The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Richmond’s Twentieth Century Buildings Get Recognition

The C20 Society is delighted that two of Richmond’s most fascinating historic buildings are in the news – one Art Deco and one Brutalist.

Whilst Richmond is well known for its major heritage sites from the C18th and earlier (such as Ham House, Marble Hill, Pope’s Grotto and Strawberry Hill) the amazing richness of C20th architecture in the borough is less well known.

Now one of these very special buildings has been upgraded to Grade II* and another has been added to the national list of architecturally and historically important buildings at Grade II.

Langham House Close (blocks of flats just off Ham Common) has been upgraded to Grade II*. Like the concrete buildings of the South Bank these are Brutalist buildings. The Art Deco Café Matthiae on Kew Road has been listed at Grade II. The Twentieth Century Society has lobbied hard to achieve this and is delighted at the result. The Society has organised tours of C20th Ham and Richmond and plans to visit the borough again soon.

Caseworker Eva Branscome says “The Café Matthiae is a rare surviving Art Deco bakery and shop with two formal rooms upstairs. The flashy façade is still in its original condition and even the clock has survived. It has been closed for a while but we hope that the new owner will be able to maximise on this outstanding heritage asset as well as its good location. It takes you back to a more glamorous past when this was the place in Richmond to see and be seen. We need to bring this back to the borough.”

Director Catherine Croft adds “Langham House Close was built 1957-58 by architectural firm Stirling and Gowan. (James Stirling went on to be a famous and flamboyant architect – his best known buildings include the Tate Britain extension and a major art gallery in Stuttgart). This group of three blocks of flats is an early masterpiece. They were elegantly squeezed in to the long narrow site of a Georgian manor house. From the outside the buildings try to fit in with the older building by using the same colour of brick while, but at the same time they use modern forms and lots of exposed concrete elements. The flats themselves are striking with ingenious floor plans and geometric concrete fireplaces. They still look very modern and are exciting spaces to live in.”