Two years ago, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the London boroughs, we wrote a series of blogs looking at the work of the various boroughs architects departments. Over three parts we looked at the work of Camden, Haringey, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Brent, Harrow, Barnet and Enfield. We have decided to follow this series up and look at the work of Islington (Part 4), Hackney and Hammersmith (Part 5). This is a general overview, looking at some of the project each borough undertook as well as looking at the different approaches used.
Part 1- Camden can be found HERE, Part 2- Hillingdon, Hounslow, Harrow & Brent can be found HERE. Part 3- Haringey, Enfield & Barnet can be found HERE.
The London Borough of Islington was formed in 1965, merging the metropolitan boroughs of Islington and Finsbury. It is the second smallest London borough but also the most densely populated. This overview of the boroughs architects departments work will naturally focus mostly on how they reconciled this two facts. The metropolitan borough of Finsbury was a very progressive council in terms of housing, with Labour in control for the majority of the time between 1928 and 1965. During this time, the borough instigated a number of interesting housing schemes. The local architect E.C.P Monson designed over 50 small estates and buildings for the borough, starting in the 1920’s. His estates were designed in a mixture of Arts & Crafts and Neo-Georgian styles, and often had flats reached with access balconies and open staircases.
In the 1930’s the borough changed tack and bought in the modernist architect Berthold Lubetkin and his Tecton group to produce a number of estates and other buildings in the area. The group designed the estates of Spa Green, Priory Green and Bevin Court, as well as the Finsbury Health Centre. The estates were planned in the mid 1930’s but completion was delayed due to World War II, nevertheless they stand as great examples of socially minded interwar modernism. In the post war period Finsbury continued their bold modernist projects with the firm of Emberton, Franck & Tardrew (C.L. Franck had been a member of Tecton). They designed the Finsbury Estate, comprising of four tower blocks and a library, as well as a number of other housing smaller projects in the area. The London County Council architects department designed and built the Highbury Quadrant estate in the early 1950’s. The estate consists of five storey blocks of flats in pale yellow brick with plenty of greenery in between, a perfect example of the post-Festival of Britain, Scandinavian influenced style used by the LCC.
Alfred Head became the chief architect of the newly formed borough in 1965. To begin his department was so small that Head was concurrently the chief architect, planning officer and buildings work manager The department grew quickly and 15 years later had nearly 250 staff and multiple sub departments. The first estates built by the borough followed the fashion of the time; large scale estates with apartment blocks and some smaller housing, often constructed with prefabricated concrete panels. Estates like Six Acres in Finsbury (1967-70) and earlier GLC projects such as St Luke's (1965) and Banner Street (1969) were contemporaries to hundreds of similar projects all over London. Like their neighbours Camden, Islington bought in outside architects to design various schemes. The Weston Rise estate off Pentonville Road was designed by the firm of HKPA and completed in 1969. Architecturally more interesting than the council's own estates, the project features eight storey apartment blocks linked by walkways. Other estates designed by outside architects include the Priors Estate (1974) by Clifford Culpin & Partners and Stock Orchard, Holloway (1971-75) by Basil Spence & Partners.
Perhaps more interesting than the big estates are the boroughs smaller work, particularly with infill sites and conservation. As the economic cost of the oil crisis bit and architectural fashion turned against big estates in the mid 1970’s, some boroughs turned their minds to smaller projects. The boroughs of Haringey and Hillingdon produced projects for single people, sheltered housing and extendable buildings, and Islington responded in kind. Two interesting infill estates by the borough are Falcon Court (1970) and Legion Close (1975). Falcon Court, just off City Road, was designed by P.S. Boyle and is a terrace of stock brick houses facing away from the road and onto an enclosed garden area. Legion Close in Highbury, designed by Owen Batho and Gerry Burns, is a mix of maisonettes and flats in brick, with distinctive drum staircases towers. The borough also made it a priority to conserve housing stock where possible, and refurbish it for modern use as seen at in Wilmington Square and Yardley Street (1969-71).
Despite the success of the small scale projects, larger estates were still needed. The duo of Darbourne & Darke designed a number of different projects for the borough, most famously (or infamously) the Marquess Estate. The estate was constructed between 1966 and 1976, and is intricately designed with maisonettes and apartments lined by walkways with gardens in between. Like many of the 1970’s estates it fell into disrepair in the 1980’s, and was refurbished in the 1990’s. The duo also designed a nearby terrace of houses at Northampton Park (1973), as well as housing in Camden Road, Clifton Road and Aberdeen Park, and a nursery at Finsbury Park. Some other larger estates were designed by Eric Lyons Cadbury-Brown Metcalf & Cunningham, the Caledonian Estate (1976), the Westbourne Estate (1978) and the Delhi Outram Estate (80), all low rise schemes in brick, designed in a vernacular style. The GLC designed and built the Andover Estate in Finsbury Park between 1972 and 1979, it is a mix of two storey terraces and four storey maisonette blocks, with ten storey ziggurats balanced on pilotis.
