© John East
Highgate New Town
By Peter Tábori, Camden, London, 1967-78

Docomomo International would like to draw your attention to a resident-led heritage listing application for Highgate New Town, Camden (1967-1979) which was submitted to Historic England.

Bellow, is the press release from 20th Century Society.

“More recognition and protection should be given to the pioneering social housing schemes developed across London after the Second World War, says the 20th Century Society, as it announces its support for residents at Highgate New Town, who are seeking to have their estates listed.

‘The post war years were an exciting time in architecture with important new ideas about living and space, making our society a richer and better place in which to live,’ said Grace Etherington, senior Caseworker at the 20th Century Society.  ‘London was at the forefront in its commitment to building high quality social housing which encouraged a sense of community. Yet only a handful of these schemes which made an important contribution to 20th century social policy are listed.’

Neave Brown’s Alexandra Road Estate in London was the first post-war housing estate to receive protection by listing at Grade II* in 1993, followed by grade II* listing for Ernő Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in 1998. But overall there is a huge ‘under listing’ in London, says the 20th Century Society, exacerbated in recent years by development pressures.

The Highgate New Town (HNT) is in the residents’ listing application which the 20th Century Society is supporting. Designed by Peter Tábori and executed by job architect Kenneth Adie (1972-78), HNT saw the redevelopment of an area regarded by some at the time as one of Camden’s worst Victorian slums.

The estate is arranged in six terraces that climb the Highgate ridge, with vast underground car-parking, now converted to storage space for security reasons. A dominating mass, it has strong horizontal lines with balconies and cornices at each level and strong vertical cross walls, in pale concrete (now painted).  Between each block are pedestrian streets, each with its own character, with extensive planting which plays an important role in breaking up and softening the sometimes brutal use of concrete. The design allows for each flat or house to have its own private south facing terrace or courtyard.

Tábori moved to London in 1956, following the Russian invasion of his home country of Hungary during which he was incarcerated for 6 months. Arriving in London, Tábori studied at Regent Street Polytechnic (today Westminster University), where his tutors and critics included fellow architects James Stirling, Neave Brown, Eldred Evans and Richard Rogers.

HNT makes an outstanding contribution, to the Low Rise High Density housing built under Camden’s head architect Sydney Cook, between 1965-1973, as well as to London, the UK and beyond. Its design embodies an urban renewal approach achieved through continuity, connectivity and permeability with the surrounding streets, which capitalises on its former layout as part of Victorian Highgate.

The listing application is being made by the Whittington Estate Residents Association Working Group, supported by community/heritage researcher Tom Davies (AHO) together with architectural historian Mark Swenarton as consultant.  A previous listing application, also supported by 20th Century Society, was turned down in 2006.

Tom Davies is doing a PhD comparing some of the social housing estates in Camden with estates in Oslo in Norway and has been helping 20th Century Society with the organisation of its Oslo tour planned for later this year.”

Download the report with more details of the work: HNT V7 Application rep lowres