WHAT architecture - London

Modling House

Scale68 sqm
LocationLondon, UK
ClientWHAT developments
Budget€ 20000
Design Year2005

This project is for a refurbishment of a council flat within the ten-storey tower block that is Mödling House on the 300-dwelling Cranbrook Estate in East London. The Estate was architect Berthold Lubetkin’s last major project before his retirement and in 1982, the Russian-born émigré was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal. Lubetkin viewed architecture as a tool for social progress and as such many of his ideologies are embedded in both the Cranbrook’s architecture and its urbanism: "Nothing is too good for ordinary people".

The refurbishment occurred at a time when London’s leading agents had no interest in the estate which has been poorly maintained. Cranbrook’s imposing identity, derived from the six towers named after European towns twinned with Bethnal Green, means Cranbrook is iconic in its vision of ‘social housing’. This has lead to the Estate being heavily featured in film and television including Little Britain. The refurbishment is an upgrade of Lubetkin’s original layout and has a number of ‘award winning’ features: including the improvement of the bathroom layout such that one can sunbathe in the bath and look out the window; a magnetic wall in the kitchen; a library reception with secret door… whereby servicemen have been known to remark: “How do I get out?”The estate's housing units range from bungalows for the elderly, through to 2 and 4-storey terraces, to paired tower blocks, set within a formal, geometrical layout with two diagonal pedestrian avenues. This mix of low and high rise towers is arranged along the estate’s figure 8 loop road. The estate's hard and soft landscaping was an integral part of the design and included areas of grass, trees, raised planted areas and a communal garden for elderly residents of the bungalows. In 2009 an 'edible estate' allotment garden was established on a former playground.