|Excalibur Estate, Catford; Park Hill, Sheffield (x2)|
Sunday, 2 March 2014
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Sunday, 16 February 2014
Monday, 28 October 2013
Please excuse my iPhone photos.
I've wanted to visit Alexandra Road for absolutely ages. It's one of those excellent examples of a 1960s estate that just works and also looks pretty awesome. It's grade II* listed.
The estate, known colloquially as Rowley Way, was designed by Neave Brown for Camden Council's architects' department in 1968. It was generally a golden era for council housing in the borough and Brown also designed Fleet Road (where he now lives). Here he is talking about what architecture is, filmed at Alexandra Road.
I went along to visit on the Open House weekend. It was pretty busy and these people milling around were waiting to go see one of the flats that was open.
I was with my friend and her new brand new baby Alice, and unfortunately the flat was up some steep steps, so we gave that a miss.
Alexandra Road is essentially three blocks running parallel to each other alongside one of the main railway lines out of London. The western most block forms an eight storey barrier, backing onto the train tracks.
|Photo: Jamie Barras|
We eventually found a working lift to take us up to the walkway on the seventh floor. I say working because one of the residents who got the lift with us complained that they "hardly ever work" - she'd been living there since it first opened.
The estate has a very active resident's association - there's yoga classes, film nights and they even have their own beehives and make honey! The group is also campaigning against High Speed 2 (the proposed new railway connecting Euston and Birmingham in the first instance), which would see three tunnels running underneath the estate plus a vent installed on the site where the shops and flats at the Loudon Road entrance are.
Further up the estate is its park, which recently got £1.5 million of Heritage Lottery Funding to help make it prettier.
I liked seeing all the different frontages to the flats.
It's definitely worth going to see the flats if you can (maybe next year at Open House!). Here is a peek inside some (taken from here).
Ainsworth Way is just next door.
Sunday, 29 September 2013
This is a guest post by Elizabeth Hopkirk, a friend and colleague at Building Design. She visited the World's End Estate as part of the 2013 Open House London weekend.
The building of the World's End Estate in Chelsea is the story of a struggle.
It was masterplanned in 1963 by Eric Lyons on 11 acres of Victorian terraces that stood between the western end of the Kings Road and the Thames.
With the support of his client, the local authority, Lyons came up with a design that fitted 747 one- to four-bedroom homes on the site.
But this exceeded the population density deemed acceptable by the London County Council so the whole project went to a public inquiry.
Lyons and the council eventually won in December 1966 and work to clear the site began in 1968.
But the first residents did not move in until 1975 and the estate was finally completed in 1977, partly because the workers went on strike when they discovered sub-contractors were being paid less.
We were taken on a tour during Open House weekend by two guides who between them clocked up more than 70 years on the estate.
They told us that many of the original residents are still there so World's End has a largely ageing population. Of 3,500 residents, only 300 are children.
It is still owned by the council, though run by an arms-length body. Of the 747 flats, 550 are still inhabited by council tenants, 110 are owner-occupied and the rest are sub-let.
The estate is made from concrete clad in red bricks, as you can see. We were told it was all made on site. Sadly the council wouldn't let us into any of the empty flats so my pictures are all external.
There are seven faceted towers of different heights which stand at the corners of an angular figure-of-eight loop of lower-rise “walkway blocks”. The loops enclose two internal gardens at first-floor level – planted on the roof of the car park below.
Many people have also customised their balconies and there is a community garden tended by residents on the river side.
|The view towards central London|
The north side, facing Kings Road, has a theatre (originally a community centre), police station, church, shops, a primary school and a “piazza”.
|The piazza with shops and a church and police station to the right|
Turner and Whistler lived and painted here. One of Lyons' towers is named after Whistler and another after his ferryman and protege Walter Greaves. Later the area drew hippies, models and rock stars. It feels a lot more ordinary now.
This is my favourite tower, Dartrey, with the ever-so-slender
chimney attached by little more than a couple of straws. To me it is the
missing link between the two-piece Trellick Tower and the crenellated Barbican.
The towers' prominence in a low-rise neighbourhood is mitigated by their varying heights and the horizontal blocks that absorb the bottom few storeys.
The entire estate is essentially one building and once you're in you can get everywhere. But the serpentine design means you never feel you are pounding some endless corridor. There used to be more entrances but now the only doors are at the feet of the towers.
Despite much that is uniform, Lyons managed to design in variety and surprises. Corridors vary in width. There are sudden views of the river, trees or other parts of the estate. And, although the bricks must be factory-made, they've been laid in geometric patterns and help break up the vast scale of the buildings. They also echo the beautiful dark brick chimneys of the neighbouring Lots Road Power Station (sadly soon to be crowded by new towers of luxury flats).
World's End feels to me more visually stimulating than the
Mies rip-offs and point blocks that make up so much post-war council housing.
See what you think.
|The Lots Road power station chimneys|
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
|Keeling House, James O.Davies/English Heritage|
Keeling House by Denys Lasdun makes up a part of the display, as does the Trellick Tower, Bevin Court and Alexandra Road.
As well as photographs, commissioned by English Heritage from photographer James Davies, there are a series of models on display including one of Richard Rogers' Lloyd's building.
It's well worth a visit, alone for the thrill of being inside Wellington Arch itself.
The exhibition is open Wednesday to Sunday until 24 November, 2013.
|Alexandra Road, James O.Davies/English Heritage|
|Bevin Court staircase detail, James O.Davies/English Heritage|
|Trellick Tower, James O.Davies/English Heritage|
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Regular readers of LLCH may have seen the competition I ran as part of the Open House London weekend to win a guided tour of the Trellick Tower. Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who entered - I wish I could have taken all of you with me!
It's so exciting to see inside buildings you're curious about. Among our tour was a woman whose father had worked as a brick layer on the construction of the tower, as well as some tall buildings enthusiasts and then some plain old nosy people - like me.
So as a kind of follow on to my self-guided tour around the Trellick Tower, here is a guided tour on the interior.
The front door, still complete with Open House signs. Beyond is a small entrance hall, with the concierge and lifts through another door.
And then there's the gloriously colourful ground floor light installation.
Then it was up in one of the three lifts (they're big!), to the 18th floor. Our tour guide explained the lifts go every third floor, and each landing is colour coded. In this case, a retro yellow.
Look how long the corridors are...
First we went into a one-bedroom flat. Here's a typical floorplan.
And a sneak peek of the kitchen.
The opaque window faces out on to the communal corridor (not see-through so you can make your toast naked, we were told!).
Here's the view from the balcony. Not bad, right?
Then we went further up to a three/four bedroom flat. I can't find a floorplan for it, but if you're looking at the front of the block you come in on the level where you can see the squares running across the balcony (the 24th floor if I've counted right).
Just look at this awesome balcony.
There was an equally enormous kitchen beyond those sliding doors, a bathroom, corridor and another room. Then it was down some stairs to four more rooms.
That was it, it was time to go home. Back outside the tower to gaze up at its imposing form, but with a little knowledge of the life inside.
I've tried to keep these photos a bit anonymous - they are after all people's homes, who might not want their lives splashed all over this blog.
Finally, a big thank you to Ben Braithwaite who led our special LLCH readers' tour on what turned out to be a super busy Sunday at the tower for Open House.