Brunswick Close Estate, London

Emberton, Franck & Tardew
Date Built
1949 - 1958
St John's Street & Percival Street
The Brunswick Close Estate was built in an area of Finsbury that had suffered extensive damage during WWII.  Joseph Emberton was appointed architect of the redevelopment scheme in 1952 but he died in 1956 before the project was completed.  Carl Ludwig Philipp Franck, as principal of the firm Emberton, Franck & Tardew, took charge and saw it to completion in 1958.  The development comprised three large 14 storey towers each comprising 64 flats.  As you can see from the plan below, one of the towers was named after Emberton.  His plan had favoured high rise blocks in order to allow for open spaces between the blocks.  The towers are staggered for maximum light.  The explains that, "...Two single-storey link ranges were designed to provide flats for the elderly with small front gardens, a layout that, through the linkage, aimed to avoid an 'old people's colony'. .....

... Felix J. Samuely & Partners, consulting engineers, helped Franck to devise a reinforced-concrete structure that moved away from the limitations of a box frame, using load-bearing end walls and solid four-inch floor slabs linked by columns rather than cross-walls. This construction, and the use of a climbing crane, enabled completion seven months ahead of schedule. The absence of crosswalls allowed novel flexibility in the planning; partition walls included doors to allow the ingenious, if impractical, possibility of an eventual transfer of bedrooms from central to adjoining flats, to meet variable demand. Franck and Samuely & Partners refined these constructional and planning innovations in later projects for Finsbury. Interiors were made lighter through part-glazed panels between the livingrooms and the fitted kitchens, which were large enough for dining-tables. The monotonous grid of the frame was externally expressed, with stock-brick wall panels alternating with balconies fronted with fluted concrete, producing an effect not unlike that of the chequerboard designs for the Spa Green Estate. Central lift towers on the east sides buttressed the main slabs. Highlevel escape staircases from the access balconies met regulations governing means of escape from buildings higher than firemen's ladders, and also provided some formal, even sculptural relief.

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