Thank you to Blue Crow Media for sending us the wonderful Art Deco London and Brutalist London Maps ( £8 each or £14.50 for both, and available HERE). The just published, Art Deco map showcases a variety of beautiful 1920's and 30's buildings all over London, many of which are Modernism in Metro-Land favorites, from the Piccadilly Line stations we visited on our recent tour, to the factories of Wallis, Gilbert and Partners along the Golden Mile and Western Avenue, to RH Uren's Hornsey Town Hall. The map features an introduction by Henrietta Billings and photos by Simon Phipps.
The Brutalism map, published last year, again features writing by Henrietta Billings and photos by Simon Phipps (aka @new_brutalism). The buildings featured are the best of London's many Brutalist structures, such as the Alexandra Road Estate, Trellick Tower and Robin Hood Gardens, as well as lesser known buildings like Brian Housden's House in Hampstead and Hendon Hall Court by Owen Luder. The maps are a perfect double act to guide you around some of London's 20th Century architecture, (and if you need more buildings to see don't forget our digital map HERE).
An update to our blog post from last July Save St. George's
An application has been put in for local listing, hoping to buy some more time to save this unique 1970's church.
You can read and object on the planning application until Tuesday 3rd May HERE Enter P2015/5074/FUL
Please comment on the application if you would like to see the church saved and reused for the community, rather than be demolished for flats.
A great appraisal of the church by Ian Hunt can be read HERE
After the success of our Open House Stanmore tours last year, we will be holding a walking tour of some of Charles Holden’s Piccadilly Line stations on Saturday May 14th. Starting at Turnpike Lane and working our way up to the terminus at Cockfosters, we will be looking at some of Holden’s most iconic London Transport work. Taking in the stations of Turnpike Lane, Wood Green, Bounds Green, Arnos Grove, Southgate, Oakwood and Cockfosters, we will also note other modernist buildings along the way, such as Curtis and Burchett's work for Middlesex County Council.
To coincide with the anniversary of Charles Holden’s birth on May 12th, the tour will take place on Saturday May 14th at 10.30 AM.
Tickets are £10 per person (plus booking fee), and can be booked here https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/242990 .
The tour will be limited to 25 people, so book early! The route will be a mixture of walking and tube, so please bring a topped up Oyster card/contactless credit or debit card and a pair of comfortable walking shoes, plus any refreshments you may need. The tour should take approximately 2.5-3 hours.
If there is sufficient interest in this tour, we will also host a visit to some of the western extension Piccadilly Line stations in July, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the opening of Sudbury Town station. If you have any questions about these tours please email email@example.com or use the reply form below.
The career of Owen Williams took in both triumph and disaster, moving from purely functional engineering projects to more expressionist, proto-brutalist buildings. Williams would produce a huge range of buildings and constructions over his fifty year working period, producing motorways, factories, aircraft hangars, offices, apartment blocks, health centres and much much more. He was a driving force in the construction of twentieth century Britain, and a pioneer in the use of a material that would define the post war city, concrete.
Evan Owen Williams was born in Tottenham in 1890, to a Welsh mother and father who had moved to North London to open a grocers shop. While serving an apprenticeship at the Metropolitan Electric Tramways Company, Williams studied Engineering by night class, eventually earning first class honours, before going to work for two engineering firms, Indented Bar & Concrete Engineering and then Trussed Steel Engineering. It was at these companies that Williams got to use and experiment with reinforced concrete, and explore its architectural possibilities. The first known building he was involved with was the Gramophone Factory in Hayes in 1913. A functional, six storey building, it has none of the adornments of most factories of its era, and looks forward to the modernist factory of the twenties and thirties, and across to the pioneering European factories of Peter Behrens and Gropius & Meyer. The building is still standing and now Grade II listed.
Williams spent World War One designing experimental projects for the Admiralty, such flying boats and the use of concrete in ship building. After the war Williams set up his own company and became involved in a project that would end up gaining him a Knighthood, the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. Designed to bring all corners of the Empire together and show the variety of its cultures and commerce, the Empire Exhibition was built on the site of Sir Edwin Watkins failed tower on the edge of north west London. Williams was chosen by the exhibition chief designer, Maxwell Ayrton, to assist in the creation of the Palaces of Industry, Engineering and Art. These buildings were not modernist in design, but were pioneering in terms of their concrete construction. The Palace of Engineering was the largest concrete building in the world at half a million square feet. The exhibition was a great success, with over 27 million visitors from its opening in 1924. However, very little remains of the site with all three Palaces now demolished.
Williams did design a nearby building that has stood the test of time, the Empire Pool, now known as Wembley Arena. It was completed in 1933 for the following years Commonwealth Games (and later used for the 1948 and 2012 Olympic Games). Williams used concrete fins on the exterior of the building to support the massive roof over the pool area, and these and the water towers in each corner and the unabashed use of concrete, lends the building a fortress-like air. At this stage in his career Williams was riding the crest of a wave, with his Daily Express buildings in London and Manchester and the Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham, seen as exemplary modern buildings, balancing form and function.
Probably William's greatest achievement is his work on the Boots Factory in Beeston. Built between 1930 and 1938, this factory complex is an integrated site that can be rearranged or extended as needed. It incorporates “Wet” and “Dry” areas as well as packing areas, offices, canteens and laboratories. Williams expressive use of concrete, as well as steel framed glazing, again pointed forward to the buildings of the post war period. The site is now Grade I listed and seen a masterpiece of the modern movement. However, not everything Williams touched turned to gold. His design for the Dollis Hill Synagogue (1938) was not well received by the congregation, and he was forced to return part of his fee. The building is one of Williams most stylised in design, the point at which he goes from being an engineer to an architect. Nevertheless, this reinforced concrete building is now Grade II listed and used as a primary school.
Williams career never picked up the same momentum of the early thirties, although two of his greatest buildings would be built after the Second War War, the BOAC Maintenance HQ (1955) and the Daily Mirror building (1961). The BOAC building saw Williams using the skill he had deployed on the Boots factory, producing a complex consisting of four aircraft hangars, each measuring 102 metres by 43. Williams used his expertise with concrete construction to produce a building that is still in use at Heathrow 60 years later. The Daily Mirror was built at Holborn Circus in collaboration with Anderson, Foster and Wilcox,with Williams overseeing the engineering and construction, and the partnership designing the exterior and interiors. The finished building housed offices and printing presses and was the heart of the newspapers operations until 1994, when they moved to Canary Wharf. The building was demolished not long afterwards.
Over his fifty year career, Owen Williams moved from being an engineer to the architect of some of Britains best modernist buildings. At his best he combined structural robustness and expressive design using just concrete and glass. The tension between engineering and architectural design was perfectly balanced in his best buildings, and it is only when he tried a more artistic style that he faltered. However he will be remembered as pioneer in the use of concrete and set a template for the way buildings would be built for the rest of the 20th century.
This article first appeared in The Modernist issue #14 ENGINEER
I thought I would write a quick post to round up a number interesting exhibitions in London that are open, opening are coming soon... First up, Concrete and Controversy: The Architecture of Connell, Ward and Lucas at the Paul Mellon Centre closes this week(on Jan 29th) http://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/whats-on/forthcoming/concrete-controversy Focusing on some of the controversial CW&L house designs such as High and Over in Amersham and 66 Frognal in Hampstead, the exhibtion closes on Friday. More on Connell, Ward and Lucas HERE
In the same street (Bedford Square, WC1B) is Walters Way- The Self Build Revolution at the AA School of Architecture, http://www.aaschool.ac.uk/PUBLIC/WHATSON/exhibitions.php, looking at the legacy of architect and writer Walter Segal. This exhibition has been extended until March 24th. Read more on Walter Segal HERE
Opening next week (Feb 2nd) at Somerset House as part of the Utopia season is Out There: Our Post-War Public Art http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/out-there The first major exhibition by Historic England looking at the rich seam of public murals, sculptures, reliefs and other public artworks produced after 1945. The exhibition will also focus on the works of public art that have been destroyed or gone missing recently. To coincide with the opening of the exhibition we will be tweeting some or our favorite public art works.