Of course housing wasn’t the borough architect's department only concern. The borough had some interesting schools built pre-1965, with Risinghill Primary designed by the Architects Co-Partnership and Ashmount Primary by HT Cadbury-Brown, but number of new schools were designed and built in the 1960’s and 1970’s. A number of schools were built in collaboration between the architects department and the Inner London Education Authority; Vittoria Primary, Angel School and Hungerford Primary. Others were designed by outside architects; Islington Green by Scherrer & Hicks in 1965, James Cubitt and Partners designed Highbury Grove in 1967 and Julian Sofaer produced Hugh Myddelton in 1970, these buildings and the others, were built using the exposed concrete frame and brick infill style of the day. Unfortunately of these schools, only Vittoria and Hugh Myddelton still stand, the others have all been demolished and replaced.
Under Chris Purslow in the 1980’s and 90’s, the department introduced post modern stylings to their buildings, best seen at the jazzy and colourful Mildmay Library, which was reclad in 1990. This period also saw the creation of a number of neighbourhood centres, often by refurbishing existing buildings. The centres that were newly built were designed in the vernacular style with red brick and pantiled roofs.
Whilst not as illustrious as their neighbours Camden, or as influential as Hillingdon, the work of Islington architects department shows a variety of approaches and styles in coping with a densely populated area. From Arts & Crafts through Modernism, Brutalism and on to Pomo, the changing fashions of 20th century architecture can be seen in Islington, as well as different approaches in the scale of houses. Apartment blocks abound, but the small scale infill experiments prove the most interesting efforts of the boroughs architects.
In House- Part 5 featuring Hackney and Hammersmith will follow in a few weeks.
Saturday April 1st sees a number of changes to the running of Barnet’s libraries by the notoriously outsource friendly council. Staffing will be drastically reduced, with librarians replaced by self service options or volunteers. A number of libraries will also undergo refurbishment over the next year, with many libraries reducing floor space to fit in commercial units. Apart from the obvious self harm of such a policy like this to the population of Barnet, especially children and the elderly, it is a great shame that Barnet’s libraries will be architecturally despoiled to fit in commercial premises. The borough has a number of post war modernist style libraries,as well as some interesting interwar ones.
The borough architect B. Bancroft designed two libraries in the 1960’s, Hale Lane in Edgware (1961) and Burnt Oak (1968). Hale Lane is designed in an L-Shape and features a glazed gable end. The building has already been extended once, and the council are planning more refurbishment. Burnt Oak Library is another that has undergone changes. Originally a square concrete framed building with a glass pyramid roof light and interesting vertical windows, it was refurbished by Knott Architects in 2011, who added a colourful curved entrance way.
Church End Library in Finchley, designed in 1964 by borough engineer FGF Nutter, has a curtain wall of zigzagging windows, a copper roof and freestanding bookcases. This library is due to close, moving its facilities to the council owned Gateway House. In Colindale is the Grahame Park Estate Library, built between 1969-75 by the GLC Architects Dept with Barnet Borough. Quite different from the previous buildings mentioned, this library had a bunker like appearance with small projecting windows and a sloping roof. The library, along with most of the original estate has been redeveloped by Barnet Borough in the last few years.
The borough also boasts a couple of fine interwar libraries by P.T. Harrison, borough architect of the era, in North Finchley (1936) and East Finchley (1938), both in the Neo-Georgian style. Osidge and East Barnet are a couple of typical unfussy post war municipal libraries. Newer libraries include Chipping Barnet (1985-89) by the Barnet Borough in the era’s neo-vernacular and South Friern Library (2009) by Fourpoint Architects. The new South Friern Library replaced an earlier 1963 building by the Borough Architect's Department which included a Library and a Medical Clinic.
Whatever the future of Barnet’s libraries, and it looks bleak in the long run, the sequence of buildings produced by the boroughs Architects Department show the development of 20th century architectural styles. From the Neo-Tudor of Childs Hill, through Neo-Georgian in Finchley to post war Scandinavian modernism in Edgware and on to brutalism at Grahame Park, we can only hope that future generations are able to view theses changing styles, as well as use thebuildings for the purpose they were built for.
