The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

100 Buildings 100 Years

1957: 22-26 Ovington Square, London

Status: Unlisted
Condition: Good condition
Type: Housing
Architect: Walter Segal
Owners: Privately owned
Location: 22-26 Ovington Square, London SW7

Memorably described by Pevsner as reminiscent of “a Morris Traveller parked among grander saloons”, this post-war replacement block captures its date completely. To any Londoner over fifty, it says: bombsite where restoration was not possible. Planning forced that decision and dictated the high density replacement. The use of cross walls of load-bearing engineering bricks expressed externally is characteristic of post war reconstruction (1954-1970), although the mock Tudor wooden lattice is unusual. The physical (if not stylistic) relation to its neighbours is sympathetic. Rather than shock, it comes as a pleasant surprise when one chances upon it.

Segal, of course, went on to pioneer self-build housing. Fifteen years later a pastiche would have been more likely here. Does 22-26 Ovington Square deserve protection? Maybe. Should it be valued? Definitely. It was recommended by the Society for listing in the 1990s, but was turned down. Not far away 24-26 Hereford Square (same period, similar setting, by Colin Wilson and Arthur Baker) was listed, then de-listed and will surely be demolished and replaced with a pastiche, eradicating a crucial piece of London history.

by Peter Ruback

Photo courtesy David Anderson

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