Balfron Tower

Poplar, London

Balfron Tower is a Grade II Listed, 27 storey, residential building located in Poplar, East London, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The building contains 146 residential units (136 flats and 10 maisonettes). It is an iconic symbol of ‘Brutalist’ architecture, designed by the celebrated architect Ernö Goldfinger in the 1960s. In recent years, Balfron Tower and the surrounding area has fallen into disrepair. The proposed refurbishment will preserve, celebrate and enhance Balfron Tower, whilst complementing the settings of the Balfron Tower Conservation Area and of Carradale House.

Our approach to Balfron 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 the highest regard, as befits its new II* grading.

Crucially, Balfron Tower will be updated to meet today’s living standards through sensitive exemplary design, securing the long-term viable future of this heritage asset. 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 tenants’ comments. This includes for instance, wind noise in the vent above the apartment doors and issues of security and privacy along the gallery access that led to metal gates being placed in front of doorways and windows. 

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 who live in it. This has meant designing out cold by bridging and fire proofing the separating walls in the corridors.

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 reception.In the utility tower, we have removed the redundant plant and propose to reinstate communal spaces in the lift tower: a cinema, a play room and a dining room – all in the spirit of offering space for social cohesion in high rise living as originally envisaged by Goldfinger.

Balfron Tower Developments LLP is a Joint Venture between Poplar HARCA, Londonewcastle and United House Developments.