For more information on the battle to save Barnet’s libraries see Save Barnet Libraries and Broken Barnet
When the great British church architects are spoken of, many familiar names are mentioned; Christopher Wren, Augustus Pugin, George Gilbert Scott, and even straying into the 20th century, Basil Spence. One name is that is more obscure, but still significant in the history of English church design is Nugent Francis Cachemaille-Day. He was a prolific designer and restorer of churches from the 1920’s to the late 1950’s. He worked in a variety of styles, from traditional designs to expressionism to post war. Many of his church designs are listed and still welcoming worshippers today, but the designer behind them is still fairly unknown.
Cachemaille-Day was born in South Woodford, Essex in 1896, and after attending Westminster school, started his architectural career working for Louis des Soissons in Welwyn Garden City. Here he met Herbert Welch and Felix Lander, who he would join for a short lived but prolific partnership with at the start of the 1930’s. The trio designed a range of buildings throughout suburban London and the South East, from houses to shops and hotels to, of course, churches. The partnerships church designs were largely handled by Cachemaille-Day, and after 5 years he left to set up his own practice focusing on ecclesiastical design. Over the next twenty years, Cachemaille-Day would design around 50 new church buildings, as well as restoring many more, especially after the bomb damage of World War II. We will now take a look at some of his most interesting modernist church designs.
Cachemaille-Day had also worked for H.S. Goodhart-Rendel, known for his pared down gothic influenced church designs. Cachemaille-Day took some of this stripped down style and applied contemporary German Expressionist and Scandinavian influences. His fortress-like, purple brick church for St. Saviours, Eltham (1933) was described by Ian Nairn in Nairn's London as “A dark, tense, springy, hulk amongst the semi-detached houses” of the South London suburb.It was commisioned by the Southwark diocese as one of 25 to cater for the growing suburban congregations. Another of his many London suburban churches is St. Paul’s, South Harrow (1938), it's rendered walls, now turned grey, give it the austere air of a much later design from the early 1960’s.
Cachemaille-Day also designed a number of churches for the suburbs of Manchester and Leeds. Two of these are St Michael and All Angels, Northenden (1937) and St Nicholas, Burnage (1932). St Michael is built in red brick on a star shaped plan, formed by two unequal squares. Nikolas Pevsner called it “A sensational church for its country and its day”, as well as “revolutionary”. He also compared St. Nicholas to a “brick super-Odeon”, no doubt due to its monolithic brick structure, rounded at its eastern end. Pevsner again reached for the superlatives, hailing it as “ a milestone in the church architecture in England”. The Church of the Epiphany (1938) in Gipton, Leeds was also built to serve a growing suburb, with Cachemaille-Day’s designs consisting of a series of curves in brick, punctuated by long thin vertical windows.
The post war period brought Cachemaille-Day plenty of restoration work, due to the Luftwaffe rather than the ravages of time. However he did continue to design new churches and advance his style at the same time. In the borough of Hackney, Cachemaille-Day built two new churches; St Michael and All Angels, London Fields (1960) and St. Paul's, West Hackney (also 1960), as well as rebuilding St. Thomas, Clapton Common in the same year. Both new churches replaced ones destroyed in the blitz. St Michael is built in a square shape, with a foyer and hall either side, and a concrete dome forming the roof. The interior features stained glass by Cachemaille-Day and artwork by John Hayward, whose metalwork figure of St Michael also adorns the western entrance wall. St Paul's reflects both the post war style and Cachemaille-Day’s interwar churches in its austere brick design, set around a concrete frame. The interior again features work by John Hayward, this time stained glass , as well as paintings by Christopher Webb. These two churches, as well as others like All Saints, Hanworth (1951), show a progression from his expressionist influenced buildings of the 1930’s towards a more contemporary style that is austere on the exterior but inclusive inside.
Cachemaille-Day’s career began in the aftermath of World War I and ended as the post war white heat of technological revolution was beginning. He designed a wide range of buildings; houses, hotels, schools, apartments; but it is church building where he made his biggest impact. Never a slave to aesthetic doctrine, Cachemaille-Day’s designs changed from job to job and through time. However, the work that calls us to remember him today and no doubt in the future,are his modernist churches; strong, austere, expressionist designs that bought contemporary places of worship to the new suburbs.
This article first appeared in The Modernist magazine #19 FAITH
Friday 13th January sees the 45th anniversary of the UK theatrical release of Stanley Kubrick’s film “ A Clockwork Orange”. Based on Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel, the film was largely a box office and critical success. However, after being linked to two assaults and a rape, Kubrick asked Warner Brothers to withdraw the from from circulation in Britain. The film was only available through bootleg copies until Kubrick's death in 1999, when it was reissued. Burgess set his novel in a near future dystopian England, and to recreate this Kubrick made use of contemporary British architecture in all its modern Brutalist glory.
The most famous setting in the film is probably the Thamesmead Estate in Bexley, where the main character Alex is shown throwing two of his droogs into the lake. The estate was designed and built by the Greater London Council’s Architects Department to house 60,000 people and incorporate homes, schools, factories, shops, health centres and more. As with many grand housing projects of the era, the reality fell short of the original vision. Only around 43,000 people settled there and much of the plan was unbuilt. Building took place in two phases, from 1967-72, the section that Kubrick used, and then from 1974-78. The first section was designed with a mixture of housing; town houses, and medium rise and twelve storey blocks; with car free pedestrian walkways connecting everything. Due to a combination of the oil crisis and a backlash against the gigantic megastructure projects Thamesmead personified, much of the second phase, which included a swimming pool, library and a town centre, was not built. The housing that was built for the second phase was low rise and some of it in brick. The estate is currently being redeveloped with much of the starkest original design being demolished.
A building of the same era and style that also featured in the film, has enjoyed a better reputation. Featured in the film as the Ludovico Medical Clinic where Alex is brainwashed, the Lecture Theatre at Brunel University in Uxbridge is now Grade II listed. Designed by John Heywood of Richard Sheppard, Robson and Partners and completed in 1966, the lecture theatre was part of the expansion of the university campus, which also included buildings by Stillman & Eastwick-Field. The structure is built from reinforced concrete, with projecting box shaped lecture theatres, finished in board marked concrete. These are held up by concrete piers and a first floor of prefabricated concrete panels. The building was listed in June 2011, and has become part of the British university brutalist canon, including buildings like Stirling & Gowan’s Engineering Building in Leicester and Denys Lasdun’s student residences at the University of East Anglia. Other parts of the campus are featured in the film, with scenes in a police interrogation room, Alex’s hospital bed and his apartment block lobby filmed in Tower D and the John Crank building on the campus.
Another famous scene takes place at a record shop, where Alex meets two young women. The location for this was the Chelsea Drugstore, a pharmacy cum bar and hangout arranged over three floors, famously referred to in the Rollings Stones song “You Can't Always Get What You Want”. It was designed by Garnett, Cloughley & Blakemore, who are also known for designs such as the revolving restaurant on the Post Office Tower and Scratchwood services on the M1. Opening in 1968, and finished in glass and aluminium, the shop quickly became a place to be seen in swinging London. The shop is now a McDonalds, having also been a wine bar, meaning you can have a Big Mac in the same place Alex browses for records. A more sedate building you can visit to retrace Alex’s steps is Nettlefold Hall, part of West Norwood Library. In the film it is used as the location for a presentation to the media on Alex’s cure. In real life it was designed and built by Lambeth Architects Department, led by Ted Hollamby, in 1969. The hall is a large circular meeting space next to the library. The hall and library have now been closed and there are plans to open a cinema and library on the same space.
Two post war houses were used for the home of the writer played by Patrick Magee. For the exterior and garden shots, Kubrick used New House in Shipton-Under-Wychwood. Designed by Stout and Litchfield for prominent London barrister Milton Grundy in 1964, New House has an interesting composition of five linked pavilions with monopitch roofs, and a Japanese gravel garden. The house, constructed of local Cotswold stone, was Grade II listed in 1998. The interior used for this house in the film was Skybreak House in Radlett, Hertfordshire, designed by Team 4 and completed in 1966. Team 4 consisted of Norman Foster, Wendy Cheeseman, Richard Rogers and Su Brumwell, and they designed a house in brick which sloped down a hill with long slanted glass windows for entrepreneur Tony Jaffe. Apparently Kubrick had wanted to use a different house for the interior shots, 1 Aylmer Close in Stanmore was designed by Edward Samuel for Ernest Shelton, as a long low bungalow clad in timber. Shelton, one of the founders of the Dixons retail chain, it seems turned down Kubrick. The house in now Grade II listed.
One last building to mention is the most obscure on the list. Canterbury House in Borehamwood was used as the building for Alex’s flat. It is an 18 storey tower block designed by Herts County Council in 1968, and built by Wimpey Construction. In typical Kubrickian fashion, the director spent £5,000 redecorating the flat for filming and then putting it back to its original state, only to decide he needed a couple more shots a few weeks later and do it all again. A plaque on the outside of the building now commemorates the event.
