C20 Society pushes for safeguarding of Macintosh Court’s design integrity
We are concerned about damaging alterations that have been carried out to a Grade II listed sheltered housing development in Streatham, designed by Kate Macintosh. The buildings are owned by Lambeth Council who are undertaking a series of refurbishment and upgrade works to the post-war buildings. We will be monitoring the situation carefully to ensure that councillors’ promises to rectify the situation are fulfilled.
Designed between 1968 and 1973 the 44-flat complex is composed of staggered blocks arranged either side of a central walkway. The design and construction was an early experiment in modular construction and was one of a number of housing and welfare buildings designed by Lambeth’s in-house architects during that time.
C20 Caseworker Grace Etherington, who has visited the site with Kate Macintosh, said: “Of particular concern is the installation of an array of unsightly heating pipes to the exterior walls which was done without listed building consent. The pipes have a serious negative impact on the buildings’ refined and modest appearance.
“Councillors have acknowledged that the works undertaken are unsatisfactory and that they are committed to rectifying the situation. We understand that the heating pipes cannot be removed until Spring 2019 and we will be keeping an eye on the case to ensure that the correct action is taken. We are wary that no firm commitment to removing all of the pipework has been made by Lambeth Council.”
When recommending listing in 2015, Historic England noted that: ‘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’.
Listed status was secured when the buildings were under threat from plans to sell the site for redevelopment. Elderly residents at Leigham Court (later renamed in Kate Macintosh’s honour) launched a campaign in April 2014 against the ‘disposal’ of the community asset which had been earmarked to help fund the construction of a care home in another part of the borough.
Since listing Lambeth Council has committed to investing in upgrades and refurbishment works at Macintosh Court, including window replacement for which listed building consent was properly sought.
Grace added: “Macintosh Court is only one of a number of residential and community schemes under local authority ownership where services are reaching the end of their life. It is vital that the impact of changes is minimised wherever possible, and alterations are guided by an awareness of the building’s design and importance. We are confident that with the right people on board and with Kate’s guidance, an exemplary solution to a widespread problem can be secured.”
Another of Kate Macintosh’s celebrated social housing projects is Dawson Heights in Dulwich, which is the subject of a free exhibition at the RIBA at 66 Portland Place, London, WIB 1AD which runs until 2 February. See more here: https://www.architecture.com/whats-on/dawsons-heights-hilltop-community
About The Twentieth Century Society
The Twentieth Century Society is a membership organisation which campaigns for the conservation of the best C20th architecture. It was founded in 1976 as the Thirties Society and is now recognised by government and has a statutory role in the planning process. For more details, see our website, www.c20society.org.uk.