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, a popular architectural style of the 1930s which, as an evolution of the modernist and art deco styles, placed emphasis on clean lines and sculptural forms to produce a distinctive wave-like silhouette. Streamlined buildings are deliberately made free of surface detail and decorative elements in order to draw the eye to the rhythm and proportion of the whole. The façade of Whitehall Lodge, with its multiple planes and curves between a striking pair of cylindrical towers, is typical of the style. The streamline effect was further enhanced by the construction methods chosen for the flats, which are built of reinforced concrete forming a single monolithic structure. The concrete structure is rendered here in white and by using Crittall style steel windows, placed flush against the exterior surface, the architects were able to produce a highly smooth profile. Reinforced concrete was still a relatively novel method of building at the time and more commonly seen in large commercial buildings, making Whitehall Lodge a rare example of its use in a domestic and suburban setting. That Whitehall Lodge survives remarkably intact in its original form today, both externally and internally, is unusual and reflects the hard work of the residents, who recently formed their own management committee. The block is surrounded by large private grounds which also retain their original layout, including a horseshoe-shaped driveway and residents’ garages to the rear.

Whitehall Lodge 2

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

The architect responsible for Whitehall Lodge was Henry W. Binns2 of Binns & Scarlett. Both Binns and his partner Frank Scarlett had significant experience in designing in the modernist style, Binns having earlier completed the Gas Showrooms in Wandsworth and Chalfont House flats in Belgravia, and Scarlett having produced one of the earliest modernist houses in Britain, Starlock House in Rye (1929-30). Binns’ T-shape plan was further developed by English and Scottish Co-operative’s Cyril B. Smith2 who added the tower detail and rear balconies in a manner comparable to Ruskin Park House, then also under development with E&S and designed by Watkins Gray.

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 yellow, 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.1 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

In 1976 Whitehall Lodge was listed as a Haringey Council ‘building of merit’ in recognition of its architectural significance and valuable contribution to the character of the local conservation area. The entry for Whitehall Lodge in Haringey’s Conservation Area Character Appraisal4 (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 in a grouping of 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 personally believe this is a damaging and flawed proposal for the following reasons:

  1. Given the well-preserved nature of Whitehall Lodge’s original structure and its evident architectural merit the proposed additions will cause irreversible damage to the integrity of the building, permanently altering its outline and fundamentally compromising its architectural integrity.
  2. The proposed new flats will extend over the majority of the footprint of the current building and require a second storey plant room (to rehouse the lift motor and water tanks following the partial demolition of the original rooftop structure). These additions will substantially increase the scale, height and bulk of the building.
  3. The materiality of the proposed new structure, especially the zinc-metal cladding, is quite alien to the character of the original building and would draw unwelcome attention to the reconfigured and top-heavy rooftop extension.
  4. The curved corners of the featureless plant room have an unresolved relationship with plan form immediately below.
  5. Whitehall Lodge makes a very significant positive contribution to the local Conservation Area and is rightly designated as a heritage asset. These proposals will unquestionably work to the detriment of the Conservation Area.

 

Whitehall Current Isometric
Architects’ isometric drawing of current building5  ©Emergent Design Studios Ltd.
Whitehall Proposed Isometric
Architects’ isometric drawing showing proposed rooftop extension5 ©Emergent Design Studios Ltd.
Whitehall Proposed Front Elevation
Architects’ drawing showing proposed new extension from front elevation5 ©Emergent Design Studios Ltd.

References

  1. Original Sales Brochure, 1937.
  2. Haringey Council Building Control records, ref no. 10,718.
  3. Advertisement, The Times, issue 48720, Friday, Sept. 13, 1940.
  4. Haringey Council Listed Buildings document: https://www.haringey.gov.uk/planning-and-building-control/planning/planning-policy/design-and-conservation/listed-buildings/haringeys-local-list.
  5. Haringey Council Planning Application, ref number HGY/2020/0665.