Neave Brown, 1970
13b Rowley Way, NW8 0SF
The Alexandra Road Estate is a low-rise, high-density, mixed-use development designed by Neave Brown for Camden's Architects' Department.
31, 189, 139
steep staircase for access
The Alexandra Road Estate is a low-rise, high-density, mixed-use development designed by Neave Brown for Camden's Architects' Department. It was planned to include housing for 1660 people in 520 dwellings of various sizes, a tenants' hall, underground parking, shops, workshops for the council's building department, a school for children with learning difficulties, a children's reception centre, residential accommodation for young physically disabled people (demolished in 1999) and a public open space. A youth club was later added to the brief.
Planning permission for the housing estate was granted in 1968. Demolition of existing houses on the site commenced in 1970 and building works in 1972, partial completion was in 1978 and full occupation by 1979.
The flats on the estate are cleverly designed, an example being a two-bedroom maisonette occupying two upper storeys of the four-storey concrete terrace on the south side of Rowley Way. The concept for the long curving street has been described by Elain Harwood as “Georgian terraces in modern dress” and by others in less complimentary terms, but many of the residents find it an interesting or even inspiring place to live.
Entrance to the maisonette is via an uncovered stairway from street level. Inside, the bedrooms, bathroom and store cupboard are placed to the left of the staircase, divided from the small hall by a sliding panel. Original features include an ingenious radiant wall heating system, floor-to-ceiling-height doors, built-in cupboards in the main bedroom and wooden stairs and banisters leading to the living room. This is separated from the dining/kitchen area by sliding panels to the right of the top of the stairs, which allow for an open plan arrangement or for the two sections to be closed off as required.
The kitchen still has original wooden cupboards and tiles and is partly walled off to head height, a feature which (like the sliding panels) has been removed from some of the other flats on the estate. This side of the dwelling looks out over Alexandra Road Park, restored in 2015 with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund and given Grade II* Listed status in 2020.
The living and kitchen/dining rooms are located on the top storey as a design feature to make the best use of natural light. A step made of wooden slats runs along the length of the living room windows and door. These give access to the patio or ‘outdoor room’, which is screened along the balcony front by frosted glass panels and faces the higher terrace across the pedestrian roadway.
The Alexandra Road Estate was spot listed in the Summer of 1993 - exactly thirty years ago and as such was the youngest listed building in the country - with Grade II* status.
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