuitable for conventional house building because of the hills and large trees. The land was offered to people on Lewisham's housing waiting list who were willing to build their own houses. The self-builders had little or no building experience and fitted in construction work at evenings and weekends.

What are the houses made of?

The houses consist of a timber frame and panels of insulating material called woodwool that is a mixture of wood fibres and cement. The exterior panels are glyzel board (industrial building cladding) and the interior is plaster board. Newer extensions use resin boards. The layers are held together with wooden strips secured with metal bolts. This gives the houses their distinctive timber beamed interior.

The roof is flat and made from a waterproof membrane, which is held in place by pebbles. The membrane is weighted down but not attached to the building except around the edges. The houses are built on stilts which sit on slabs beneath are concrete piles dug deep into the ground – 6 mtrs! As there are no conventional foundations the houses are unusually close to trees (including a Wellingtonia between numbers 8 and 10) that adds to the rustic feel.

Are they pre-fab houses?

The houses were not prefabricated. They were made on site using timber and building materials from local merchants that came in standard sizes. They are designed using a standard grid but the builder designed the interior lay-out of the house – so each is unique. Other components are same as normal houses such as heating.

How have the houses been adapted over the years?

Many of the houses have been extended and improved by their owners. Several have had extra rooms added using the same Walter Segal post and beam method. The modular nature and panel construction of the Segal houses means the houses can be extended adapted and rearranged much more readily than conventional brick and mortar houses.

Some of the residents are making their homes more environmentally friendly by, for example, improving the windows and insulation and adding solar panels.

Do the original self-builders still live in Walters Way?

Three of the houses are still inhabited by their builders – the others have been sold to new owners, who have carried on the spirit of the flexibility of the houses.

Where can I see some more Walter Segal buildings?

The Calthorpe Project – Kings Cross
Segal Close – Lewisham
Centre for Alternative Technology – Machynlleth
London Wildlife Trust – Peckham
Diggers Self-build Coop – Brighton

More info

Books On The Segal System
The Green Self-build Book: How to Design and Build Your Own Eco-home by Jon Broome
The Self-build Book: How to Enjoy Designing & Building Your Own Home by J Broome, B Richardson

You can find them on Amazon or Green books

NEW book
'Walter Segal: Self-Built Architect' By Alice Grahame and John McKean, with an introduction by Kevin McCloud. Published by Lund Humphries.

Online presence


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