Housing estate (fourteen residential blocks, as in address above, and laundry), designed by Tecton in 1947 for the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington
Reasons for Designation
The fourteen blocks and laundry at Hallfield Estate are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a sophisticated and distinctive aesthetic approach to social housing, whereby the facades are treated like works of abstract art;
* Planning: the estate fulfilled its brief to provide mass housing and open space in a crowded urban borough, in a plan inspired by Le Corbusier's 'Radiant City'
* Authorship: designed by Berthold Lubetkin and Tecton, and constructed under the supervision of Lindsay Drake and Denys Lasdun, the estate is the work of some of the C20's most significant architects;
* Historic interest: a seminal post-war housing estate that was widely exhibited and published, and provoked divergent contemporary responses which illuminate post-war architectural theory.
* Group value: with Hallfield School (qv)
Lindsay Drake and Denys Lasdun supervised construction after Tecton, which designed the estate in 1947, was dissolved in 1948. Principal features that had been determined under Lubetkin, such as the treatment of the façades, remained unchanged, but Drake and Lasdun were responsible for detailed design and execution. The additional embellishment of using alternating bands of brickwork colour on Lubetkin's chequered south elevations for the ten-storey blocks, for example, was Lasdun's idea.
The scheme covered 17 acres, providing housing for 2,362 people in six 10-storey blocks and eight 6-storey blocks. Hallfield, along with Churchill Gardens in Pimlico, was one of the largest and most ambitious housing schemes built in the capital in the immediate post-war years. The estate was planned to include communal amenities such as garages, shops, laundries, clubroom, a public house, nursery school and primary school. A 'forum' was proposed at the heart of the estate, accommodating these facilities in a group of small buildings, and the school was to be at its southern edge, and used by children from outside the estate too. The 'forum' was built in 1960, but took the form of more conventional two-storey building containing sheltered housing, a laundry, estate office, shops, and a health centre; it is known as Pickering House. The round laundry at the site's north-eastern corner was built as planned, as was the primary school which opened in 1954. The nursery school, planned to go between Clovelly and Worcester Houses, was not. The housing blocks were completed in phases with the first contract running from 1949 to 1953, the second from 1953 to 1955. The residential blocks were named after towns with stations on the Great Western Railway line from Paddington. The 10-storey blocks are Caernarvon and Exeter (Phase I) and Winchester, Marlow, Pembroke and Reading (Phase II). The 6-storey blocks are Bridgewater, Clovelly, Worcester, Tenby (Phase I) and Brecon, Newbury, Lynton and Taunton (Phase II).
Hallfield School (qv), which stands to the south-west of the estate, was built 1953-4 by the London County Council to the design of Drake and Lasdun.
Tecton, headed by Berthold Lubetkin, was formed in 1932 and made its name with buildings at London Zoo and the avant-garde private housing block in North London, Highpoint I. After the Second World War, the practice applied its innovative techniques, developed at Highpoint, to public housing on a much larger scale. The results were estates at Spa Green (1946-50, Grade II*), Bevin Court (1949-54, Grade II*) and Priory Green (1946-57) in Islington. The Hallfield Estate was the firm's last commission and its largest housing project. It was inspired by Le Corbusier's 'Radiant City', a utopian vision of an urban landscape comprising high density housing blocks set in open parkland and gardens.
Housing estate (fourteen residential blocks, as detailed above, and laundry), designed by Tecton in 1947 for the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington. Built 1949-1955 under the supervision of Tecton architects Lindsay Drake and Denys Lasdun. Minor later alterations.
Pickering House, located in the centre of the estate, constructed in 1960, is not of special interest and is not included in the listing.
PLANNING: The Hallfield Estate comprises fourteen residential blocks, a laundry, Hallfield School (listed Grade II*), and Pickering House (which provides sheltered housing and a health centre). The estate is on lower ground than neighbouring streets and the housing blocks are placed at 45 degrees to the prevailing street plan, making for a strong contrast with the stuccoed Victorian townhouses which characterise the area. The planning within the estate itself is formal: the tall blocks are on an east-west axis, the smaller blocks aligned north-south, and these are grouped around lawns dotted with mature trees, the latter retained as part of the new scheme.