Finally, opening tomorrow (Jan 26th) at the Royal Academy of Arts is Mavericks-Breaking the mould of British architecture https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/mavericks-breaking-the-mould-of-british-architecture, featuring among others Charles Holden and James Stirling. Whichever you go to, we hope you enjoy it!
Stanley Heaps (1880–1962) was the Chief Architect for London Transport and its forerunner, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, and designed a large number of stations still in use today, and yet he remains an uncelebrated figure. This is mainly because he is overshadowed by the giants of tube station design Leslie Green, Charles Holden and Frank Pick. Heaps was assistant to Green, who held the position of Chief Architect from 1903 until his death in 1908. Heaps then took over Green’s role and remained in the position until the Second World War. But even as the overseer of station design he was overshadowed by Charles Holden. Holden was bought as consultant architect to UERL by Frank Pick, the company's Assistant Managing Director, who wanted a more modern style for the company's stations. Despite this slight, Heaps continued the produce station designs by himself and in collaboration with Holden and other architects
Heaps began his career working under Green for UERL, and assisting him in the design of stations like Belsize Park and Chalk Farm (both 1907) Green’s stations are identifiable for their exteriors of oxblood red tiling and semi circular windows. These design features were used by Heaps in two of the first stations he designed after the death of Green, Kilburn Park and Maida Vale, part of the Bakerloo Line extension. Heaps next major project came after World War I with the design of stations for the expansion of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (now part of the Northern Line). Heaps designed five stations, Brent Cross, Colindale, Hendon Central, Edgware and Burnt Oak, that unlike his previous work, would be situated in the leafy North London suburbs. To fit in with these surroundings Heaps, with assistant Thomas Bilbow, designed the stations in a more suburban style. The stations were built in brick, with tiled roofs and colonnades on the exterior. These stations have now succumbed to the suburban sprawl they helped to create, with Hendon surrounded by additional buildings. Colindale was hit by a bomb in 1940 and was eventually replaced in 1962.
Pick had begun his overhaul of the networks visual identity before World War I, finding new artists to produce a range of eye catching promotional posters, and choosing Edward Johnston to create his now iconic typeface. In the mid-1920’s Pick turned his attention to the design of the stations. Wanting to bring a Modernist style to the network, Pick employed Charles Holden as a consultant. Pick wanted stations designed in a contemporary style, and that were well lit and welcoming to passengers, acting as advertisements for the network. Heaps carried on designing stations, as well as train depots and bus garages for the newly integrated transport network. Throught the 1930’s, Heaps and his assistant and Holden and his firm of Adams, Holden & Pearson worked together to change the face of London Transport buildings. It is rather difficult to define exactly who designed each station, as the working relationship was quite tangled. Often, Holden or one of his assistants such as Felix Lander or Charles Hutton, would provide a street elevation of a potential building and leave Heaps’ group to flesh out the working drawings and details like platforms and access to them. Also Heaps was often the supervising architect on site, where again he would be involved with ironing out the nitty gritty of the Holden produced designs.
Heaps acted as supervising architect on the building of Ealing Common and Hounslow West, both built in 1931 and designed by Holden with heptagonal ticket halls clad in Portland stone. Heaps then co-designed with Holden two projects that went beyond just a station. At Northfields, a ticket hall and train depot were built (1932), with Heaps all supervising on site, and at Alperton (1932), a ticket hall was created on an awkward site (the street was below the tracks) with an adjoining bus garage (completed 1939). Further along the Piccadilly line extension, Heaps team was part of the design of the new station at Osterley (1934). Heaps and Holdens teams both created designs, with Holden’s design (with Charles Hutton) featuring a concrete obelisk, winning out. Heaps again did design much of the infrastructure for the finished building. Rayners Lane (1938) was again a result of collaboration between the two camps, with the design being passed back and forth between Heaps and Holden and Reginald Uren.
