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No. 269 Leigham Court Road and associated patios, paved surfaces and walls

A Grade II Listed Building in Lambeth, Lambeth

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Latitude: 51.4298 / 51°25'47"N

Longitude: -0.1134 / 0°6'48"W

OS Eastings: 531252

OS Northings: 171778

OS Grid: TQ312717

Mapcode National: GBR GS.L3S

Mapcode Global: VHGRC.ZBF7

Plus Code: 9C3XCVHP+WM

Entry Name: No. 269 Leigham Court Road and associated patios, paved surfaces and walls

Listing Date: 29 May 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1420292

Location: Knight's Hill, Lambeth, London, SW16

County: Lambeth

Electoral Ward/Division: Knight's Hill

Built-Up Area: Lambeth

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Streatham St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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No. 269 Leigham Court Road, 1968 -1973, was designed as sheltered housing for older people by Kate Macintosh for the London Borough of Lambeth; it includes 44 flats, a common room, shop, laundry, guest room, and warden's flat and office contained in seven blocks, linked by a covered walkway; the site also has some hard landscaping features, such as low walls, patios and paving, to the front and within it. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the interiors of all individual flats, and the interiors of the shop, common room, guest room, laundry, warden's office, boiler room, and store rooms, are not of special architectural or historic interest. Also excluded is the later pipe-work (and fittings) which runs externally over the covered walkway.


No. 269 Leigham Court Road, 1968 -1973, was designed as sheltered accommodation for older people by Kate Macintosh for the London Borough of Lambeth; it includes 44 flats, a common room, shop, laundry, guest room and warden's flat and office, grouped into seven blocks linked by a covered walkway.

MATERIALS: the external walling is of fair-faced concrete block, with lightweight concrete blocks used for the inner leaf of cavity walls and some internal partitions. These blocks were comparable in price to brickwork, but chosen in part for their ready adaptability to metric planning. Macintosh also liked the focus which the regular surface gave on the sculptural form of the architecture. Windows and patio doors are dark-stained timber, and balcony balustrades are tubular steel. The roofs are felted.

PLAN: the site is a long, narrow, rectangle, approximately 140m by 37m. The long axis runs east to west, with the narrow road frontage facing west. There is a vehicular access to the north, which leads to a limited area of parking. The building line is set back from the pavement, giving space for planting beds which intersperse a flight of steps and a low-gradient ramp giving access to the scheme, which is slightly elevated. The hard landscaping to the front has been altered, with some elements replaced or added in yellow stock brick.

The scheme provides accommodation for up to 76 people and a warden, arranged as five identical, and two atypical, two-storey, flat-roofed, blocks. The five identical blocks each contain a total of eight flats: four two-person flats at ground floor, and two two-person flats and two one-person flats at first floor. To the front of the site are the two atypical blocks, one containing the common room, boiler room and warden's office at ground floor, with the warden's flat above, and the other containing the shop, guest room, laundry, and covered parking at ground floor, and four flats above (identical in arrangement to the other blocks).

The blocks stand in a staggered, and slightly irregular, arrangement to either side of a covered walkway which runs along the long east/west axis of the site. The spaces between the blocks are informal garden courtyards. It is not possible to see from one end of the covered walkway to the other, avoiding echoes of the institutional corridor, because the modelling and position of the residential blocks is such that they step into and out of the covered way, creating wider and narrower parts, set-backs and dog-legs. The layout and architecture of the scheme is not revealed from any one point, but unfolds gradually, with new views opening up at different points along the way. As a place for gentle, sheltered, exercise overlooking the gardens, the covered way has a cloister-like quality. Macintosh referred to it as being like 'a stream of water, with spaces for little eddies to occur off the stream…. Carving out places for people to sit and gossip'.

Each block of eight flats is entered either to the north or south, from the covered walkway. The flats principally face east and west across the garden courtyards. All have a private open space: a balcony for those on the first floor, a patio for those at ground floor; the majority of these face south, the remainder face to the east or west. Despite what seems on plan to be a simple layout, the experience of the site on moving through it reveals its sophistication; its careful management of views giving a distinct identity to each area, and the balance of open and enclosed space offering security and privacy.

EXTERIOR: the seven blocks which make up the scheme have a distinctly modernist aesthetic. They have a sculptural character, appearing as a series of cubes with sections taken out of the corners and sides to create setbacks for balconies, stairwells, patios, and apertures for windows and doors; there is no particular front or back to each block. The window openings vary in size, housing chunky stained timber windows of one, two, or three lights. The windows and patio doors are set in from the face of the walls, with a plain wide chamfer along the window sill courses. At ground floor the lintels are subtly expressed with the facing blocks being laid end-on; at first floor the window and door openings extend up to the top of the roof parapet, the space being filled with dark-stained horizontal timber boarding.

The blocks are linked by the covered walkway which runs through the site; this is constructed of dark-stained timber and has a deep fascia clad in horizontal boarding, supported on square-sectioned uprights. The walkway is paved in smooth-faced concrete slabs and along its length are several runs of lock-up stores with solid timber doors.

Above the walkway canopy, large diameter piping, associated with the boiler system, runs the length of the site; this is supported on various steel brackets attached to the buildings, and in one place, a steel 'table' has been built to straddle the walkway to support it. These are later additions and are not of special interest.

The scheme stands on a site which is largely level, but there are variations in some parts of the site, and here, garden borders and patios have low retaining walls of concrete block.