MATERIALS: The residential blocks each have a reinforced concrete frame with load-bearing cross walls, and non-load-bearing brick infill panels. An attic pavilion in the centre of each block, with a faceted front, contains the lift machinery and cold water tanks; in Caernarvon and Reading Houses this is a wider structure to provide additional water storage. The original doors on the estate were flush timber doors with a rectangular fanlight, painted maroon; these survive in part. The original windows were in steel, single glazed and finished in dark grey with white frames internally and grey surrounds; again, survival across the estate is partial.
All six 10-STOREY BLOCKS were designed in an identical manner, with the principal façade facing north. A pair of angular, dog-leg stairs, supported on piers of Staffordshire blue bricks, provides access to a first-floor gallery. From here, a central pair of lifts and a stairwell, and stairwells at each end of the block, lead to long cantilevering reinforced concrete access balconies on each floor, running the length of the façade. The balconies are balustraded with a solid screen of precast concrete panels, in an exposed aggregate of grey and white Cornish granite. The balustrade appears to 'float' from the façade. At alternating points at each floor, the balconies are linked vertically by concrete facing, thus the visual effect of long horizontal balconies is neutralised. This is further aided by the three vertical 'accents' formed by the central and end stairwell sections, which project slightly from the balconies. These are also faced in concrete panels, but finished with cream tiles arranged in 6-by-5 tile squares, divided by dark cement bands. The illusion that the concrete and tile balustrade screen is detached from the structure is enhanced by the black paint on the railings between the projecting sections. The facade is squared off at the top corners by a frame of cream ceramic tiles, also divided by dark cement bands into 6-by-5 tile squares. The top floor balcony sits under a projecting canopy, which Rayner Banham observed 'serves much the same function as the cresting of a Baroque picture frame', i.e. emphasises the symmetrical, axial nature of the composition, and of the estate's planning too. The front walls of the flats, set back behind the balustrade screen, are in a brown concrete brick.
The return end walls of the 10-storey blocks are faced with cream ceramic tiles in the same arrangement. The reverse facades of the blocks, facing south, are arranged in a chequered pattern of windows and alternating red concrete brick and blue engineering brick panels, also squared off at the top corners by cream tiles. The windows are floor-to-ceiling high with opaque glass in the lower panels, a later economy replacing the planned diamond-patterned metal grilles. The four corners of the blocks are supported on tapering fluted columns of poured and shuttered concrete. Pembroke and Reading Houses have slightly different detailing, lacking the small cream tiles.
The eight 6-STOREY BLOCKS are also identical. They are accessed at ground floor level and have a central lift and open staircases at each end. The area to either side of the lift was originally open, providing access to pram stores, but has since been enclosed on some blocks. The ground floor is set back, creating an overhang, with the end walls supported on piloti. The end walls and columns on the access balconies are clad with precast panels with a Portland stone surface finish. Between the columns, the balustrade panels are of dark concrete brick, added c1985. These replaced the original perforated precast stone balustrade in a honeycomb pattern, which had deteriorated. Two Phase II blocks were originally constructed thus, due to economies made during construction, and are unaltered. The walls behind the access galleries and to the east elevation are faced with red bricks. The east elevations have distinctive private concrete balconies on alternate floors, angular in form with a railed cut-out section and floor-to-ceiling French doors; they originally had pale blue painted soffits.
INTERIORS: Each block contains a mixture of flats ranging from one to three bedrooms. Inside, each flat was originally heated by skirting-board convector heaters. The rooms were fitted out with timber doors and architraves, lino floors, tiled window sills, and the kitchens had timber fitted cupboards. It is not known how many survive across the estate, although some were observed on the site visit (July 2010).
LAUNDRY: now the estate office, located in the north-eastern corner of the estate. It is a single-storey, circular, reinforced concrete building faced with black brick. There are precast concrete louvres between the windows to what was originally the children's room and a concrete fascia, both with a Portland stone surface finish. The laundry has a circular skylight and a diminutive central glass dome, which originally top-lit the laundry area. A recessed porch, now glazed in, provided a pram park as well as a sheltered entrance to the building.