A fascinating, eleven-storey up-market housing development adjacent to the Foster studio: a scheme of 186 apartments in eleven stories that takes a simple multi-storey block and cleverly bends it around whilst dividing the internal accommodation into a front / back split, so that every apartment has a river-facing terrace.

The adjacent social housing block (45 one and two-bedroom apartments run by Peabody) and office block to the south of the main Albion structure are also quite elegant in a Miesian, 1950’s manner.

It’s effective and it works. The land side demonstrates that a latter-day car manufacturing obsession with the derriere is cross-cultural and has spread from France and Brazil to the Foster Studio (as well as from the sides up and over onto the roof). But is it a cute back-side? And is the effect helped by the acrobatic, neo-Richard Seifert V-legs propping the whole thing up? The lower areas include shops, a restaurant, art gallery, swimming pool and gymnasium for the use of residents.

Around the corner from the luxury of Montevetro 15 is this housing association design (2-4 Gwynne Road, SW11; Walter Menteth Architects,

There is a Building Regulations logic that drives this aesthetic toward a Mediterranean look — also see Peter barber’s housing in the East End.

1999; Train: Clapham Junction) that sparkles like a Mediterranean jewel transported to south London. Eight units are gathered together into a garden pavilion beside the railway line, surrounded by 500 mm ‘gabion’ walls (dry-stone encased in mesh). White walls are played off against bright colours and slim aluminium window details. It is simple, cheap and cheerful, formal whilst still domestic, considerate and sensitive to both client and users. If only London had more like it… (Compare with Pete Barber’s work in the East End.)

Montevetro was a rather controversial block. The name means ‘glass mountain’ and the neighbours were certainly intimidated by the very idea of it — which is not dissimilar in concept to CZWG’s Cascades (see p.162): a stepped apartment block with roof terraces and river views for all apartments. Sitting alongside St. Mary Battersea (1777), the 103 units (including penthouse owned by Marco Goldschmied, a RRP partner) are organised as a slim block divided into five parts, with access towers on the land side and full views on the river side. A key aesthetic device is the use of terra-cotta cladding, first used by Renzo Piano on apartments in Paris, and now a proprietary system and common London feature. The irony of this private, gated community is that it should come from Lord Rogers of Riverside, left-wing promoter of popular causes. You can’t get in, but don’t worry: you can get close on the river side walkway. (Church Road, Battersea, SW11; Richard Rogers Partnership, 1999)

The original church of St Mary’s, Barnes, in 17 Church Road, SW3, suffered arson damage in 1978 and Edward Cullinan gave it a new architecture as well as a new, complex roof and extensions in a vaguely ad hoc, Arts & Crafts manner so typical of his work. Although the church’s original architecture was reformed, the best of the historic fabric was retained in a design process closely involving the local community. The aim was to produce a space for congregation and worship that could continue the tradition established on the site in the eleventh century, but without pastiche.

Updated: 4th November 2014 — 4:23 pm