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Latitude: 51.5291 / 51°31'44"N
Longitude: -0.1055 / 0°6'19"W
OS Eastings: 531516
OS Northings: 182828
OS Grid: TQ315828
Mapcode National: GBR N6.G1
Mapcode Global: VHGQT.4T3P
Plus Code: 9C3XGVHV+JR
Entry Name: Sadler House and Attached Porter's Lodge
Listing Date: 22 December 1998
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1246833
English Heritage Legacy ID: 471987
Location: Islington, London, EC1R
Electoral Ward/Division: Clerkenwell
Built-Up Area: Islington
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London
Church of England Parish: Clerkenwell St Mark
Church of England Diocese: London
TQ 3182 NE
ROSEBERY AVENUE (East side)
Sadler House and attached porters's lodge
Block of 33 flats, with attached porter's lodge. Designed in 1938 for Finsbury Metropolitan bv Lubetkin and Tecton, revised design built 1946-50; completed work published in the name of Skinner and Lubetkin. Ove Arup and Partners engineers.
Innovation reinforced concrete box frame, with expansion joints. The open egg crate structure enabled Lubetkin, assisted by C L P Franck, to devise an elaborately patterned exterior of brown brick with tiled ends and balcony fronts and dark red cast-iron railings and grilles. Red pointing and grouting a distinctive feature Flat roofs with skylight to each upper flat. Serpentine block of four storeys, eight flats per floor reached via rear staircase and access galleries; one porter's flat set below end pilotis of block. Kitchens, bathrooms and some bedrooms overlook gallery, the living room and principal bedrooms of equal frontage, the latter set behind balconies, set in pattern of alternate floors on Rosberry Avenue elevation. The result is a rich chequerboard pattern modelled in three dimensions and enforced by a serpentine plan. Metal windows with opening casements. Rear elevation with concrete access decks finished with cast-iron grilles and a central staircase with rounded projection in angle of block.
Interiors carefully designed and finished to a high standard. The fitted kitchens were 'a revelation for working class housing' (Coe and Reading) and are noted for their Garchey system of refuse disposal (the first in London and the only one anywhere still known to be in operation). The last served by a district heating set under Tunbridge House. The Spa Green Estate is the first and finest scheme of public housing by this celebrated firm, working for Finsbury M13 for whom they completed a pioneering health centre (q v Pine Street) in 1938. Lubetkin and Tecton were noted for their commitment to public building and had won a much publicised ideas competition for 'working class' flats in 1935 - yet had been frustrated in their ideas in the 1930s as their private Highpoint (q v Haringey) was so successful it went rapidly upmarket. Spa Green was designed before the war for a smaller site, but wartime bombing enabled the blocks to be better placed. The war also enabled Tecton to continue their investigative approach to architectural design and rational planning and it saw the development of Ove Arup's box frame or egg crate system which was to transform post-war building. By placing the structure in the side walls and doors the elevations were freed up for the patterning and texture that made Lubetkin's post-war work so distinctive. This frame structure also enabled Lubetkin here to explore his love of curves - the only block in which he adapted the frame to this effect. It forms a counterpoise at right angles to the larger, square blocks.
Spa Green is included at a high grade because the box frame was devised by Ove Arup especially for the development, though one small block was used earlier (q v Brett Manor, Hackney). It is the work in which Lubetkin at last expressed his ideas on low-cost public housing, simply but without the cost limits that constrained his later work. Every detail of the exterior and interior is carefully thought out and finely finished. It is the most important post-war development by the thoughtful and inventive pioneer of the modern movement in Britain. 'In this scheme the town planning, interest, the structural interest and the manipulation of structure and planning to arrive at an architectural totality of high quality epitomises the problem of high density housing as the architect sees it and offers one of the most interesting results yet obtained' (Sir John Summerson, 1959.
(Architectural Review: Volume 109: 1951 : 138-40; Peter Coe Social Commitment: Bristol: 1981 : 173-6; John Allan: Berthold Lubetkin, Architecture and the Tradition of Progress: London: 1992 : 377-405; Trevor Dannat (introduction by Sir John Summerson): Modern Architecture in Britain: London: 1959-: 24, 151-53).
Listing NGR: TQ3151682828
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