Constructive Conservation

Location:
Poplar
Client:
Londonewcastle
Status:
Planning

Our approach to Balfron Tower has been one of constructive conservation; respecting the external fabric of the building and restoring the internal communal spaces. From the start, we have understood the importance of this landmark building and hold it in.

In some rare instances, we have made modifications that respond to inherent design issues. Issues Goldfinger would have addressed, as we know he kept detailed notes of both his own experience of living in the building and tenant’s comments. We have also responded to bringing the fabric of the building up to modern standards in terms of fire, acoustics, waterproofing and thermal insulation. In our minds this building will be here for another 100 years and needs to work for those that live in it. Our most fundamental proposals are at ground level, where landscape, public realm and building meet. Our proposed juxtaposition of planting with the brutalist aesthetic will create a harmonious balance of verdant nature and exposed raw materials. The much admired children’s playground will be adapted to provide good supervision and soft edges. 

Interiors and our living habits have evolved greatly since the tower was constructed. Today, space and light are favoured over segregated rooms and long corridors. This comes in part with the evolution of domestic technology: extractor hoods remove smells therefore kitchens can be part of the living space and sprinklers systems remove the need for corridors. The openness of the flats is also a response to smaller family sizes which create a preference for more flwidgetID spaces and less separation. In all flats our aim is to keep as many of the original details as possible, such as the stair balustrade and the light switches integrated in the door furniture.

One of each of the six flat typologies will be reinstated as per Goldfinger’s original layouts. By doing so the architect’s original vision will be preserved for future generations whilst other flats are modernised. At the base, the glazed entrance will be reinstated as per the original design to create an open and welcoming entrance. In the utility tower, we have removed redundant plant and propose to reinstate communal spaces in the lift tower; a cinema, a play room, a dining room all in the spirit of offering space for social cohesion in high rise living as originally envisaged by Goldfinger.