|Golden Lane Estate||City of London|
Golden Lane Estate was built for the Corporation of London from 1953-62 after the area had been badly bombed in WWII. Architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon won the competition and their design of both architecture and landscaping is formal and geometric. Designed to be traffic-free, the estate was for people working in the City, with 10 blocks of different sizes around 4 landscaped courtyards. Hard landscaping predominates in the communal spaces although there is some green space and tree planting. Social facilities included a swimming pool, a bowling green (now tennis courts), a nursery school and community centre. The first part was completed by 1957 and represented the first phase of the replanning / rebuilding of the Barbican/London Wall area; a later phase was completed by 1962 along Goswell Road.
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Golden Lane Estate landscaping, July 2000. Photo: S Williams
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The area was badly bombed in World War II and the Golden Lane Estate was built in 1953-62 for the Corporation of London, designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon following a public competition won by Geoffry Powell in 1952; they subsequently designed the Barbican Estate (q.v.) from 1956. Powell's original scheme was for a more symmetrical layout of formal courtyards with a central axis that remains between the estate office under Great Arthur House and the community centre, terminating in a raised circular bastion with trees. The final scheme for Golden Lane had blocks of different sizes massed around a number of landscaped courtyards, and with social facilities; the use of colour throughout the estate was seen as important. The first part was completed by 1957 and represented the first phase of the replanning / rebuilding of the Barbican/London Wall area. The estate was designed to be traffic-free and the aim was to provide accommodation for people working in the City, with 10 blocks around 4 courts, which were largely hard landscaped, the architects regarding 'the whole scheme as urban. We have no desire to make the project look like a garden suburb' (Powell, quoted in the Architectural Association Journal, 1957). Consequently the landscaping is formal and geometric, like the buildings, with strong patterns created throughout. This included the roofs, the tallest block having an elaborate roof garden designed by Peter Chamberlin with a pool, pergola and stepping stones, and trees in circular beds. This was later closed following a suicide and vandalism. The centrepiece was Great Arthur House, which when it was built was the highest block of flats in London.
Social facilities included a swimming pool, bowling green that is now tennis courts, a nursery school and community centre. A later phase was completed by 1962 along Goswell Road. Until borough boundaries changed in 1994 the estate was part of LB Islington. There are numerous courtyards and some areas of communal gardens, largely grass with some trees including a fine catalpa; a fountain in one courtyard.
Andrew Saint (introduction), 'London Suburbs', Merrell Holberton Publishers 1999; Simon Bradley & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London', 1997 (1999 ed.); Elain Harwood, Public Housing and Landscaping in Post-War London, paper presented at the Autumn Conference of London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust, 'London's Garden Suburbs, Community Landscape and the Urban Ideal', 4 and 5 October 2000.