It’s that time of year again, when the architecturally minded can see inside buildings usually closed to prying eyes. There are hundreds of buildings ready to be visited, and although this year there seems to a heavy emphasis on the contemporary, there are plenty of modernist, art deco and brutalist buildings to visit. Many of the old favorites are available to visit; the National Theatre, the Barbican, Priory Green and many more. We won’t list them all, but instead will highlight the lesser known gems.
A trio of cinemas start us off. The wonderful art deco Rayners Lane Grosvenor (now the Zoroastrian Centre) by FE Bromige is a great place to start. Another cinema by Bromige, the Rio in Dalston is also open, and features a photography exhibition on the history of Dalston’s cinemas. However the most spectacular cinema on show is the former Tooting Granada (now a Bingo hall) designed by Cecil Masey and RH Uren, with an amazing gothic interior by Theodore Komisarjevsky.
A few more inter war beauties are worth a visit. 64 Heath Drive in Gidea Park by Tecton is a stunning modernist house. It is open both Saturday and Sunday afternoon is is well worth the long tube journey! Another modernist dwelling worth the journey is Pullman Court in Streatham. Designed by Frederick Gibberd and built in 1936, it is open on Sunday from 11am-6pm. Closer in is Bruno Court in Hackney, now an apartment block but originally an extension to the German Hospital, designed in 1934 by the firm of Burnet, Tait and Lorne in a moderne style. Also moderne in appearance is the QE2 Stadium in Enfield, designed in 1938 but completed in 1952. The stadium features a distinctive brick drum staircase tower.
The modernist church is well represented, with two great Post war example sin St Paul’s, Bow Common by Maguire & Murray and St Boniface in Whitechapel by Donald Plaskett Marshall & partners both well worth visiting. Further east is Wanstead Quaker Meeting House, designed in 1968 by Norman Frith, definitely worth a look on the Sunday if you are nearby. Making it’s Open House debut is St. Alban, North Harrow by AW Kenyon. This interwar Scandinavian influenced, brick church is celebrating it’s 80th birthday this year.
Schools are also well represented, with examples from the interwar and postwar periods. Uphall Primary in Barking is a great example of streamline moderne style architecture from 1934. Two primary schools from the postwar period worth seeing are Hallfield Primary, Paddington by Denys Lasdun (open Saturday) and Greenside Primary, Hammersmith by Erno Goldfinger (open Sunday). Goldfinger's only secondary school, Haggerston Girls School in Hackney is also open Saturday.
Of course everyone likes to see inside someone else's home, and the post war example is well served. On the Sunday there are resident led tours of Eric Lyons Span estate in Greenwich, The Keep, built in 1957. The two Walter Segal influenced self build estates in Lewisham are open on the Sunday, Walters Way and Segal Close. Also open on Sunday, is the Darke House in Richmond, designed by Geoffrey Darke of Darbourne & Darke for himself. If estates are more your thing you can visit Peter Tabori’s Stoneleigh Terrace, built as part of the Highgate New Town project in 1972. Two other estates worth visiting are Central Hill in Lambeth and Thamesmead in Bexley. Both are interesting example so the post war estate and both are threatened with demolition meaning this could be your last chance to see them. Another intriguing debut this year is that of the so called Pearl of Metro-Land, a 1924 semi detached house resorted to it’s original condition and jazzed up with a Mondrian makeover.
Of course we will also be doing our bit for the modernist side of things and hosting our walking tour of Stanmore's Art Deco and Modernist Houses. Taking place on the Saturday at 10am and 2pm we will be exploring the art deco houses of the Warren Estate before venturing up Stanmore Hill to see some more post war example of Modernism in Metro-Land. More details on the tour here. We hope you will come and say hello!
Saturday August 26th marks the birthday of John Partridge, part of the quartet of architects that made up the firm Howell Killick Partridge Amis. Partridge died last year at the age of 91, but he and his colleagues work lives on in a new book by Geraint Franklin, Howell Killick Partridge Amis, published by Historic England. Historic England were kind enough to send us a copy and we are happy to report it is a wonderful book, in keeping with their 20th Century Architects series, which has featured book on the careers of Leonard Manasseh, Chamberlin Powell & Bon and Wells Coates among others.
Beginning with the meeting of the four architects at the London Council County Architect's Department and their part in the design of the Alton West Estate, the book charts HPKA’s journey from young guns to elder statesman of the architectural scene. Franklin’s book takes an in depth look at their work for the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, as well as designs for schools (such as Acland Burghley), local authorities (including Haringey, Harrow and Islington) and private commissions (including houses in Edgware).
Throughout the book the text is supported and enlivened by new photographs from James O.Davies, as well as images and sketches from HKPA’s own archives. The book finished with a comprehensive list of HPKA's projects, built and unbuilt. Howell Killick Partridge Amis is a great addition to the 20th Century Architects series, and we eagerly await further volumes.
Howell Killick Partridge Amis is available directly from the Historic England website HERE. Or if you are a 20th Century Society member you can get a 20% discount on the book HERE.
This year we will again be hosting an Open House London tour. On Saturday 16th September we will be guiding two walking tours, looking at Stanmore's Interwar and Post War houses. Beginning on the Warren Estate, featuring a host of interwar Art Deco and Streamline Moderne houses by Gerard Lacoste and Douglas Wood Architects, the walking tours will also explore dwellings by the likes of RH Uren, Owen Williams, Gerard Kaufman, Rudolf Frankel and others. We will see how the expansion of rail and road links fuelled the rise of Metro-Land, and how architects bought modernism to sit amongst the prevalent suburban tudorbeathen style.
The Open House London page for the tour is HERE, you can also download the app.
IMPORTANT INFO: The tours will be on Saturday 16th September ONLY. There will be a two tours, the first at 10am, the second at 2pm. The meeting place for the tours will be opposite Stanmore Tube station. The tours will last between 1.5-2 hours and will include a steep climb at points, please bring protective clothing and suitable footwear. We look forward to seeing you there!