Welcome to Corringham

 

The plans

In the summer of 1960 the freeholder of the land and property at 13-16 Craven Hill Gardens, Ms Wimbush, decided to demolish the 19th century Uffington Hotel at that location, and to replace it with "48 high class residential maisonettes". She employed property developer Hector Properties Investments and architects' firm Douglas Stephen & Partners, with Kenneth Frampton as the "job architect".

The first plan

First plan - front elevation

First plan - cross section

The first design was completed on November 11th 1960, and approved by London County Council on November 14th 1960. Kenneth Frampton suggested a building consisting of 45 apartments in total. There were 39 maisonettes arranged over six floors, with three additional one-bedroom flats on the lower-ground level above the basement car park, and three one-bedroom penthouse flats. Each of the six middle floors was designed with four two-storey maisonettes at the back and three at the front of the building. The remaining space at the front was occupied by the lift and stair well, thus sacrificing space where three more maisonettes could have been realised. To access the apartments on the six middle floors only three double-height access corridors were required. With this design, Kenneth Frampton realised 29 two-bedroom flats and 16 one-bedroom flats. Balconies were planned at the front and back of the building for all apartments.

However, Hector Properties Investments insisted on a total of 48 maisonettes, while Westminster Council required that the volume of the new block should correspond to that of the previous buildings on the site.

The second plan

Second plan - front elevation

Second plan - cross section

Kenneth Frampton prepared new drawings which were presented on March 15th 1961. The idea of splitting each apartment over two floors was not changed, but the maisonettes were no longer arranged on either side of the access corridors. Instead, each flat had a living room and kitchen at the front of the building and one or two bedrooms at the back. As the cross-section of this design shows, the apartments were now either up-going or down-going from one side of the block to the other. They were carefully arranged to interlock with each other following the so-called scissor design devised by London County Council's architects in the 1950s. As a result, Kenneth Frampton was able to replace the double-height access corridors he had originally designed with single-height corridors. The volume thus gained was used to realise three more maisonettes in the block without increasing its outer dimensions. Also, the residents of down-going maisonettes could look straight through the building and into the garden - as the cross section diagram illustrates.

The one-bedroom maisonettes were slightly smaller than the two-bedroom apartments. Kenneth Frampton arranged the various flats over the eight floors of the building to achieve a lively silhouette with alternating smaller and larger balconies at the front and at the back.

In this design only four access corridors sufficed to service all 48 flats. The price for such efficiency was that the apartments with living rooms on the top floor had a slightly awkward layout. Their front doors were planned on the fourth access corridor. From the front door, a flight of stairs led toward the bedroom at the back of the building. Two further flights of stairs, leading past the bathroom and WC, led to the top floor living room.

The modified second plan

Modified second plan - cross section

To allow a more elegant access to the top floor apartments, Kenneth Frampton proposed a modified design with a fifth access corridor on the roof. In this plan the balconies of the one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments were aligned so that the front and the back of the building were completely flat. Also, the modified design shows much healthier looking trees in the garden!

London County Council approved Kenneth Frampton's second plan and its modified version on June 9th 1961.

The third plan

Further alterations to the design of the building were submitted to London County Council on April 24th 1961. Unfortunately, the plans are somewhat ambiguous to the non-architecturally trained.

The balconies at the front of the building were removed, presumably to allow for larger living rooms. There were one-bedroom apartments on the lower three floors. From the silhouette of the building it would seem that the top three floors, designed narrower at the back, also consisted of one-bedroom maisonettes - leaving only twelve two-bedroom apartments, on the fourth and fifth floors, out of the total 48. However, thin pencil marks on the drawings suggest extending terraces on the top three floors - and these extending terraces are confusingly marked "bedrooms" in the architect's annotations.

Presumably the architect tried out various options for the number of one-bedroom apartments and for their placement within the building.

Third plan - North elevation

Third plan - cross section

 

The fourth and final plan

The final design for the building was submitted to London County Council on January 25th 1962 and approved on June 18th that year. The drawings for this design were unfortunately not available to copy, so they have been reconstructed from Kenneth Frampton's third design instead.

In the final plan all 18 one-bedroom flats are located on the bottom three floors. The concrete walls of their terraces are opened up, which makes the building narrower at the bottom. The resulting "overhang" at the back of the building visibly provides the extra space needed to realise the second bedrooms in the 30 two-bedroom maisonettes on the five top floors - following the modernist idea that "form follows function".

The entrance canopy was added in 1964 after completion of the rest of the building.

Fourth and final plan - North elevation

Fourth and final plan - cross section