Esoteric London

No. 430: Hatherley Gardens, N8

Posted in Architectural by esotericlondon on October 21, 2011

Hatherley Gardens, London, N8. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

From the Wikipedia entry Hornsey Town Hall:

Hornsey Town Hall, designed by [Reginald] Uren in 1933, forms the centrepiece of an architectural composition with the Broadway House and Annexe. These three buildings were laid out so as to enclose a public square leading off the main shopping street. The architectural style of the complex projected a statement by a prosperous modern borough seeking to forge a distinctive identity for itself in the capital. The complex is now a monument to a style of local government that has been on the decline since the 1960s. Until the Gas Showrooms was converted into a bank by Barclays [and the Electric Showroom into a deli cum cafe] the combination of a Town Hall – a symbol of progressive local government, flanked by the gas and electric utilities, was unique. United by the use of brick and sculptural decoration by A J Ayres, it was a calm and dignified statement of twentieth-century ideals, facing the flurry of the Victorian shopping centre.

The building is set back as far as possible to give the approach some dignity and to provide essential parking space. The dual function as a public hall and council offices is clearly expressed. The public hall to the north is distinguished by the elongated windows of the foyer, above a generous triple entrance. The ceremonial balcony on the floor above gives the entrance horizontal emphasis. The council offices are approached by a smaller but more decorative footway at the foot of the staircase tower. The council chamber, projecting to the south, is reached by means of a handsome staircase and spacious central corridor, while the offices are arranged compactly around an inner courtyard at the back, to avoid overlooking the neighbouring properties.

The appearance of the exterior with its plain surfaces of specially chosen small bricks, with its dominating tower and elongated windows with pronounced keystones, pays direct homage to the Town Hall at Hilversum by W.M.Dudok [but] Uren softened the severity of Dudok’s brick style with Ayres’s carved stone lintel and the generous use of ornamental metalwork.

[ It appears at the time of posting that Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts are set to move into the Grade II listed building after a £19 million pound refurbishment. R.D.]