James Stirling and James Gowan's Preston housing scheme (1957-61) has been largely neglected by architectural historians. The Preston housing demonstrates that Victorianism had an earlier and far stronger role in Stirling's movement toward a skeptical engagement with modernism and a more reconciliatory approach to architectures of the past. This article casts new light on the scheme through a close examination of the buildings themselves, the architects' statements, and Stirling's photographs. The architects brought two new resources to the work on these buildings: an interest in the regional aspects of the "functional tradition" and a willingness to use elements of the then-depised Victorian city, especially the typology of its bylaw streets. Critical response centred on the scheme's alleged "nostalgia," but the architects anticipated this reaction by adopting a positive understanding of nostalgia that enabled them to reconsider the possibilities of a retrospective and place-specific architecture in postwar Britain.

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