From Brutalist to Georgian: 10 architecturally iconic projects

November 16, 2021

We have partnered with some great clients and organisations over the past 10 years; they are at the heart of what we do. But so, too, are the incredible buildings and projects we have worked on and housed guardians in. From Brutalist towers to Georgian townhouses, we take a look at some of our favourite architecturally iconic projects from the last 10 years.

 

1. Balfron Tower

Designed by architect Ernö Goldfinger in the 1960s, Balfron Tower, situated in the Brownfield Estate in east London, is characterised by its brutalist design and has been the backdrop of several music videos, including This is Music by the Verve and Morning Glory by Oasis. It also featured on BBC programme The Hustle, the 1988 film For Queen and Country and Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. Goldfinger was so taken by his own design that he moved into flat 130 with his wife for two months in 1968. In 2014, the National Trust refurbished the flat to resemble its 1960s heyday. 

In November 2014, Dot Dot Dot secured the 26-storey building with guardians, housing 30 guardians in 20 flats which would otherwise be empty. 

2. Robin Hood Gardens

Robin Hood Gardens was the late-1960s brainchild of architects Alison and Peter Smithson. The Poplar estate was finished in 1972, and encapsulates the architects’ concept of ‘streets in the sky’, characterised by large concrete blocks connected by walkways. In 2012, we housed guardians alongside existing tenants in the emptying estate to support its complex transition.

Despite a high-profile campaign by architects and preservation bodies to save Robin Hood Gardens, it was demolished in 2017. Keen to preserve its history and spark conversations about social housing, the V&A salvaged a part of the facade, which was shown at the Venice Architecture Biennial in 2018.

3. Capella Court

Capella Court in Purley

Modernist in design and tear-dropped in shape, the iconic Capella Court is home to almost 70,000sq ft of office space. It was built by British architects Raglan Squire & Partners between 1964 and 1967, firmly placing it in its modernist context. Located on an island on Brighton Road in Purley, Croydon, it features a huge light-filled atrium and 360° views of London and beyond. It is a popular building amongst locals, and its unique shape has given it the nickname of the ‘VW building’. 

In 2020, we partnered with Peer Group plc to provide security for the building, housing guardians on the fifth floor. In June 2021, Maslow Capital pledged £13.7m to Sheen Lane Developments to transform the disused offices into residential apartments.

4. Thamesmead

Built in the 1960s and deemed ‘the town of tomorrow’, Thamesmead’s distinctive brutalist architecture has been the backdrop to several culturally significant works of film and TV throughout the last 60 years, from A Clockwork Orange to Harry Potter. The social housing estate was designed by the Greater London Council (GLC) division architect Robert Rigg, who took inspiration from housing estates in Sweden where a reduced crime rate was attributed to the inclusion of lakes and canals. 

Dot Dot Dot has worked with Peabody since 2015 to house over 300 guardians in a variety of spaces whilst the estate’s 30-year regeneration takes place.

5. Palace Court

Palace Court is a row of Georgian townhouses on a quiet, tree-lined street situated next to Kensington Gardens in Notting Hill, London. The buildings date back to the late 19th century, with many featuring Dutch-inspired facades. Famous occupants in the area include Alice Meynell, a poet and essayist.

Dot Dot Dot managed 13 Palace Court on behalf of Viridian (and subsequently Optivo) from May 2017 until April 2019, housing 29 people in 19 spaces in the building that would otherwise have been vulnerable to incidences of antisocial behaviour.

6. South Kilburn

Stephanie O’Callaghan- Dot Dot Dot

Craik Court, Crone Court and Winterleys are three tower-blocks located in the Carlton Vale area of South Kilburn. The first flats were let out in Craik Court and Crone Court in March 1967. There are 227 dwellings across the three blocks, from which you can see sweeping views of north London. South Kilburn has featured all over the big and small screen, including in NW, the film adaptation of Zadie Smith’s novel, the 1987 film Withnail & I and the TV drama Trigger Point.

Brent Council is almost half way through its 15 year regeneration of South Kilburn. Dot Dot Dot continues to work with Brent Council to secure flats across South Kilburn, ensuring that blocks remain occupied, existing residents feel safe, and that the transition goes smoothly. 

7. Grove Park Youth Club

Part of the Chilbrook estate in Grove Park, Lewisham, Grove Park Youth Club was commissioned by the London County Council (LCC) in 1965. Sir Hubert Bennett and Leo Hallissey, architects on the team at LCC who were inspired by the Bauhaus movement, also designed other culturally significant buildings in the 1960s including the Hayward Gallery, Michael Faraday Memorial and Crystal Palace National Recreation Centre. 

Dot Dot Dot moved guardians into the decommissioned youth club in 2017. Working alongside the Grove Park Youth Club Building Preservation Trust, three guardians focused their volunteering efforts to help with restoring the building. After handing the building back to Lewisham Council, the youth club reopened its doors on 26th July 2021.

8. Toynbee Hall

Toynbee Hall in the East End

Toynbee Hall was created in 1884 by Samuel and Henrietta Barnett, providing a place for future leaders to live and work alongside those facing poverty in the East End. Their vision was for an interdependent community that addressed the causes and impacts of poverty in the area. Alumni include Clement Atlee and William Beveridge. The building was designed by Elijah Hoole and features a Tudor-Gothic style, and was granted Grade II listed status in 1973. 

