Esoteric London

No. 856: Kemble Street, WC2

Posted in Architectural by esotericlondon on June 10, 2013

Kemble Street, London, WC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

A Wanderer in London – E.V. Lucas, 1906:

Between Covent Garden and Drury Lane certain eighteenth-century traces still remain; but east of Drury Lane is a wilderness of modernity. Everything has gone between that street and Lincoln’s Inn Fields – everything. Men are not made London County Councillors for nothing.

[Lucas is right in that very little early architecture remains in the area described but a couple of modern gems cropped up in the 1960’s one of which is 1 Kemble Street in the photograph above. Designed by Richard Seifert it was first known by the much more enigmatic name of Space House. He constructed it in a drum shape to reduce the lateral forces that can stress a slab-like block thus reducing the engineering requirements and cutting the cost of construction.

Camden Council restricted the height of the building. It was supposed to have been a proper tower almost twice as high as you see today, and was intended for use as a luxury hotel.
Pre-cast concrete panels were used to clad the building and Seifert’s signature Y-beams are also in abundance.

To see more of Seiferts work see post No. 516R.D.]