Keeling House, Bethnal Green, London

Denys Lasdun
Refurbished between 1999 and 2001 by Munkenbeck and Marshall
Date Built
Claredale Street
In 1954 Denys Lasdun worked on a social housing project in Bethnal Green on Usk Street.  One element of that development was a cluster tower that involved a number of angled blocks arranged around a central service tower.  He went on to design Keeling House on a second social housing development in Bethnal Green but this time on Claredale Street.  

The building has been given a Grade II* Listing and is described by English Heritage as involving, " .... Reinforced concrete, partly site-cast and partly faced in Portland stone aggregate pre-cast panels. Surface now painted. sixteen storeys, comprising 56 two-storey maisonettes and 8 single storey studio flats. Plan comprises four subsidiary towers, linked to a core containing stairs, lifts and activity areas. The pattern of semi-detached maisonettes is clearly expressed in the rhythm of the elevations, in which solid balconies alternate with the narrower horizontals of the bedroom floors between. The fifth residential floor is occupied by flats, and this is also reflected in the rhythm of the elevations. An important example of post-war housing, which embodies Lasdun's ideas on urban renewal and housing. "

As with many tower block developments, an initial enthusiasm on the part of the residents waned over time and when the Tower Hamlets authority, who owned it, decided in 1999 that couldn't afford to maintain it, they sold it to the private sector.  What followed was the conversion of a deteriorating social housing block into luxury apartments.  The architectural practice of Munkenbeck + Marshall were commissioned to make that transformation.  "As well as updating the flats, we provided a new design for the landscaping and entrance lobby, which sits under a floating aluminium wing. This is accessed by crossing a reflective pool which forms part of an extensive new garden. The furniture in the lobby was designed by the architects.  All flats are now sold and inhabited. The scheme was awarded a RIBA Award in 2002."