81, SWAINS LANE
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Statutory Address:
- 81, SWAINS LANE
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- Statutory Address:
- 81, SWAINS LANE
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- Camden (London Borough)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 28545 86925
Reasons for Designation
No. 81 Swain's Lane, built to the designs of John Winter 1967-69, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * It is one of the best-known and most influential modern steel houses in England designed by the distinguished post-war architect, John Winter, noted for the pioneering use of Cor-Ten steel for domestic construction; * The design has considerable elegance and a close relationship with the landscape and monuments of Highgate Cemetery.
798-1/0/10254 SWAIN'S LANE 10-AUG-09 81
II* Private house. 1967-9 by architect John Winter for himself and his family. Structural engineer: Herbert Heller. It is built on the garden of the former superintendent's house, Highgate Cemetery. MATERIALS: The house is steel framed, in what Winter describes as the 'skin' variety, the frame internal to reduce problems of cold and damp, and separated from the external welded Cor-Ten cladding by a layer of insulation. This was the first domestic use in the UK of Cor-Ten, a weathering carbon steel, pioneered in the United States, with a proportion of manganese and vanadium which rusts to provide a protective layer of a consistent rich brown colour. External walls are entirely glazed, in double-glazed units with narrow full-height pivoting opening lights on the upper floors, and sliding units on the ground floor. Angled quarry tiles forming a plinth at the foot of the house enable rust stained water to run off. Floor slabs are concrete containing under-floor heating, and internal partitions are of concrete block. The flat roof is well insulated with wood wool and polystyrene topped with glass-fibre felt and chippings.
PLAN: This three-storey detached house makes the most of a tight site. It has a rectangular grid plan with modules of 8ft by 12ft by 20ft. The second, top floor is an open-plan 'quiet' living-space and study with a central stair/fireplace island. The first floor contains bedrooms and bathroom cells, with doors from the landing set at a 45 degree angle. The main bedroom and dressing room fill the north third of the first floor. The ground floor is entered from the street through the south-east corner, with a bathroom, stair and guest bedroom to the left. An open-plan family kitchen/dining/playroom occupies two thirds of the floor space, and opens directly on to the garden. A central service core and chimney runs through the house.
ELEVATIONS: Elevational treatment is the same on all sides. Facades are completely glazed between steel elements, with the grid clearly expressed. Overhangs are eliminated to allow the Cor-Ten to rust effectively and consistently. INTERIOR: Ceilings and blockwork walls are rendered throughout. Floors are quarry tiled downstairs, carpeted on the upper floors. On the top floor, the white-painted inner steel frame, concealed elsewhere in the house, is revealed. The study side of the upper floor space has a long built-in desk along the stairwell. Bedrooms have built-in benches, bookcases and cupboards. On the ground floor fitted units divide the kitchen and living areas.
The single-storey, early C21 extension to the house is not of special interest.
HISTORY: John Winter is a key post-war architect of the Modern school. After studying at Yale, he worked with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and with Charles and Ray Eames in San Francisco, and with Ernö Goldfinger in London. Small private houses have been an important element of his work: Winter had already built a small house for himself in Camden in the early 1960s, and his first steel house was built in Wentworth in 1963. No. 81 Swain's Lane was seen as an important marker in the history of the steel house in Britain, and one where the steel frame is handled successfully for this climate (see Neil Jackson, The Modern Steel House 1996). This is a highly influential and unusual house in its structure, materials, plan and aesthetic. It is still a model for minimal housing, as influential today as it was when it was built.
SOURCES: Architectural Design, August 1970, pp. 420-421. Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, August-September 1972, pp. 26-29. Architects' Journal, August 26 1970, pp. 465-469. Architects' Journal, October 28 1970, pp. 1023-1024. Acier, Stahl, Steel, no 10, 1971, pp. 390-393. Architects' Journal, October 25 1972, pp. 968-969. Architects' Journal, November 22 1972, pp. 1197-1198. House and Garden, July-August 1971, pp. 66-69. Elain Harwood, England: a Guide to Post-War Listed Buildings, English Heritage, Batsford, (2003). June Park Houses for Today, Batsford, London, (1971). Miranda Newton, Architects' London Houses, Oxford, Butterworth Architecture, (1992), pp. 72-75. Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, Buildings of England, London 4: North, Penguin, (1998), p. 416. Neil Jackson, The Modern Steel House, London, E & FN Spon, (1996), pp. 137-41
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: No. 81 Swain's Lane, built to the designs of John Winter 1967-69, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * It is one of the best-known and most influential modern steel houses in England designed by the distinguished post-war architect, John Winter, noted for the pioneering use of Cor-Ten steel for domestic construction; * The design has considerable elegance and a close relationship with the landscape and monuments of Highgate Cemetery.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Cherry, B, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: London 4, North, (1998 revised 2001), 416
Harwood, E, England A Guide to Post War Listed Buildings, (2003)
Jackson, N, The Modern Steel House, (1996), 137-141
Newton, M, Architects' London Houses, (1992), 72-75
Park, J, Houses for Today, (1971)
'House and Garden' in July-August, (1971), 66-69
'Architectural Design' in August, (1970), 420-421
'Acier, Stahl, Steel' in Acier, Stahl, Steel - 10, (1971), 390-393
'Architecture d Aujourd hui' in August-September, (1972), 26-29
'Architects Journal' in 25 October, (1972), 968-969
'Architects Journal' in 22 November, (1972), 1197-1198
'Architects Journal' in 28 October, (1970), 1023-1024
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing