Architect: Stirling & Gowan
Langham House Close
Richmond upon Thames
A very rare three-bedroom apartment with a balcony in the sought-after Langham House Close, a development on Ham Common recently described by the 20th Century Society as “a benchmark against which all other apartment blocks can be measured”.
English Heritage has given the group of apartments Grade II* listed status (extremely rare for a post-war property) in recognition not only of the exceptional design by the architects Stirling & Gowan but also the manner in which the buildings have been maintained since their construction in 1957-58.
This apartment is in the main block on the second floor and comprises three bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, living / dining room and a balcony. This particular property has been meticulously maintained by the current owners and displays many of the finest original features including exposed brick walls with recessed pointing, tiled window sills and original, refurbished kitchen units.
The apartment is exceptionally light and there are fine views from the main bedroom of the communal gardens that lie to the rear of the building. The communal areas of the blocks are particularly impressive, featuring fine precast concrete, beautiful handrails and wide walkways.
Langham House Close is a short no-through road (with its own car park) in a peaceful location just metres from the green expanse of Ham Common. Nearby attractions include the River Thames,Teddington Lock and Richmond Park. Excellent local shopping is available on Ham Parade, within a couple of hundred yards, and the major shopping centres of Richmond and Kingston are easily accessible by public transport. Petersham is also nearby. There are four pubs in Ham, as well as three restaurants. Two bus routes between Richmond and Kingston, the 65 and 371, serve the area. Frequent rail services to London Waterloo are available from Richmond (Zone 4) and Kingston (Zone 6).
There is a service charge for all apartments on Langham House Close of £185 per month (this covers all maintenance, gardening and buildings insurance). All of the apartments are owner-occupied and cannot be let out for more than six months per year.
The vendors are also selling a garage at Langham House Close, available by separate negotiation.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
The three apartment blocks in Langham House Close were designed in 1955 by James Stirling (1926-1992) and James Gowan (1923-) for the Manousso Group as a speculative development. They were built in 1957-58 on a site that was formerly the back garden of a Georgian manor house. The blocks were Grade II listed in 1998 and upgraded to Grade II* in 2006.
The main block (primarily built of load-bearing London stock brick and timber shuttered concrete) is three storeys in height with floor levels expressed externally by concrete bands. Each block has a largely glazed entrance hall with dogleg stairs. Apartments in the main block feature balconies drained by concrete gargoyles whose pattern derives from Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, and Maisons Jaoul. Stirling wrote widely on Le Corbusier in the years preceding his work at Langham House Close and was also known to be studying the work of Dutch architects such as Theo Van Doesburg at the time. It is also thought that the warehouse buildings of Stirling’s native Liverpool influenced the design of these apartment blocks. According to English Heritage, “this mix of vernacular and early modern movement influences with raw Corbusian concrete (far better finished here than in Le Corbusier’s work) heralded a new style of architecture in Britain, which with its acknowledgement of the massiveness of many buildings of the nineteenth-century industrial revolution was a truly British contribution to the international modernist canon of the late 1950s, and gave an appropriate aesthetic to the title ‘New Brutalism.’”
The architecture of the Langham House Close flats is as impressive inside as it is externally. The structural brick and concrete fireplaces are particularly noteworthy, but the attention to detail and quality of construction is to be admired throughout. “If we consider this building within the context of other post-war apartment complexes,” wrote Eva Branscome of the Twentieth Century Society in a recent article concerning the listing of the buildings, “we can find none at all that has dedicated such a thorough approach to the whole building both inside and out.” Branscome goes on to praise the “rigorous approach” of the design, describing it as “a truly exemplary ensemble” and “a benchmark against which other apartment blocks can be measured”. Catherine Croft, the director of the Twentieth Century Society, further added that “the flats themselves are striking with ingenious floor plans and geometric concrete fireplaces. They still look very modern and are exciting spaces to live in.”
James Stirling was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1981, and the annual RIBA prize for architecture is named in his honour.