The charity still continues its work today, and in 2014 it committed to a regeneration project to develop and refurbish the site. During this period of transition, we housed and managed 65 guardians in 30 different properties, as well as providing estates management service.

9. Wisbech Castle 

Wisbech Castle is a castle located in Cambridgeshire and was built in 1072 on the orders of William I. In late Tudor times, the building was used as a notorious prison, but was redeveloped several more times in the 17th and 18th centuries. The building was given Grade II listed status in 1983.

We partnered with Cambridgeshire County Council in 2017 to secure and care for the 11th century building. Wisbech Town Council negotiated the long-term lease of the building, working with local volunteers to form The Wisbech Castle Project. The project seeks to bring the building back into public use and retain it as a much-loved asset for the people of Wisbech.

10. Kilmore House

Photo credit: Mark Muldoon

Kilmore House is an iconic block of flats in Poplar, east London, made more so by the 2014 addition of an 80 foot mural. The mural was painted by street artists Irony and Bee, and is supposed to symbolise the presence of gentrification in the area. It is thought that the building will appear in the much anticipated fourth season of Top Boy, which is set to air on Netflix this year.

We have secured flats across Poplar since 2011, working closely with Poplar HARCA to look after empty assets and create meaningful social impact in the area. To date, Kilmore House is the only one of our properties to feature an 80 foot chihuahua. 

If you want to find out more about the buildings we manage and whether property guardianship could be right for you, get in touch at partnerships@dotdotdotproperty.com.

On the ground: Guardianship that meets your needs

December 18, 2020

From our Director of Services, Mark Ackroyd

In the first of our ‘On the ground’ series, we explore some of the details of how our service works. In future articles, we’ll look in more detail at how we set up, operate and demobilise our service in different settings. In this article, we describe how Dot Dot Dot creates the right division of property management responsibilities for each client.

How to prepare a property for safe occupation can often seem like the most important question. It’s a critical step (both practically and financially), and we will be exploring the setup phase in future articles. But it is important to think more widely about how property management will function across the lifetime of a guardian contract; in many projects, this is the critical factor that helps guardianship deliver the maximum benefit to property owners. From my experience, this is one of the most pressing questions for clients who have to juggle existing property management budgets and pressures.

 

Matching contract responsibilities to client needs

At Dot Dot Dot, we think it is critical to understand not just the properties, but also the needs and operating environments of our clients. The following examples of issues or pressures are likely to be familiar to all property owners, but we find that each client has a unique set of priorities:

  • Mitigating fixed costs (e.g. council tax, utilities, maintenance contracts)
  • Protection against unauthorised occupants or vandalism
  • Removing day-to-day property management demands (e.g. access, security, repairs)
  • Handling core FM functions such as managing a planned maintenance programme
  • Buffering against occasional costs (e.g. roof repairs, flytipping)
  • Controlling long-term dilapidation and disrepair 
  • Reputational or political pressure around property use

Our goal with any client is to offer contract options that are a good match for their specific needs. We can customise and adjust this very finely, but below are some examples of common approaches.

Example 1: Like a lease, but not a lease

Under this model, clients hand over properties at a basic standard, and Dot Dot Dot takes on all of the in-life compliance, repair and management responsibilities. This includes the costs, repairs and maintenance that would normally fall to a leaseholder. Property owners or asset managers retain responsibility for block level maintenance (though we can often assist).

This structure has similarities with a leaseholder arrangement, but there is no lease required. Clients can end our service contract with 30 days’ notice. This model works well in many residential settings, and is particularly useful during ongoing decants with an uncertain pipeline of void properties.

Example 2: Shared management

In larger buildings (commercial or residential), many clients wish to retain their own PPM and compliance regimes. One solution is to share the ongoing management with Dot Dot Dot. We can take on the on-site operations and daily FM responsibilities at the property, including responsive repairs. In major assets, this might include establishing suites of operating procedures and monitoring regimes.

By working with existing safety systems and regimes, we can simplify the cost structure and workload of our client. This leaves them free to focus on predictable upkeep, and on securing the next phase of the building’s life. This is a collaborative approach for hands-on clients. It can be a great solution for complex assets where owners or asset managers want to solve security or FM problems, but need close control of financial and operational risks.

Example 3: Turnkey property management

One of the simplest contract options is for Dot Dot Dot to take on the full breadth of property management. We’ll develop a full management and occupation plan, allowing us to take care of all compliance, maintenance and management in line with the client’s needs.

Clients may choose to take an arm’s length approach and to rely on our reporting and reviews to keep in touch with their property. Others might remain closely involved in monitoring and decision-making. Armed with a detailed understanding of our client’s needs and of the property, Dot Dot Dot can often help clients to navigate uncertain development or sales timelines by assisting with medium-term asset management decisions or projects such as minor works.

This is a good option for clients with multiple competing priorities. It allows owners and asset managers to put assets ‘on hold’, while being reassured properties are secure, managed and maintained until needed.

Picking the right approach

Owners and asset managers with experience of guardianship may have a clear view of the service they require, but they do not need to decide in advance which approach will best support them. 

By sharing their priorities and needs, clients enable Dot Dot Dot to identify the right structure. Although guardianship is always at the heart of our service, we recognise that a “one size fits all” approach will limit the value we can offer. Instead, we believe in matching our service to the circumstances and needs of each client.

Next in ‘On the ground’ – how we mobilise in large and complex properties.

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