Urgent call to action! Please help support our opposition to plans for major alterations to this building by submitting an objection to Haringey Council. See below for further details.

Whitehall Lodge is an apartment building located on Pages Lane, Muswell Hill in north London. It was constructed in 1936-37 by the property developers English and Scottish Co-operative (E&S)(1).

Whitehall Mod Tourists 3 photo

Whitehall Lodge was designed in the ‘Streamline Moderne’ style, an emergent architectural style of the mid-1930s; which, as an evolution of the modernist and art deco styles, placed great emphasis on the clean lines and sweeping sculptural forms which could now be achieved through the use of reinforced concrete and Crittall style steel windows placed flush against the exterior surface. Streamline buildings were deliberately made free of surface detail and decorative elements in order to draw the eye to the rhythm and proportion of the whole, and the wave-like façade of Whitehall Lodge, with its multiple planes and curves held between a striking pair of cylindrical towers, is typical of the style. Reinforced concrete was still a new method of building in the 1930s making Whitehall Lodge an exceptional example of its use in a suburban setting.  Even the famous academic and critic Nikolaus Pevsner, not a man known to be positive about much modernist architecture, took pause during his post-war survey of Muswell Hill to note its ‘white and austere’ presence on Pages Lane.

Whitehall Lodge 2

Whitehall brochure cover
Whitehall Lodge as seen on the cover of the original sales brocure (1937)

The architect responsible for the design of Whitehall Lodge was Henry W. Binns of Binns & Scarlett(1). Both Binns and his partner Frank Scarlett had significant experience in designing in the modernist and art deco styles and had already made notable contributions to the emerging modernist school in Britain prior to being commissioned to design Whitehall Lodge in 1935. Binns’ earlier work include the art deco Gas Showrooms in Wandsworth and Chalfont House in Belgravia. Binn’s partner Scarlett had produced one of the earliest modernist houses in the country, Starlock in Rye, at the remarkably early date of 1929-30, only the third building in Britain to be built in the international modern style. Binns’ T-shape plan was further enhanced by English & Scottish to include the distinctive tower detail in a manner comparable to those at Ruskin Park House (Champion Hill, South London), then also under development with English & Scottish to designs by Watkins Gray architects.

WHL stairwell windows
Detail of patterned glass in the glazing bar, front elevation
Whitehall Lodge
Whitehall Lodge as it stands today

Early residents of Whitehall Lodge were provided with a uniformed porter service and various technologically advanced facilities (for the time), including an all-electric laundry and drying room, central heating and an art deco style lift, the latter remaining in service today. The period doors to each of the 36 flats still retain their original decorative glass panels and are flanked by a set of discrete ‘trade hatches’ originally provided so that foodstuffs, household rubbish and coal could be delivered or collected without disturbing the occupants. The lobby is wood-panelled at ground floor level and a luxurious brass balustrade leads to the generously proportioned upper landings which are lit by natural light from a distinctive leaded-glass window bar. This vertical glazing bar runs the entire height of the building and features thousands of varying textured and coloured glass pieces. Internally, the apartments boasted early examples of fitted kitchens and bathrooms, the latter being half-tiled in cream, green and black, and closely resembling the scheme at nearby Highgate underground station. Many examples of the original bathrooms remain in situ. The original sales brochure indicates that the kitchens were supplied with Ismay Zeros electric refrigeration units(2). A private air raid shelter was added at the outbreak of WW2, during which period the flats were marketed as ARP safe due to their concrete structure(3).

WHL Lobby
Original wood panelling in lobby of Whitehall Lodge, the lift car is to the left of the stairs

Just 40 years after work commenced on Whitehall Lodge the building was listed in 1976 as a Haringey Council ‘building of merit’ in recognition of its architectural significance and valuable contribution to the character of the local Conservation Area. By 2020 this significance has naturally increased, and the entry for Whitehall Lodge in Haringey’s current Conservation Area Character Appraisal (Area 3 – Muswell Hill, 9.5) reads as follows:

Whitehall Lodge is an impressive ‘T’ shaped six storey block of flats built in the 1930s in an international ‘Modern’ style set well back from the street frontage in landscaped grounds. It is included in the Council’s local list of buildings of merit. The elevation is white painted render stepping forward in a symmetrical series of curved and flat planes from the central full height glazed entrance door and staircase tower surmounted by a small penthouse on the flat roof. The outer, most forward, projections are in the form of full height circular towers. All of the windows retain their original characteristic Crittall metal window frames with horizontal glazing bars.

WHL upper landing eg and lift
Typical upper landing

Whitehall Lodge also features strongly in a group of valuable local buildings within the Conservation Area in the art deco and Expressionist styles, including George Coles’ Grade II* listed former Odeon Cinema (Haringey Conservation Appraisal, 4.16) and a terrace of white-painted streamlined houses at nos. 70 to 78 (even) Tetherdown (Haringey Conservation Appraisal, 8.8).

The Current Threat to Whitehall Lodge

A planning application has been submitted by the freeholder of Whitehall Lodge, Swan Lane Estates Ltd., which proposes to erect a large two-storey extension on the top of the existing structure housing an additional 6 flats, the exterior of which will be clad in zinc-metal sheeting, a material and finish unsympathetic to the white render of the original.

If you can spare a moment to object to the plans via the Haringey Council Planning Portal we would be extremely grateful of your support. Anyone may object, there is no need to be a Haringey resident or even a UK resident (international support welcome!) and the form is very simple. The case number is HGY/2020/0665 and the deadline for comments is 15/04/2020.

We believe this is a gravely damaging and flawed proposal which would have a long-term pernicious effect on a heritage asset as summarised as follows:

  1. Given its evident architectural merit and the well-preserved nature of its original structure the proposed additions will cause irreversible damage to the integrity and aesthetic of a building of note, permanently disfiguring its outline and distorting the architectural cohesion of the whole.
  2. The proposed new flats will extend over the majority of the footprint of the current building and will require a second storey to rehouse the lift motor and water tanks. These additions will substantially increase the scale, height and bulk of the building from all elevations.
  3. The proposal will require the partial demolition of the rooftop’s original structure. The applicant’s heritage statement incorrectly suggests that this structure is not original, however it can clearly be seen in the original photo of the building included in the 1937 sales brochure (see photo above).
  4. The materiality of the proposed new structure, especially the use of metal cladding, is quite alien to the character of the original building and would draw unwelcome attention to the reconfigured and top-heavy rooftop.
  5. The heritage statement incorrectly concludes that the historical value of the building is low. On the contrary, the existing building has significant historical interest as noted above, it also makes a very significant positive contribution to the Conservation Area, and is rightly designated as a heritage asset.

 

Whitehall Current Isometric
Architects’ isometric drawing of current building4  ©Emergent Design Studios Ltd.
Whitehall Proposed Isometric
Architects’ isometric drawing showing proposed rooftop extension4 ©Emergent Design Studios Ltd.
Whitehall Proposed Front Elevation
Architects’ drawing showing proposed new extension from front elevation4 ©Emergent Design Studios Ltd.

References

  1. Haringey Council Building Control, record no. 10,718.
  2. Original Sales Brochure, English & Scottish Cooperative, 1937.
  3. Advertisement, The Times, issue 48720, Friday, Sept. 13, 1940.
  4. Haringey Council Planning Application, ref number HGY/2020/0665.