About the Site

269 Leigham Court Road, sheltered housing for the elderly, is an especially good example of the the many housing schemes for old people build by Lambeth Architects’ Department, complete 1975. Compact clusters of one and two storey flats linked by covered ways between secluded courts and gardens. Exposed concrete blocks both outside and in

(Pevsner Architectural Guides, Buildings of England, p393)

The site consists of 12 one person flats, 33 square metres in size and 32 2 person flats, 46 square metres in size. All flats are built to Parker Morris standards.

Kate Macintosh, the original architect, has given this description of 269 Leigham Court Road

There are 5 identical blocks, linked by a covered way, each with 8 flats, 4 at ground + 4 at 1st floor level. There are a further 4 at 1st floor level, over a corner shop (on the road frontage). This was in the hope of helping to over-come the isolation which comes for many in old age, as was the housing manager’s policy of making application to live on in this scheme open to people not yet retired. There is a caretaker’s flat over a common room + kitchen. This is also on the road frontage. This gives a total of 45 dwellings.

It is a deep narrow back-land site, where a large Edwardian villa stood, but it does have views to the South over a playing field where the local school girls can be seen playing hockey. All the dwellings have an out-door semi or entirely private space, South-facing, which as you can see from the pics, is well used. There were several mature trees, in particular a magnificent walnut, which the scheme was designed around.

The reason it is in concrete block-work is that an edict came from central government, post-metrication (another attempt to stream-line the messy process of building) that all housing authorities must build a “modular-coordinated” housing scheme. Leigham Court Rd was Lambeth’s pilot scheme. The module was a 300mm X 300mm. As you know, even the metric brick has the nominal dimension of 225mm. The only masonry element available which fitted the module was concrete blocks from Forticrete.

Certain themes are carried forward from Dawsons Heights in Dulwich, to this much smaller scheme. The concern that the individual dwelling is not completely subsumed into the whole, while still maintaining a sense of unity. The expression externally of the vertical circulation, providing a punctuation mark in each cluster block. Though all the dwellings are one bedroom, a proportion are for couples, requiring larger bedrooms and sitting rooms. This allows the stepping back to occur, which produces the strong modelling

There’s commentary on the building shortly after it was built here

Kate is very supportive of the campaign to save 269 Leigham Court Road, as are others in architectural profession such as Utopia London

Lambeth Council is not supportive and claim the building is unsuitable. Their justification, with annotations from a resident, is here

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