The film version of A Clockwork Orange is remembered for many reasons, the outrage and controversy, Kubrick’s visual mastery, the music by Walter/Wendy Carlos, the iconic uniform of the droogs and much more. As we have seen, it is also an interesting snapshot of contemporary architecture, from brutalism and municipal high rise, to pop art hang outs and stylish houses. It is worth noting that these 1960’s designs, so divisive in the decades that followed, all survive, unlike many other earlier buildings from the film like the 1912 Karsino hotel in Kingston, so they cant be that baddiwad can they droogies?
London 2: South by Bridget Cherry, Nikolaus Pevsner
A Clockwork Orange Locations http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/c/clockwork.html#.WGTeW9KLTcs
Historic England https://www.historicengland.org.uk/
“The most remarkable show of its kind that you have ever seen! All the wonders of modern home planning, building, furnishing, decoration- brought together into one fascinating full scale exhibition”- Newspaper adverts for the 1934 Gidea Park Exhibition
Out in Zone 6, east of London in the borough of Havering, is a collection of modernist houses unlike any other in the country. Around a few streets in Gidea Park are 35 houses, all built as part of the 1934 Modern Homes Exhibition. Originally created as Romford Garden Suburb in 1911, Gidea Park already boasted 100 individually designed houses by architects such as Parker & Unwin, W. Curtis Green and C.M. Crickmer. Other architects who designed houses in Gidea Park at the time include Herbert A. Welch, who would go on to form the partnership of Welch, Lander & Day, and A.P. Starkey, designer of modernist cinemas. These first houses were firmly in the Arts and Crafts tradition of the early garden suburbs and cities, as seen in Hampstead and Letchworth.
25 years later with modernism and art deco spreading its influence from mainland Europe, another set of houses were built. Like the previous exhibition, there were competition categories, with 5 groups by price in 1934. The new houses were constructed to the north of the existing suburbs and grouped around 3 roads; Heath Drive, Brook Road and Eastern Avenue. From nearly 500 entries around 35 houses, in a variety of inter war styles were built along these three roads.There are examples of international style modernism, art deco and more intermediate styles that mix modernism and traditional English house forms.
The best example of the austere international modernist style is 64 Heath Drive by Tecton. This pioneering modernist firm was formed in 1932, and contained among its members the likes of Berthold Lubetkin, Denys Lasdun, Francis Skinner and Godfrey Samuel. It was Skinner who was the principal designer of 64 Heath Drive, and he was only 26 when it was completed. The house is constructed of reinforced concrete and set in a L Plan with a roof terrace. The original intention was for this design to be part of a terrace, producing the effect of a long white wall. It won first prize in Category E of the competition, and is now Grade II listed having been restored inside and out.
Another pair of modernist style houses in the suburb are 320 & 322 East Avenue by Holford, Stevenson & Yorke. The Yorke being FRS Yorke, designer of Torilla Nash, Hatfield and Sea Lane House, Angmering-on-Sea, as well as being a founder member of the post war firm YRM. These were his first house designs, and he designed them in an austere modernist style, with flat roofs, plain rendered walls and minimal windows at the front. Unfortunately, one of the pair has not been kept very well and looks rather dilapidated. Rather more art deco in character is 62 Heath Drive by John Leech, with its white walls, ornate window frames and stepped door entrance.
Most of the other 1935 houses are more of a compromise between modernist ideals and traditional comforts. Winner of the C Class Category was 15 Brook Road by J.R. Moore-Simpson. This house features a flat roof, brick walls and steel Critall windows, but none of the austerity or sophistication of the the houses already mentioned. The other 31 houses largely follow this template, “Modern” enough to be different from their 1911 predecessors, but not too radical to be frightening to the stockbroker belt. Almost all of the houses have been added to over the years, with tudorbethan embellishments and disfiguring extensions widespread. However many houses have been taken back to their original states, the best example being Tecton’s 64 Heath Drive, which has had its interior purged of fake beams, oak panelling and Spanish tiles amongst much else!
Other modernist housing estates were built in the 1930’s. For some only a fraction of the planned houses were completed (Pinnerwood Park by Connell, Ward & Lucas, Warren Estate by Gerald Lacoste) or had a large number built like Frinton (still not all that were planned) but largely by a couple of architects, in this case Oliver Hill and J.T. Shenton. The 1935 Gidea Park Estate stands in contrast to these as a completed project by a variety of different designers. Although the Tecton house overshadows the other designs, the estate forms an interesting window on interwar house design and the compromise between Continental modernism and British traditionalism.
