Sunday 24 June, 2011
Hallfield Estate, Bayswater, London. The estate’s design was initiated by Tecton in 1947. Its construction was completed under the auspices of Denys Lasdun and Lindsay Drake in the early 1950s. The estate has recently been awarded Grade II listed status.
Inserted into an area otherwise gridded with grand (and generally bland) Georgian terraces, the Hallfield Estate is a shining example of the possibilities of public housing, if also of the essential need for sufficient maintenance and upkeep. It’s great that the estate is listed, like the Golden Lane Estate in Clerkenwell is, but policy needs to provide for housing estates’ future health and happiness regardless of the heritage factor.
That said, the estates’ success is clearly linked with the intelligence of its architecture. The views are radiantly Corbusian, with the blocks’ balconies bending out over wide and thriving throbs of greenery. The weird warping of said balconies presumably encourages those that use them to look out at odd angles other than simply straight ahead, and so – perhaps! – to inhabit the available space more imaginatively than someone tending to a regularly fenced-in tract of land.
The windows are full length in places, an appealing detail. In others, they are raised: though larger than those that pierce so many of today’s so-called luxury apartments, windows adjacent to front doors mostly begin at about scalp-level, lending privacy. There are also rubbish-chutes generously distributed, with separate chutes for recycling. The streets in the sky were generally sparkling when we visited.
In terms of amenities, the estate has an attached school, a residents’ association, and a health centre. The laundry building now houses the estate office; presumably more of the flats have washing machines today. There are no shops integrated into the design, but plenty located nearby.