Open House London 2019 is approaching, taking place on 21st and 22nd September. There are hundreds of places to visit, covering 33 London Boroughs. As ever, there are plenty of art deco, modernist and brutalist buildings to explore. Usually in our roundup we list all the buildings we think are worth seeing. This time we thought we would take a more in depth look at 5 buildings we think are worth your time.
Furthest out from Central London is maybe the pick of the bunch. 64 Heath Drive, Gidea Park is a white walled modernist house, designed by Francis Skinner of Tecton. It was built as part of the 1934 Gidea Park Modern Homes Exhibition, which aimed to showcase the best of contemporary house design.The house is constructed of reinforced concrete and set in an 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. It is open Saturday and Sunday from 2.30-5pm for guided tours of the whole house (12 people max at a time) See the Open House page HERE.
Of the same style and era is Pullman Court in Streatham. An international style modernist block of flats, designed by Frederick Gibberd and completed in 1936. The estate consists of 9 blocks of varying heights containing 218 flats. Like Heath Close, Pullman Court is firmly modernist, with white walls, flat roofs and metal railed balconies. Internally the flats were up to date, including central heating and hot water, and had fitted furnishings such as wireless radio cabinets and electric fires. Pullman Court is open on Sunday from 10am-5pm. More information HERE.
Also built in the 1930’s, but very different from the modernist Heath Drive and Pullman Court is the former Tooting Granada Cinema. The art deco exterior of the building was designed by Cecil Massey, who designed many cinemas fro the Granda chain in the interwar years. The interior was designed by Theodore Komisarjevsky, a Russian emigre who specialized in interior design as well as being a theatrical director. The interior is designed in a medieval style, using wood, brick, masonry, mirrors and tiling to create a spectacular experience. As Ian Nairn said in Nairn’s London, “Miss the Tower of London if you have to, but don't miss this”. The former cinema is open on Sunday from 9am-12 noon, with a Guided building tour at 9.15am. Full details can be seen HERE.
Moving into the post war era is the Central Hill Estate in Dulwich. Built between 1967 and 1974, the estate is part of the great work of Lambeth Borough Architects Department under Ted Hollamby. The lead architect was Rosemary Stjernstedt, who filled the same role on the Alton estate in Roehampton for London County Council. Here the estate has 374 homes in a mixture of terraced housing and apartments, all arranged on the steep slopes of the hill. The estate has been rejected for listing and the current Lambeth council plan to demolish the estate, so see it while you can! On Sunday there will be resident-led tours between 11am-4pm, and a talk by residents at 2pm. The event page is HERE.
Over in West London is an opportunity to visit the brutalist Embassy of Slovakia in Notting Hill. Built as an embassy for Czechoslovakia in 1970, it was designed by the trio of Jan Bocan, Jan Sramek and Karel Stepansky, alongside Robert Matthew of RMJM. It is constructed of a mixture of prefabricated and in situ concrete sections in what Pevsner called “a snub to classical good manners”. Usually you get told off for trying to take a picture of the embassy, so this is a great opportunity to see it and take photos. The building is open to visit on Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm, as well as hosting the Velvet Generation exhibition, featuring contemporary Slovak design to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Read more HERE.
Of course we will also be hosting our own event for Open House, as our Stanmore art deco and modernist house walking tour enters its fifth year! We will be exploring the houses of the Warren estate and seeing how the expansion of the suburbs in the first part of the 20th century allowed the new styles of art deco and modernism to find their way into British architecture. There will be two tours on Saturday at 10am and 2pm, meeting opposite Stanmore tube station. All the details are HERE. We hope to see you there! Of course there are plenty of other buildings and tours that may interest you over Open House London weekend. You can check out all the buildings on the website HERE.