Monday, September 24, 2012

Campden Hill Road, London

The white stuff

When I lived in Notting Hill I occasionally walked past this block of flats on Campden Hill Road. As one often does when passing half-familiar buildings in one's own neighbourhood, I noticed them, but did not look closely. "That modernist block of flats," I thought to myself. "How well they did things in the 1930s." After all, many of the features of 1920s and 1930s modernism were there: the white walls, the flat roof, the long balconies, the strip windows, and the modernist arrangement of balconies, windows and stepped-back corners on one side.

But this block was not built between the two world wars. It was actually put up in 1965, to designs by Douglas Stephen. In the mid-1960s, British architecture was developing in many different ways – the era gave us Brutalist multi-storey car parks, steel-framed houses, the disciplined poise of some of Denys Lasdun's work, the sculptural concrete of the Barbican. But very little quite like this, a throwback to another era: modernist revival, if you like, or the 1930s revisited, showing the influence not only of Le Corbusier's interwar villas but also of the Italian "rationalist" architects of the pre-war era (long shunned for their links with fascism). There's nothing fascist about this design though. Poised on its leafy corner of west London, it represents a way of building that has endured rather well.


worm said...

very nice, I love this sort of architecture, especially when, in the 1930's originals, it is combined with parquet flooring inside!

we have a (not quite so lovely, but nice all the same) block overlooking the park in Leamington Spa that is similar

I wish they made all modern flats white like this instead of those horrible red brick things with little windows

Peter Ashley said...

Ah, yes, well, Campden Hill Road. These flats I think passed me by, as I probably ran by them to the Windsor Castle, and slowly staggered by them on my way home.