Kate Macintosh’s sheltered housing scheme at 269 Leigham Court in Streatham has been saved after being granted grade II-listing status
The rare 1960s sheltered housing was listed after being recommended by Historic England as a ‘particularly well-considered’ example of ‘cradle to grave’ care.
Designed between 1968 and 1973 the 44-flat complex is composed of staggered blocks arranged either side of a central walkway. The design and construction was an early experiment in modular construction and was one of a number of housing and welfare buildings designed by Lambeth during that time.
The report by Historic England noted that: ‘The scheme serves as an exemplary representative of housing for the elderly, a key tenet of the welfare state vision of ‘cradle to grave’ care, standing out for both its practical success and its particularly well-considered and sensitively designed quality of environment’.
The move by Historic England came after the body became aware of plans by Lambeth to sell the site for redevelopment last year. Elderly residents at Leigham Court launched a campaign in April 2014 against the ‘disposal’ of the community asset which had been earmarked to help fund the construction of a care home in another part of the borough.
Speaking about the listing Macintosh said: ‘I am of course delighted at the listing, not just because it is an affirmation of my design, but because it removes a heavy load of anxiety from the residents, over whom it has been hanging for at least 2 years.
‘Leigham Court is just one of 6 schemes, some of which won awards when completed such as Central Hill, by Rosemary Stjernstedt, which Lambeth plan to demolish and sell off the land. I have heard that there is an unannounced reserve list beyond this one.
‘Residents who moved into these schemes, confident that they had a home for life, in a protected environment, rightly feel betrayed. I hope that this listing will spur them on to seek protection for designs which were amongst the best considered housing of their era, which should me carefully maintained and upgraded.’
‘This little-studied genre of housing was a key tenet of the post-war vision of a cradle to grave welfare state’ Posy Metz, Historic England
According to the report the scheme the scheme exploits the long narrow site, interspersing buildings with gardens, linked by a cloister-like covered way; the result is a layout which is rational but visually rich and spatially sophisticated. The blocks are linked by the covered walkway which runs through the site which is constructed of dark-stained timber and has a deep fascia clad in horizontal boarding, supported on square-sectioned uprights.
The walkway is paved in smooth-faced concrete slabs and along its length are several runs of lock-up stores with solid timber doors.
Posy Metz, Designation Adviser at Historic England, said: ‘We are delighted that the Minister shares our view that 269 Leigham Court Road is of national special interest. The scale and function of housing for the elderly offers less obvious scope for making dramatic architectural statements, but this little-studied genre of housing was a key tenet of the post-war vision of a cradle to grave welfare state.
‘269 Leigham Court Road has a stylish, stripped, architectural aesthetic, and sophisticated planning; it was designed with sympathy for the needs and lifestyle of its residents and was one of the first in the more humane wave of housing for the elderly which emerged in the 1970s: providing greater space, greater privacy, and greater independence to its residents. Its architect, Kate Macintosh, saw the opportunities that the brief offered, rather than the limitations, resulting in a highly creative housing scheme which stands alongside the most important examples nationally.’
The full report by Historic England can be found here.