Modernist Semis and Terraces in England by Finn Jensen
London: East by Bridget Cherry, Charles O'Brien, Nikolaus Pevsner
Thank you to everybody who came along to the two tours of Stanmore's modernist homes on Saturday, it was great to see so many of you. As promised here are the full notes of the tour plus all the interesting photos mentioned.
Metro-Land was created by the extension of the Metropolitan Railway out of London and into Middlesex and the home counties. Land leftover from the construction of the new line was used for speculative housing, and formerly sleepy towns and villages like Wembley, Harrow, Pinner and Ruislip experienced a population boom in the first half of the 20th century. For example the population of nearby Harrow Weald went from 1,500 in 1901 to 11,000 in 1931.
The default architectural style of these new leafy suburbs was Tudorbethan as seen at nearby Canons Park, a mix of traditional styles on the exterior, matched by the comforts of modernity inside. Modernism was the upcoming style of the era, spreading to Britain from Europe, and examples can be found throughout Metroland; in Ruislip with house designs by Connell, Ward & Lucas and Ealing by Welch, Lander & Day. These buildings, as well as Charles Holden’s tube stations and George Coles’ cinemas, all added art deco and international style modernism to the growing suburbs, including here in Stanmore.
Stanmore also underwent a growth spurt after the new Metropolitan Railway terminus, designed by Charles W. Clark, was built in 1932. This area we are now in was part of the Warren House estate, founded by the first Duke of Chandos. In 1922 the house was inherited by Sir John Fitzgerald, and he decided to sell parcels of the land off for the development. The company initially given the rights folded without building anything, so construction did not take place until the 1930’s. The part of the estate we will look at is the junction of two roads, Valencia Road and Kerry Avenue.
Architect Gerald Lacoste was given the commission to build 6 houses on Kerry Avenue. These designs were intended to be part of larger modernist style estate, but these 6 where the extent of the plan. Lacoste had previously been assistant to architects Edwin Lutyens and Oswald Milne, and was only 27 at the time of the Kerry Avenue commissions. He had also previously designed a house for Gracie Fields in Frognal, Hampstead. His six houses share many similar features with the Valencia Rd buildings, flat roofs, rounded staircase towers, etc, but are more circumspect in appearance. The houses as a group are designed to be similar but not monotonous, using the same elements but in differing arrangements. The Kerry Ave buildings are constructed of brick, but have a mixture of exposed brick and snowcrete finishes. which is a white cement used for rendering, to give the impression of concrete. Building the houses in brick may have happened because there was a shortage of building firms who had expertise in constructing in reinforced concrete in the 1930’s. These houses were completed in 1937, and are now part of the Kerry Avenue conservation area.
The Valencia Road section was developed by Douglas Wood Architects. Although they were granted permission for development in 1931, the houses were not built until 1935. Nos. 2-10 (even) were designed by the firm in the international style with plain rendered walls, central staircase towers and sun decks. The houses have an obvious vertical emphasis, with the staircase towers, vertical window strips and sun decks adding the bulk of the buildings, already emphasized by their position on a slope. The large windows and sun decks came from the growing awareness and fashionability of the health benefits of sunlight and sun bathing.
The houses are constructed of brick, and finished in snowcrete, like the Kerry Ave houses. Nos 4&6 were built as a symmetrical pair, and have rounded tower staircases. Nos 8 and 10 are also very similar to each other, whilst not quite being identical, composed of all straight lines. No.2 is the most altered of the five houses, having originally looked like its immediate neighbour, without the tower staircase. The Valencia Road houses are also now part of the conservation area.
14 & 16 Kerry Avenue
At the northern end of Kerry Avenue are two individual modernist houses, No.14 designed by RH Uren for himself in 1937, and its neighbour No.16 designed by Gerard Kauffman in 1968. No.14 is built in yellow brick in the international style similar to the other houses in the area. Uren was a New Zealand born architect, who moved to Britain in 1930. His big break was his winning design for Hornsey Town Hall in 1933. He designed a number of other buildings in Britain, including Rayners Lane Tube station (1938) and the Granada Woolwich cinema (1937).
No.16 is a much later building, designed and built in 1968 by the architect Gerd Kauffman for Cherrill & Ian Scheer. Cherrill Scheer, heir to the Hille Furniture family, grew up at No.14. Like its neighbours, it is constructed of brick, with large windows to create differing light levels in each room. Kaufmann is known mainly for his suburban houses, there are examples here in Stanmore, as well as Mill Hill and Hampstead.
