Heritage campaigners have called for two post-war social housing estates in London to be given protected status – and hit out at the lack of recognition for similar schemes
The Twentieth Century Society urged ministers to list Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin’s 1966 Sivill House in Bethnal Green and Peter Tabori’s 1979 Highgate New Town.
The campaign group said it would support applications to have both schemes listed as it felt they were part of an undervalued pioneering movement.
‘The post-war years were an exciting time in architecture with important new ideas about living and space, making our society a richer and better place in which to live,’ said Grace Etherington, senior caseworker at The Twentieth Century Society.
‘London was at the forefront in its commitment to building high-quality social housing which encouraged a sense of community. Yet only a handful of these schemes which made an important contribution to 20th-century social policy are listed.’
Sivill House, a 19-storey housing block in east London, was designed by Douglas Carr Bailey, Francis Skinner and Berthold Lubetkin. The campaign group said it stood as an example of what the respected Lubetkin would achieve when freed from the constraints existing during his more prolific interwar years.
Lubetkin biographer John Allan has described Sivill House as ‘exceptional’ in its design, pointing to its proportions, plan and ‘crown’.
Meanwhile the Whittington Estate, also known as Highgate New Town, was designed by Hungarian immigrant Peter Tabori and executed by job architect Kenneth Adie.
London was at the forefront in its commitment to building high-quality social housing
A brutalist icon that regenerated a notorious Victorian district, it featured in TV drama series Bodyguard.
The Twentieth Century Society praised the estate’s ‘strong horizontal lines and vertical cross walls’. ‘The design allows for each flat or house to have its own private south-facing terrace or courtyard,’ noted the campaign body.
A previous listing application, also supported by C20, was turned down in 2006.
Etherington said: ‘C20 has felt very strongly for a number of years that a much larger collection of local authority housing schemes deserve recognition through listing, particularly as many have been published, studied and celebrated across the world.
’The fact that the residents of Highgate New Town and Sivill House have applied for listing is a clear indicator that these estates continue to serve their users well over 50 years since they were designed.’
Neave Brown’s Alexandra Road Estate in London was the first post-war housing estate to receive protection with its listing at Grade II* in 1993. This was followed by Grade II* listing for Ernő Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in 1998.