Heaps and his team did design a few stations independently of Holden. A new streamline moderne style entrance on Warwick Road was added to Earls Court in 1937. The new entrance was redesigned to allow better access to the recently opened exhibition centre, and has been amended with a control centre added in the 1970’s. Hammersmith station was given new platforms and waiting rooms as part of the Piccadilly line extension in 1930, with a new entrance by Holden. Harrow-on-the-Hill station was built in 1938, despite the protestations of the private schools board to serve the Metropolitan line. The station was built in a moderne style, with some typically Holdenesque platform canopies. Unfortunately it is now hard to get an idea of the outside of the station as it has been gradually surrounded by successive developments. A similar fate has befallen St Johns Wood (1939), built in a moderne style again with a wonderful escalator design being the highlight of the station.
Stanley Heaps served the various iterations of London Transport for most of the first half of the 20th Century. He helped design a wealth of tube stations, bus stations, depots, garages and various other buildings essential to the running of the company. He worked with a variety of designers, architects and managers to create a transport network that was pleasurable to use and look at and was envied throughout the world. He is name isn't placed alongside of those like Holden, Green and Pick, but it is worth remembering the part Heaps played to help create it.
The Buildings of England- London 3: North West by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner
The Buildings of England- London 4: North by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner
Bright Underground Spaces: The Railway Stations of Charles Holden by David Lawrence
These are the notes for the Modernism in Metroland Open House London tour of Stanmore on Saturday Sept 19th. Thank you to all those who attended. We had almost double the max of 25 on each tour, but I hope you enjoyed it! I have to say a big thank you to Ian & Cherrill Scheer who very generously opened their home, No.16 Kerry Avenue, to us. I think it was the highlight of both tours, although the Spitfires that flew over Fallowfield in the afternoon were pretty special too! If the tour stimulated your interest in the kind of houses we saw on Saturday, please take a look around the inter war & post war homes section on this website, you may find somewhere else to explore.
Metro-Land was created by the extension of the Metropolitan Railway out of London 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, 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 Pinner, 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 Underground (now Jubilee Line) 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 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 sun light and sun bathing.
The houses are constructed of brick, and finished in snowcrete, 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. Nos 4&6 were built as a symmetrical pair, and have rounded central towers 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 slightly odd one out of the five houses, sitting alone on the corner site where Valencia Road and Kerry Avenue meet.
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 Kerry Ave houses have a more horizontal emphasis than there neighbours, with long windows and two storeys instead of three.. The houses as a group are designed to be similar but not monotonous, using the same elements but in differing arrangements. Like the Douglas Wood houses, the Kerry Ave buildings are also constructed of brick, but have a mixture of exposed brick and snowcrete finishes. These houses were completed in 1937.
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 Gerd Kaufmann in 1968. No.14 is built in yellow brick in an 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), all three of which can be visited on Open House weekend.
No.16 is a much later building, designed and built in 1968 by the architect Gerd Kaufmann 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. Of course, the Hille company have another modernist architectural link, their headquarters in Watford was designed by Erno Goldfinger.
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. 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.
Further up Stanmore Hill, cul de sacs such as Spring Lake, Pine Close and Fallowfield were built from the 1960’s onwards, and show an abundance of mid century housing styles. These houses were often specially built for their first owners, in contrast to the houses on Kerry Ave & Valencia Road which are part of a speculative development. Fallowfield is home to a number of interesting houses, not many of which I have any information about. No.11 was designed for himself by Hubert Lidbetter, a renowned architect of Quaker meeting houses. He was assisted by his son and partner H. Martin Lidbetter, and Richard Seifert. Seifert of course is better known for his skyscraper designs, such as Centrepoint and Tower 42. The house was built between 1955 and 1971.
A link to a Google map of the tour route, for those who didn't make it all the way around or who want to recreate it,
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 monopitch 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.
The Buildings of England- London 3: North West by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner
The English Semi-Detached House by Finn Jensen
Stanmore Hill- Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy by Harrow Council
Old Church Lane- Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy by Harrow Council
Kerry Avenue- Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy by Harrow Council
Its that time of year again when the great and good buildings of London open their doors for he architecturally minded to nose about. Open House London Weekend is this weekend 19th and 20th September. For those of a modernist persuasion there is more than ever too see. All the usual big names are open; Highpoint, Willow Road, Senate House, Alexandra Road, Daimler Garage, Finsbury Health Centre, Priory Green, Trellick Tower etc.
Of course you wish to venture further afield and see some of suburbia modernist and art deco delights. Again there are plenty of hidden gems to keep your Oyster card topped up for. If the golden age of the silver screen is your thing you can visit the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, Muswell Hill Odeon, Tooting Granada, Kilburn Gaumont State or the Woolwich Granada. If you feel like going back to school you can take your pencil case to Drake & Lasdun’s Hallfield Primary, Hugh Myddleton School by Julian Soafer, Erno Goldfinger’s Greenside Primary or the moderne Uphall Primary in Ilford. More learning can be had at Basil Spence’s Swiss Cottage Library or Fullwell Cross Library by Frederick Gibberd. Another library on a smaller scale but no less heroic, is Verity-Jane Keefe’s Mobile Museum celebrating Barking’s housing estates.
For the more religious minded there are plenty of options. Opening to view are Mitcham Methodist by E.D. Mills, the Wanstead Quaker meeting house by Norman Frith or Mcguire & Murray’s St Paul's Bow Common, recently voted the best post war church in Britain. Of course it is Open “House” weekend and there are plenty of homes to go snooping through. In terms of social housing, apart from the examples listed earlier, there is Peter Tabori’s Stoneleigh Terrace in Camden or Eric Lyon’s World's End estate in Chelsea. For private housing you can see Pullman Court by Gibberd, 31b St Marys Road by Foggo & Thomas, Geoffrey Darke’s Darke House or St Bernards Houses in Croydon by Swiss post war architects Atelier 5. If self building is your thing there you can visit Segal Close and Walters Way, projects designed by and named after Walter Segal, or the Segal influenced Greenstreet housing in Lewisham.
If you dont want to fit into any of these preconceived boxes, there are a few buildings that may suit you. Harefield Hospital in Hillingdon by WT Curtis contains a curved moderne TB sanatorium from 1937. The iconic 1931 art deco Walthamstow Stadium is due to be redeveloped soon, so catch it while you can. Another building being redeveloped is Charles Holden’s 55 Broadway, originally built as London Underground's HQ and soon to be turned into apartments. It probably won't quite be warm enough for a dip, but you can see Uxbridge Lido in its refurbished glory. Originally built in an art deco style in 1935, it was reopened in 2010. For those who prefer a bit a of brutalism, the Embassy of the Slovak Republic designed by Czech architects Jan Sramek, Jan Bocan and Karel Stepansky in 1965,may be of interest.
This year sees the return of Harrow to Open House London, as there are a number of interesting buildings to see in the home of Metro-Land. There is an opportunity to explore two great buildings right next to each other in Rayners Lane, the Tube Station by Charles Holden and Reginald Uren, and opposite the Grosvenor Cinema by FE Bromige (now The Zoroastrian Centre.). Kenton Library by the MCC architects Curtis and Burchett will be open on Saturday for those wanting to see a great example of Middlesex interwar modernism. For those who want see to see Metro-Lands mix of Art Deco and Tudorbeathen, the Canons Park Estate tour on Sunday is for you. Two post war projects we mentioned in our overview of the boroughs architects department recently (In House Part 2) can be seen, the Grange Farm Estate and Harrow Civic Centre.
And last but not least, our own walking tour, of Stanmore’s art deco and modernist houses featuring buildings by Gerald Lacoste, Douglas Wood, Owen Williams, Rudolf Frankel and more, will take place on Saturday. There will be two tours, at 10am and 2pm, on a first come basis. More details here.
A special mention goes to architect Reginald Uren. Not as feted as his contemporaries like Charles Holden and George Coles, nevertheless the New Zealand born architect has 4 buildings on show this year. Aside from the already mentioned Woolwich Granada and Rayners Lane Station, you can visit his Hornsey Town Hall and his house in Stanmore. Don’t forget that some of the buildings mentioned may need pre booking, so please check before you go. Wherever you end up, we hope you enjoy visiting some of London’s modernist marvels!
In the first two parts of this series we saw how some of the Metro-Land boroughs responded to their new powers post 1965. Camden and Hillingdon executed wide ranging programmes of low rise social housing, using modernism and the neo-vernacular respectively. Other boroughs, such as Hounslow and Brent, stuck to the contemporary high rise, prefab of the era. In the final part we will see how the architects departments of the North Eastern boroughs went about their business. We will be looking at the buildings of Haringey, Enfield and Barnet.
Haringey probably stuck the closest to Sydney Cook and Camden’s blueprint of progressive, low rise housing designed by a variety of in house and private architects. Like many of London's boroughs, Haringey encompasses both the rich and poor, taking in the middle class villages of Highgate and Hornsey, as well as the deprived areas of Wood Green and Tottenham. The former area was well served by private development, so the borough concentrated their efforts on the latter. The borough's flagship project was the Broadwater Farm Estate (1966-71) in Tottenham. Overseen by chief architect C.E. Jacob and deputy Alan Weitzel, it was designed to house between 3,000-4,00 people in just over 1000 homes. The estate consists of 12 buildings connected by walkways, in a mix of high and low rise. They were constructed using plain concrete slabs in a system built plan. The architectural centrepiece is Tangmere, a six storey ziggurat, combing shops and homes, with angled balconies. The estate became infamous during the riots of 1985 and murder of PC Keith Blakelock. Following this, a regeneration plan was implemented, and over the next 30 years the estate was refurbished, leading to it having some of the lowest urban crime rates in the world and a lengthy waiting list to move onto the estate.
Haringey mirrored Camden in utilising a mixture of in house and private architects design housing projects. Of their in house staff,one of the most prolific was Bertram Dinnage. Dinnage designed a variety of projects during his time at the borough including libraries (Wood Green,1978), health centres (Crouch End, 1984), housing (Chesnut Estate, 1971 & Pelham Court, 1979) and an education centre for the TUC (1983). Other architects who worked for the borough include Janina Chodakowska who designed a small estate of terraced houses and flats at Grovelands (1971) by the River Lea, and A.Maestranzi who designed the Suffolk Road Estate, a scheme of timber framed brick homes, with monopitch roofs.
Like Camden, Haringey brought in many young private architects to provide them with smaller housing schemes. Colquhoun and Miller, whose work for Camden we saw in Part 1, designed a number of projects, the most interesting of which is The Red House home for the elderly in Wood Green. Completed in 1976 in orange brick, the building is neatly fitted onto an awkward triangular site. The duo also designed Garton House (1980) a nine storey block for single people on Hornsey Lane, as well as a couple of minimalist community centres on the Chesunt and Suffolk Road estates. The firm of Douglas Stephen & Partners designed houses in Penrith Road & Appleby Close (1975) and a health centre in Bounds Green (1978). Ivor Smith (who helped design the Park Hill flats in Sheffield) and Cailey Hutton designed Morant Place (1975), two long ziggurats that face each other, just off Wood Green High Road. A couple of other interesting projects by outside architects are Colin St John Wilson & Partners low rise housing on Daleview Road (1974), and Lee, Quine and Miles’ housing for the elderly in Roseland Close and Larkspur Close (1973). Another project for the borough was landscape architects Mary Mitchell’s childrens playground created out of the ruins of Victorian industrial buildings on Markfield Road (1966). Mitchell’s playground is no longer there, but it is still a recreation park.
Enfield was formed from the municipal boroughs of Southgate, Enfield and Edmonton. It was in Edmonton’s architects department that the new borough found its first chief architect. T.A. Wilkinson. As chief architect of Edmonton, Wilkinson had experimented with the prefab building system, BRECAST, which was developed by Nares Craig at the Building Research Unit in Garston. Wilkinson used the system to build Angel House, Edmonton (1964) using Edmonton’s Direct Labour Organisation, a facet he would also use when in charge of Enfield. Wilkinson used the BRECAST system to built the Barbot Estate (1968), a scheme of 4 23 storey towers with chequerboard cladding. The estate was demolished in 2002, and replaced by low rise housing.
