45-46, ALBEMARLE STREET

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1248510
Date first listed:
23-Apr-1991
Date of most recent amendment:
26-Apr-2013
Statutory Address:
45-46, ALBEMARLE STREET

Map

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Location

Statutory Address:
45-46, ALBEMARLE STREET

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Greater London Authority
District:
City of Westminster (London Borough)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ2908280450

Summary

Offices with ground-floor shops. Built 1955-7 to the design of Ernö Goldfinger. Ove Arup engineers.

Reasons for Designation

No. 45-46 Albemarle Street is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is one of the most distinguished office buildings of the 1950s and a rare instance of urban infill in post-war London that responds sensitively to the scale and vocabulary of the streetscape. Of particular note is the subtle interplay of projection and recession, anticipating on a small scale the mature style that Goldfinger was to develop in his later work. The changes of plane, combination of new and traditional materials and expression of every element of the structure, are hallmarks of Goldfinger’s work;

* Authorship: Ernö Goldfinger was a figure of considerable importance in post-war British architecture; this building marks a pivotal point in his career.

History

Nos. 45-46 Albemarle Street were built in 1955-7 as a speculative office and retail development to the design of the Hungarian émigré architect Ernö Goldfinger (1902-1987), on the site of a pair of Georgian terraced houses destroyed in WWII. The façade grid follows the 'Golden Section' proportions (a mathematical ratio, fundamental to classical design, that has defined proportions in both art and architecture), a principal which Goldfinger derived from his mentor, the French architect Auguste Perret, and which he applied throughout his career. While treated as a single composition, the building comprised two separate premises for different clients, and was designed to enable the floors to be interlinked laterally by constructing the dividing wall as two independent walls. Goldfinger also designed the shop and office fittings for No.46, which do not survive. The building was widely reviewed following its completion, eliciting considerable praise for its sensitivity to its historic context.

Details

MATERIALS: reinforced-concrete frame clad in Portland stone and grey vitrolite; rear elevation clad in bush-hammered concrete with smooth concrete panels; brick infill to WC wings; steel-framed windows to both elevations.

PLAN: mirrored plan with recessed entrances to either side; stairs against outer wall; WCs in small projections to rear. The ground floor and basement are deeper in plan than the upper floors, occupying the entire building plot. The office layout of No. 46 designed by Goldfinger no longer survives. The offices to No. 45 were designed simply as open spaces to be fitted out by respective lessees. The dividing wall has been removed on some floors to create a single office, an intentional part of the design.

EXTERIOR: six storeys high and four bays wide. The façade is set back from the street: a means of conforming with the London County Council's plot ratios while avoiding a set-back top floor. The glazing system consists of ‘photobolic screens’, a light-diffusing device used by Goldfinger at his house in Willow Road, Hampstead (1939) and later at Alexander Fleming House (1959-67), whereby the upper sections of the glazing are set back; the ledge of the lower part serving to reflect light further back into the room. The second and fourth floors have central paired steel-framed oriels. These combined features give the façade its distinctive rhythm of set-back and projecting planes. The fascia to the shop front is an exposed steel I-beam; the plate-glass shop fronts and travertine cladding to the entrances date from the early C21. The façade is surmounted by a timber eaves cornice at 45º supported on concrete posts. The rear elevation has the same glazing as the front, minus the oriels.

INTERIOR: each shop has a steel spiral stair down to basement. The original steel and glass screen separating the entrance hall and shop of No. 46 is believed to survive beneath later cladding. The shop interiors have been otherwise much altered and lack special interest. Stairs to offices have steel balustrades and tubular steel handrails. The office interiors have been repeatedly modernised and lack special interest.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
430143
Legacy System:
LBS

Sources

Books and journals
Dunnett, James, Stamp, Gavin, Erno Goldfinger, (1983)
Emmanuel, M, Contemporary Architects, (1984), 356-359
Harwood, E , A Guide to Post War listed Buildings England, (2000), 600
Pevsner, N, Bradley, S, The Buildings of England: London 6 Westminster, (2003), 495-6
'Architectural Design' in Architectural Design, (January 1958)
'Architectural Review' in , (February 1958)
'Architecture and Building' in , (October 1958)
'Architects' Journal' in Architects' Journal, (18 July 1957; 25 July 1957)

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 27 Aug 2001
Reference: IOE01/04840/35
Rights: Copyright IoE Les Kerry. Source Historic England Archive
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