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Latitude: 51.5284 / 51°31'42"N
Longitude: -0.1662 / 0°9'58"W
OS Eastings: 527308
OS Northings: 182648
OS Grid: TQ273826
Mapcode National: GBR 66.W8
Mapcode Global: VHGQS.2VJ6
Entry Name: 125, Park Road
Listing Date: 28 December 2001
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1389628
English Heritage Legacy ID: 488317
Location: Westminster, London, NW8
District: City of Westminster
Electoral Ward/Division: Regent's Park
Built-Up Area: City of Westminster
Traditional County: Middlesex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London
Church of England Parish: St Cyprian Clarence Gate
Church of England Diocese: London
TQ2782NW PARK ROAD
TQ2782NW PARK ROAD
Block of flats, with garden walls and planting boxes, for the Mercury Housing Society Ltd. Designed 1967, built 1968-70 by the Farrell/Grimshaw Partnership; Anthony Hunt structural engineer. In-situ reinforced concrete core and floors clad in corrugated anodised aluminium fixed to galvanised steel angle frame, itself bolted to a reinforced downstand beam. Aluminium windows, curved on corners, fixed by topseal stainless steel fasteners. Slightly pitched glazed roof with central flat plant room. Square plan with central service core providing structural stability and incorporating lifts, stairs and two pairs of bathrooms on opposite corners, with (as built) two one-bedroom and two two-bedroom flats per floor, with four duplex penthouse flats and caretaker's flat, making 41 in all on eleven floors. The building was designed to be as flexible as possible, with no structure between core and perimeter and continuous perimeter glazing to allow flexibility of division. The large core was designed so that services could be upgraded readily.
The interiors kept deliberately simple, to give the maximum space for the minimum money, within the Housing Corporation's yardstick of about £1,750 per dwelling. The floor was left as a simple concrete screed, without skirtings. Freestanding columns, continuous perimeter heating and regularly-spaced electrical sockets encourage maximum flexibility, with seven inch partitions of steel and fibre glass quilting. The architectural effect is of this minimalism is of a finely proportioned, architecturally sensitive sense of space.
The entrance to the block is set between brick planting boxes and low walls, which are an integral part of the scheme.
Mercury Housing Society Ltd was a co-ownership Society with one third of its finances secured from the Housing Corporation and two-thirds from a Building Society. Its members included Farrell and Grimshaw, together with friends and acquaintances. The stringent finances of the Housing Corporation determined their minimal approach, producing an envelope that was 'simple and repetitious', so that internally the flats could exceed the Parker Morris minima and be flexible to the needs of individual tenants. It was the first block of flats to be a true 'core' building; ie. with the entire perimeter as habitable rooms, and this and the small site suggested the entirely square plan, with its curved corners to give an added sensation of panoramic views by removing the need for corner mullions.
Terry Farrell (1938- ) and Nicholas Grimshaw (1939- ) met at the London County Council when working there briefly in 1961 and formed a partnership in 1965. The two worked in collaboration, and while the brief and plan were set out by Farrell, the cladding was developed with Grimshaw. Farrell had become aware of the work of Buckminster Fuller before his arrival in London in 1961, and Grimshaw developed an interest in lightweight steel cladding at the Architectural Association from 1962. No. 125 Park Road is in the vanguard of an alternative approach to flexibility, services and new technology, which was of fascination to both partners and which went on to become known as 'High-Tech', the British movement which has earned international renown. It was the pair's first major new building, combining the interest of a building type (the Housing Association flat) which was still novel with a minimal approach to architecture that manifested itself in simple, cheap finishes and crisp proportions.
Architectural Design, October 1970, pp.483-90
Architects' Journal, 20 January 1971, pp.130-3
Architectural Association Quarterly, vol.5, no.1, January/March 1973, pp.12-13
Architectural Design, February 1973, pp.93-4
Techniques e Architecture, April 1973, pp.50-1
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