Unrecognisable today, these twin apartment blocks were designed by architect and engineer Owen Williams and built in 1936. Designed in an austere fashion and built in concrete, the buildings have undergone successive refurbishments and extensions. Williams is not known for his domestic designs so it is a shame these buildings have ended up as they have.
Nos 1 & 2 Halsbury Close were designed by emigre architect Rudolf Frankel, who fled to Britain from Germany via Romania in 1933 No.1, built in 1938 for Frankel's sister, is made up of two brick cubes, one for a garage and one for the main house. The house features a cut away corner that opens out onto the garden. No.2, built for himself also in 1938, is a simple box form finished in render and with tile hanging on the second floor. It was apparently altered in the 1970’s to fit in with the new houses built behind it. Frankel mainly produced industrial buildings in Britain, designing factories in London and Cheshire before moving to America in 1950.
This close on the private Aylmer Road estate features a couple of interesting post war houses. No.1, designed by Edward Samuel in 1963, is a long low bungalow, built of brick and wood. According to Wikipedia, Stanley Kubrick wanted to use the house in A Clockwork Orange.The owner, Ernest Shelton refused, and Kubrick instead used Team 4’s Skybreak House in Radlett. Samuel, who trained under Sir Basil Spence, was known for his bungalow designs, as well as his work on the townscape in Highgate. No. 2 is a brutalist style concrete house, designed by Gerd Kaufmann in 1967, designer of No.16 Kerry Avenue, and it echoes in its design the 1930’s houses of Kerry Ave & Valencia Rd, which its circular staircase tower and flat roof.
Elsewhere in Stanmore
Elsewhere around Stanmore there are plenty of interesting inter and post war houses of all styles.
Cedar House, Common Lane (1938) Designed by architect and planner Max Lock for Miss M. Welsford
44 & 45 Little Common (1970) A pair of split pitched roofed houses by Harrow Borough architect J. Redman.
Tremar, Green Lane (1935) by A.L. Abbott. An asymmetrical Art Deco style house.
Eden Lodge, Stanmore Hill (1935) by H. Hobson Hill. A colonial style house, with dutch gables and green tiled roof, similar in design to No.116 opposite.
51 Dennis Lane (1936) Also known as the Garden House, designed by architect, landscape designer and planner Geoffrey Jellicoe.
Open House London is here again this weekend, opening the doors of hundreds of buildings across London’s boroughs. Here is our annual guide to the best art deco, modernist and brutalist buildings on the programme.
You can visit four estates from the Camden Architects Department under Sydney Cook. Alexandra Road (Neave Brown), Dunboyne Road (Neave Brown again), Stoneleigh Terrace (Peter Tabori) and Mansfield Road (Benson & Forsyth) are all available for visitors. There are plenty other post war estates if that's your thing. Robin Hood Gardens, Worlds End Estate, Dawson's Heights, Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill are open for viewing. Another set of post war estates on show are Berthold Lubetkin and Tectons work for Finsbury at Priory Green and Bevin Court, and their Cranbrook estate in Tower Hamlets.
Erno Goldfinger only designed three schools in his career and they can all be seen this weekend, Haggerston Girls School in Hackney, Brandlehow in Wandsworth, and Greenside in Hammersmith. You can also visit Goldfinger's own house, 2 Willow Road in Hampstead, as well as his Trellick Tower in North Kensington. Two more post war schools can be seen, Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park by HKPA, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and Hugh Myddleton School in Finsbury designed by Julian Sofaer.
There are also a few interesting post war churches to see. St Paul's, Bow Common by Maguire and Murray, voted Britain's best post war church, St Paul's in Lorrimore Square by Woodroofe Buchanan & Coulter and St Boniface’s in Whitechapel by Donald Plaskett Marshall & Partners.
If the interwar period is more your era, then there is plenty of art deco and international style modernism to see. Pullman Court in Streatham by Frederick Gibberd, the Isokon flats by Wells Coates, the Daimler Hire Garage by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Senate House and 55 Broadway by Charles Holden, the Peter Jones store in Sloane Square should keep you busy all weekend. There are also two tube station tours this year. The modernist Piccadilly Line stations of Charles Holden can be visited starting at Cockfosters. As can the earlier more Arts and Crafts influenced station on Northern Line Edgware extension by Stanley Heaps.
Of course we think that the more interesting buildings can be found beyond Zones 1 & 2, out in the suburbs. Three great examples of post war housing are open, Langham House Close flats by Stirling & Gowan in Richmond, and the St Bernard's houses in Croydon by Swiss firm Atelier 5. As last year there are two Walter Segal streets to see, Walters Way and Segal Close will showcase his influential self build house philosophy in Lewisham.
