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Latitude: 51.4902 / 51°29'24"N
Longitude: -0.1333 / 0°7'59"W
OS Eastings: 529695
OS Northings: 178454
OS Grid: TQ296784
Mapcode National: GBR GM.7Z
Mapcode Global: VHGQZ.MTW0
Entry Name: Thorndike House Lillington Gardens Estate with Attached Walls and Steps
Listing Date: 20 December 2000
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1271207
English Heritage Legacy ID: 486939
Location: Westminster, London, SW1V
District: City of Westminster
Electoral Ward/Division: Tachbrook
Built-Up Area: City of Westminster
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London
Church of England Parish: St James the Less Pimlico
Church of England Diocese: London
TQ2978SE VAUXHALL BRIDGE ROAD
1900/110/10259 (Southwest side)
20-DEC-00 Thorndike House Lillington Gardens Est
ate with attached walls and steps
Block of 48 flats and maisonettes. 1969-72 by Darbourne and Darke for the City of Westminster. Red brick walls with concrete slab floors, exposed as painted bands, and roof. Roof clad in felt, with distinctive mansards of artificial slate and metal edges. Slabbed walkways and concrete and brick steps. Five and six storeys. Complex scissor-plan blocks, with maisonettes to front and back behind walled gardens, those to the rear set lower with extra kitchen and dining room; living rooms to all units face the street, and all have bedrooms on the garden elevations. Those with the entrance on the garden elevation (nos. 10-18) have projecting garden rooms of glass and grey metal panels, with entrance door tucked into side return. Above them one bedroom and studio flats set off roof-top streets in the sky' (nos.19-48), some reached via external stairs, the larger units on two levels to garden front and with internal stairs. Brick stairs at southern end, a long straight flight, are particularly impressive. All windows are grey metal sashes, most flats have black stained timber doors, some with glazed panels. Interiors not inspected.
John Darbourne won a competition for the rebuilding of Lillington Street in 1961, and formed a partnership with Geoffrey Darke to develop the scheme. The design of Lillington took its cue from the important (grade I listed) Church of St James the Less, with its striking Victorian red brick, which the estate surrounds. The first phases of Lillington pioneered low-rise high-density solutions for public housing; Darbourne rejected the symmetrical, free-standing block in favour of a more contextual iconography in which each resident would have a distinctive element with which the tenants could associate themselves. The development was successful and award winning from the first, and was widely imitated.
For the third phase, Lillington 3, however, the architects revised their original designs to introduce more maisonettes for families with their own front door. In the revised scheme nearly half the units have a front door and small garden at ground level, and there is more private than public open space. Stylistically, too, there is a difference, as here was first introduced the slate mansards that were such a feature of their later Marquess Estate at Islington. As the Architects' Journal for 1 October 1969 recognised, the revised plans allowed for this considerable family accommodation at densities of 255 persons per acre. The Times for 13 September 1972 considered it `an elegant and exciting environment for young and old.' Lillington 3 perhaps spawned even more imitations than the original scheme, not least by Darbourne and Darke themselves. `Darbourne and Darke have pioneered a new view of living in the public housing sector. It could be argued that what they have done is to middle-classify the council house, but there is more to their achievement than that. Their approach should be seen as an expression of the idea that the egalitarian society is more easily realised by building on the "middle class" than it is by building on the old notion of the "working class"', wrote Colin Amery and Lance Wright in 1978. Lillington 3 won an RIBA Commendation in 1973.
Architects' Journal, 1 October 1969, pp.806-9
The Times, 13 September 1972
Amery and Wright, The Architecture of Darbourne and Darke, 1978
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