Last edited 18 Sep 2020

Whittington Estate


[edit] Introduction

Whittington Estate (also known as Highgate New Town) is a social housing project located in the North London borough of Camden. The block of flats was proposed in the 1960s and built in the 1970s as part of an extensive urban renewal initiative that took place throughout London after the Second World War.

[edit] An early work by Peter Tabori

Whittington Estate was designed by Peter Tabori, a British architect originally from Hungary. After studying under Richard Rogers, Tabori was employed by fellow Hungarian Ernö Goldfinger before working for Sydney Cook - the architect for the borough of Camden.

It was during his time with Cook that Tabori came up with the designs for Whittington Estate. The architect on the project was Kenneth Adie (of Camden Council’s Department of Technical Services), who also designed most of the interiors for the project.

[edit] Organic brutalism

The organic brutalist design of Whittington Estate came as a significant contrast to the outdated and poorly maintained working class Victorian-era residences it replaced. Tabori’s design projected a sense of community through the use of environmentally-sensitive urban planning. For instance, the four pedestrian pathways feature different types of plants and trees to break up any visual monotony and assist with wayfinding through the use of natural landmarks. Play areas are incorporated throughout the grounds of the Estate.

The six-stepped terraces project strong horizontal lines while bringing in natural lighting to each maisonette or flat - each of the 271 units with its own private, south-facing balcony or courtyard.

Kitchens face out to the pedestrian paths and play areas and interiors are airy and flexible. Partitions and panels slide up and across to open or close walls.

[edit] Shortcomings and successes

Whittington Estate is a dramatic contrast to other high rise projects constructed at the same time. It is lower to the ground, making it seem more natural despite the use of precast concrete and modern construction techniques.

Whilst it was based on aesthetically admirable principles and well-planned designs, the execution of Whittington Estate nonetheless had several issues. The project started in 1972 and was not completed until 1979 - five years later than the original completion date - and cost £9 million.

In 2020, the Twentieth Century Society (C20) backed an initiative to recognise the significance of Whittington Estate by granting it protected status.

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