INTERIOR: each block of flats enters through into a communal hall. The walls are untreated fair-faced concrete block-work. Doors to the flats are arranged in pairs: one pair to the left and one to the right on ground and first floors. The doorways run from floor to ceiling and have rectangular fanlights. Ground-floor flats all have a flush threshold. The hall stairwell is lit by two pitched skylights, one over the stair, and one over a void in the first floor landing. The stair is cast concrete, with balustrades of three parallel hardwood handrails carried on white steel brackets. The first floor landing has a concrete block parapet wall around the top of the stairwell and void, these have inbuilt planting troughs, and are topped with a two-bar hardwood balustrade to match the stair.

At the west end of the site, where the communal facilities are located, the covered walkway becomes a hallway, enclosed by glazing. Doors into the various facilities are either solid flush-panel timber, or part-glazed.


No. 269 Leigham Court Road was designed and built between 1968 and 1973 as sheltered accommodation for older people by the London Borough of Lambeth. The architect was Kate Macintosh.

Catherine (Kate) Macintosh (1937- ) joined Lambeth's Architects' Department in 1968. The department was led by Lambeth's Director of Architecture and Planning, Edward (Ted) Hollamby (1921-99), a committed socialist and a talented architect and planner. Under Hollamby, Lambeth's architects produced a diverse stock of housing and welfare buildings, the borough now recognised as being second only to Camden nationally in the ambition and quality of its output. Provision for the elderly included a number of residential homes, houses and flats within its mixed residential schemes, and sheltered housing, of which Macintosh's No. 269 Leigham Court Road is the stand-out example.

Macintosh graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in 1961, then spent several years working in various architectural practices in Scandinavia before returning to London, working first for Denys Lasdun on the National Theatre, and then for the London Borough of Southwark, for whom she designed the residential scheme, Dawson's Heights, Dulwich, in 1965. Her first project for Lambeth was to design the scheme for Leigham Court Road. She was initially situated within the Research and Development section, to provide her with support in designing a scheme which was to be the first in the borough to use wholly metric dimensions, but once the job was on site she joined the group of borough architects working under Don Eastaugh. Macintosh left Lambeth in 1972 and worked briefly for Arup Associates, and then Ahrends, Burton and Koralek, before leaving London in 1974. During this period of local government reorganisation, county architects departments were being set up and Macintosh embarked on two decades of work designing municipal, educational and housing projects first for East Sussex and then for Hampshire. Macintosh set up private practice based in Winchester (Finch Macintosh Architects) in 1998 and retired in 2008.

The Leigham Court Road site was the former garden of a Victorian villa. Deep, with a narrow road frontage, it presented several design challenges. The shape of the site limited the opportunity for residents to overlook the everyday activities of society (it was feared this could lead to a sense of isolation), and situated in a quiet and leafy residential part of Streatham, there were no shops within easy walking distance. Macintosh resolved this by incorporating a shop at the front of the site, and placing the dual-aspect common room beside it. The shop, an unusual inclusion in such a small scheme, serves the residents and the wider community, offering an opportunity for social interaction; the positioning of the common room allows residents to observe the comings and goings of customers and passers-by. After its completion the scheme won a Department of the Environment Housing Commendation.

State-funded, purpose-built housing for older people is a predominantly post-war phenomenon, a feature of the 'cradle to grave' vision for the welfare state. With increasing life expectancy, and the social changes brought about by the Second World War, there was a recognition of the need for new approaches to the housing and care of older people. The charities Help The Aged and Age Concern (now together forming Age UK), were founded in 1961 and 1971 respectively, the latter originating from the government-funded Old People's Welfare Committee formed in 1940. Local authorities were responsible for the provision of suitable housing for the elderly, but the quality and type of accommodation they offered varied widely. Sheltered housing, with its roots in the almshouse tradition, emerged as a model in the 1950s, but space standards were not generous and features such as 'cupboard kitchens', and shared bathroom facilities, underline the modesty of earlier examples. The real turning point for quality and innovation in housing for older people took place from 1969. There was a will amongst the most progressive local authorities to provide a high quality of accommodation for older people, and in 1969 the Parker Morris space standards, which had up until that point been guidance only, became mandatory. No. 269 Leigham Court Road is an exemplar of this new wave of more humane housing for the elderly, placing no less weight on the quality of the environment which it provides, than on the practicalities of the function which it serves.

Reasons for Listing

No. 269 Leigham Court Road, a sheltered housing scheme for older people, designed 1968-70 by Kate Macintosh for Lambeth Borough Council, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
*          Building type: the scheme serves as an exemplary representative of housing for the elderly, a key tenet of the welfare state vision of 'cradle to grave' care, standing out for both its practical success and its particularly well-considered and sensitively designed quality of environment;
* Architectural interest: the crisp, grey, blocks, boldly modelled, and carefully arranged, offer a sense of intimacy, permanence and security through their scale and relationship to one another, and are all the more interesting as an example of sheltered housing for their distinct, modernist, expression and non-traditional choice of material;
* Planning interest: the scheme exploits the long narrow site, interspersing buildings with gardens, linked by a cloister-like covered way; the result is a layout which is rational but visually rich and spatially sophisticated;
* Historic interest: the scheme is an early example of a new wave of more humane housing for the elderly emerging in the early 1970s;
* Level of survival: the scheme's fabric and original architectural character survives remarkably well, making it of increasing rarity amongst social housing;
* Authorship: the scheme is an unusual piece of architecture by a young female architect with a strong, versatile, creative talent.

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