Plans had been drawn up by Frederick Gibberd for the redevelopment of the Edmonton Green area in 1960, incorporating shops, housing, car parking and a civic centre. After the 1965 reorganization these plans were curtailed, leaving Wilkinson's Leisure Centre the main focus of the area. A undecorated concrete box that housed a 25m pool, squash courts and a cafe, work begun in 1965 and was completed in 1972. The building has now been demolished and replaced by new leisure facilities. Another demolished building is Ordnance Road Library by N.C. Dowell. Built in 1976, the library was a dynamic composition in concrete, with upright concrete beams supporting a second floor that looked over the open plan ground floor. The building was demolished in 2012 to make way for a new health centre. One building that does survive is the Enfield Civic Centre on Silver Street, designed by Eric Broughton & Associates who also designed Harrow’s. The initial part of the design took place between 1957-61, with a long brick administration section in blue brick, with a projecting upper floor. The second phase is very different, consisting of 12 storey, stainless steel clad tower built adjacent to the first phase of the scheme.
Just as Harrow and Brent benefited from their inheritance from the progressive Middlesex County Council, so Barnet enjoyed the fruits of the post war Herts County Council school building programme. With a wealth of new, innovative schools in the area, the borough concentrated on housing. Their big project was the Grahame Park Estate. Built on part of Hendon Aerodrome, the scheme was designed to house 10,000 people in a mixture of public and private housing. The estate also includes a library, a church, a community centre and shops. The project was planned jointly between the boroughs architects department and the GLC’s. The estate was designed in a contemporary modernist manner, with six and seven storey concrete framed apartment blocks finished in dark brick. Construction began in 1969, and was completed by the end of the 1970’s. In 1989, the Borough undertook a remodelling and regeneration of the site. The austere buildings were softened by adding pitched roofs and red railings and window frames. The interconnecting walkways were also removed from between the blocks. The estate is currently being regenerated by the borough with new blocks being built and the old buildings being gradually demolished. Just to the east lies the lesser known Grahame Park West, also built by Barnet Borough and the GLC. This estate, now known as Willow Gardens, is a low rise scheme of houses and maisonettes in brick with wood cladding. Work on the site began in 1971, completing in 1975. Willow Gardens is not part of the Grahame Park regeneration plan.
Another housing development built by the borough was Strawberry Vale (1975), designed by the firm of Bickerdike Allen Bramble. The firm were presumably chosen as they are experts in environmental acoustics, and the site for this estate is right next to the North Circular. The finished design consists of a long curving barrier block of five storeys, protecting the estate from the noise of the traffic (much like the Alexandra Estate in Camden), with monopitch brick houses clustered in the centre. The other type of building Barnet had success in designing was libraries. B.Bancroft designed the L-shaped Hale Lane Library in 1961 as chief assistant at Hendon Borough, and when he became Barnet borough architect post-1965, he designed Burnt Oak Library in 1968. The two storey library was constructed around a concrete frame with narrow vertical windows and a glass pyramid roof light. The building was refurbished by Knott Architects in 2011.
Over the three parts of this series, we have seen the differing ways the new boroughs responded to their building needs. Camden, Hillingdon and Haringey introduced innovative methods and building types, using a variety of young in house and outside designers. Hounslow, Barnet and Enfield initially used system built large estates, but changed as the 1970’s started, using brutalist expressionism and brick, low rise buildings to vary their approach. Harrow and Brent largely stuck to the tried and tested highrise, prefab estates that form post war architecture in the popular imagination. The success or otherwise of these various approaches can perhaps be measured by whether the fruits of these approaches are still intact. In the first group, most of the buildings are still being used for their intended purpose, with many listed in Camden's case. In the second group some still survive, but even these are being redeveloped, and for the last group it seems there will be very little left soon to remember their work. In an age where council built housing of any stripe is rare, it is good to remember the different approaches employed by the boroughs, and their success and failures, in the post 1965 period.
The Buildings of England- London 4: North by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner
As I tweeted last week, this year I have been asked to host an Open House London tour. On Saturday 19th September I 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. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 tours require no booking, but are on a first come basis, up to a maximum of 25 people. 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.