35b. Alton East 1952-55 (Rosemary Stjernstedt for the LCC) London

There is no great drama to the entries at Alton East but they do allow for connections between inside and outside through the extensive glazing on the ground floor lobby and fire stairs. The glazed stair as joint or reveal was a recurrent theme in point blocks. Like The Lawn, the Alton point blocks sit in a suburban green setting. At ground level entry is via a void underneath the tower leading into a fairly transparent lobby. In contrast to the internalised core at The Lawn, here the lobbies at each floor have visual connections out to the exterior through the glazed fire stair partitions. This allows for the possibility of understanding the elevated level of ones home visually – you can view out and see how high you are before entering your flat. Additionally, though Alton East shares a similar suburban context with The Lawn, the towers and their entries are well related to the roads and footpaths. There is an almost urban feeling to the zones immediately outside the entries. A comparison between The Lawn and Alton East demonstrates that the arrival configuration taken at its most abstract – movement across open space to a lift lobby ascending to an upper floor lobby giving access to a flat – is not sufficient to guarantee a better or worse result. The difference here is down to smaller spatial details – transparency of the lobby, the more fluid movement from exterior into interior, the connection with the exterior context at upper levels. The spaces of arrival, and its associated routine, are more considered and developed at Alton East – testament to that are the decorative tiles that adorn each entry way and stairwell. And though many towers and slabs suffered from the pared back approach of The Lawn, many post-war housing projects of this type employed artworks to ennoble the spaces of arrival.

  • Exterior black & white image, unknown source
  • Three black & white images courtesy of the London Metropolitan Archive (https://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk)
  • Streeview images courtesy of Google Maps
  • Map courtesy of OS Digimap

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Next Entry 36. Cromer Street Estate

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