In Enfield there is the moderne QEII Stadium designed in 1939 by Frank Lee, with its distinctive drum staircase. Also designed in 1939 is the Church of the Holy Cross in Greenford by Albert Richardson. The new church is situated alongside its 15th century namesake and celebrates the 75th anniversary of its consecration this year.
Another building celebrating an anniversary this year is the Rayners Lane Grosvenor Cinema (now a Zoroastrian Centre) Designed by FE Bromige and opened in 1936, this art deco wonder is worth a trip out to Harrow. Other cinemas open include Bromige’s Rio cinema in Dalston, the Phoenix in East Finchley and the former Granada Cinema in Tooting with its wondrous Theodore Komisarjevsky interior. Two suburban libraries offer an interesting contrast The post war Fullwell Cross Library by Frederick Gibberd in Barkingside and Kenton Library in Harrow, designed by the Middlesex County Council architects Curtis and Burchett.
And to finish off, once again this year we will be hosting out Modernism in Metroland walking tour of Stanmore’s Art Deco and Modernist houses on Saturday. The tours take place at 10am and 2pm and we will be exploring houses by architects like Douglas Wood, Gerald Lacoste, Owen WillIams, Reginald Uren, Gerd Kaufmann and more. For more details see HERE.
If you can't wait for Open House London on the 17th & 18th September for your architectural tour fix, why not try the Essex Architectural Weekend on the 10th & 11th? There are a host of modernist and art deco buildings to see, throughout the county. The weekend will see talks, walks, film screenings and exhibitions based around the modernist estates of Silver End, Frinton-on-Sea and Bata East Tilbury.
Buildings that are opening their doors include Tecton’s 64 Heath Drive, Gidea Park, the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club by Joseph Emberton, the University of Essex in Colchester, the Bishopsfield Estate in Harlow and many more. There will also be a film screening and Q&A with Jonathan Meades on Saturday at the Silver End Village Hall.
Check the full programme and book your places HERE.
Once again we have been asked to host an Open House London tour. On Saturday 17th 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 other 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 Hopefully we will have wonderful weather just like last year!
IMPORTANT INFO: The tours will be on Saturday 19th 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!
Time for another post rounding up the ongoing and upcoming events that modernists may be interested in....
First of all, our friends in the north, the Manchester Modernist Society are holding their Making Post-War Manchester exhibition at the Manchester Technology Centre until Thursday June 23rd http://www.modernist-society.org/events/making-mcrwww.modernist-society.org/events/making-mcr It focuses on the Manchester that never was, revealing the plans that were never made reality.
Also open now, is the Designology exhibition at the London Transport Museum. exploring the way design is used on London's transport network in the past, present and future. Artist such as Harry Beck, Edward Johnston and Alan Rogers have created pieces of design to make passengers days easier and brighter as they commute around the city. Details on the exhibition and other events HERE
Opening on Saturday June 18th at the V&A is Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/engineering-the-world Looking at the career of engineer, designer and architect Ove Arup and the firm he founded, Arup Associates. The exhibition looks at some of their diverse output such as Highpoint, the Sydney Opera House, the penguin pool at London Zoo and Centre Pompidou. Arup studied philosophy before turning to engineering, but the concept of a methodical system of exploring the world never left his mind and greatly influenced his work throughout his career.
Open until October is the Isokon Gallery, situated in the wonderful Isokon building in Lawn Road, Hampstead. Designed by Wells Coates and opened in 1934, the modernist Isokon building was intended as "an experiment in new ways of urban living", and the exhibtion tells the story of how it was built and its return to glory after being neglected in the 1980's and 90's http://isokongallery.co.uk/
Finally to round things off a couple of walking tours. Stevenage Museum is putting on a tour of the new towns pubs and ale houses with local historian Hugh Madgin http://www.stevenage.gov.uk/news-and-events/events/161548/ Stevenage has recently lost two fine examples of the post war pub; The Twin Foxes by Halliday, Vincent and Carey and The King Pin by Martin Preistmann, but the tour will visit those remaining.
And last but not least is our own walking tour of the western Piccadilly Line stations on Saturday July 9th, starting at Rayners Lane and finishing up at Park Royal. We will also be visiting the wonderful Sudbury Town station in the week of its 85th birthday! As well as tube stations we will also see art deco cinemas, post war flats, modernist churches and the interwar Hanger hill estate, please come and join us! More details HERE.
Whatever you choose to do, we hope you enjoy it!