Hackney has a fascinating history of modernist architecture dating back to the rebuilding of Britain after the Second World War. During this time architects were tasked with building public properties including schools, hospitals, and transport centres. Many of these buildings still stand today as are some of the focal points of this design era.
None of these buildings are residential but they all encapsulate a little essence of scenario architecture: to design a space for the way in which we live and work rather than beginning with the form and material. Spaces work best when form truly does follow function.
1/ Haggerston School for Girls
2/ Hunt Partners Factory, Clapton
3/ Clissold Park School (now Stoke Newington School)
4/ Homerton Fire Station & Shoreditch Fire Station
5/ Ash Grove Bus Station
Haggerston School for Girls
> Date Built: 1964
> Architect: Erno Goldfinger
Haggerston School is a Grade II listed building that was built back in 1964 by the celebrated modernist architect Erno Goldfinger. Previously known as Haggerston School for Girls, in 2010 it was renamed to simply Haggerston School to celebrate the changing of the school to co-educational. It is in fact, the only English secondary school to have been designed by such a celebrated modernist architect as Goldfinger.
One of the most distinctive features of this building is the double-height circulation spine with a balcony which perfectly shows the talent of Goldfinger. You will find this building on Weymouth Terrace which also comprises of a School House designed by Goldfinger. The School House also has a Grade II listing as it shows off the intricate use of difficult materials that have been refined to create such a wonderful building.
Hunt Partners Factory, Clapton
> Date Built: 1939
> Architect: Owen Williams
Designed by Owen Williams, the Hunt Partners Factory in Clapton was built in 1939. The factory was originally owned by the Hunt Partners. They manufactured cartons as well as packaging. Currently, the factory is locally referred to as De Havilland. This is related to the fact that it was used as an aircraft factory throughout the second world war and is adorned with the lettering De Havilland.
The original factory is located on Theydon Road and just a short distance from Gwynne House. The architect, Sir Evan Owen Williams was also responsible for a variety of iconic inter-war period buildings. This includes the original Empire Pool at Wembley and various buildings that were part of the British Empire exhibition in 1924. Unfortunately, many of these buildings have now been lost.
Today, the factory is a residential property with a few business units. The property has been well maintained although the original windows have been replaced. Of particular note is the glazed staircase which can be viewed from the Theydon Road entrance. Unfortunately, some of the most classic features of the property are now obscured by mailboxes but it is still a beautiful piece of architecture.
Williams himself had a humble beginning and was born in Tottenham. His parents were Welsh and they left their farm to begin a grocer shop in Europe. Their son would go on to accomplish marvels, some of which still stand today.
Clissold Park School (now Stoke Newington School)
> Date Built: 1967-70
> Architect: Stillman and Eastwick-Field
This school building was designed through 1967-70 by Stillman and Eastwick-Field with a Brutalist style. The couple met in 1937 and set up an architectural practice together in 1949. Through the ’60s, they were recruited to build housing, education and health building programs for the public which included this school. It stands today as a beautiful reminder of the rebuilding of Britain after the war.
The property has an impressive level of detail and is designed with textured brick and concrete. The most notable part of the design is the transparent boiler room. Part of the boiler house, the fully glazed pitched roof provided a stunning view of the plant machinery. This is complemented by the rectangular brick chimney. The full boiler house has a triple height concrete frame which makes it all the more impressive.
In 2009, the property was refurbished by Jestico & Whiles. This was part of the government campaign of ‘Building Schools for the future.’ They maintained the original design of the building but added Corten steel panels to provide balance to the bush-hammered concrete and original brickwork. At the same time, the renovations have ensured that the building provides more space and increased facilities. One of the key noticeable differences to the exterior is the entrance block which has been clad in Corten steel previous mentioned. This is to protect the property from the elements and ensure a higher level of durability.
Homerton Fire Station & Shoreditch Fire Station
> Date Built: 1972
> Architect: GLC Special Works department
Homerton Fire Station was built in 1972 by the GLC Special Works department. It is located on Homerton High Street and is known for its beautiful design and large red doors. The contrast used of light bricks with dark window frames and side doors really makes the building stand out to passers-by. The concrete blockwork used wonderfully demonstrates the beauty of simplicity. The GLC Special Works Department trained some of the most talented British architects of the 20th Century including the likes of John Partridge and Oliver Cox.
Shoreditch Fire Station was built in 1965 on Old Street in Hackney.. This project was completed by the LCC Architects department which was later replaced by the GLC Special Works Department who was responsible for the completion of Homerton Fire Station several years later. This project was led by architect G. Horsfall who combined an exposed concrete frame with a shutter-boarded concrete finish. The property also boasts cantilevered windows which can be seen from all angles of the building.
Ash Grove Bus Station
> Date Built: 1980s
> Architect: B. Aldridge and K. Makinson
Ash Grove Bus Station was built as one of the new garages for London Transport through the 1980s. The property has a roof space which covers 54 metres and stunning tinted glass staffroom. The architects on the property were B. Aldridge and K. Makinson. It was one of the three garages built for a budget of £3.5 million. The roof of the building is particularly significant as it was carried by a total of ten triangular trusses that weighed 35-tonnes. These are believed to be the largest in the UK and needed to be supported with reinforced concrete columns.
The garage is able to house 140 buses undercover as well as 30 in the yard. The garage closed in 1991 due to London Forest shutting down but by 1994 was reopened by Kentish Bus. It has also been used to house vehicles for the London Transport Museum. After shutting down once more it was reopened in 2000 and used by East Thames Buses.
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