“We will deliberately create exhilaration” Berthold Lubetkin
A rare opportunity to purchase a two-bedroom ex-Local Authority flat with balcony on the sought-after Spa Green Estate in Clerkenwell. Built in 1949 to a design by the renowned Modernist architect Berthold Lubetkin, the estate has been given a prestigious Grade II* listing by English Heritage in recognition of its architectural significance.
The flat is located on the fourth (top) floor of Sadlers House (there is lift access). It has two double bedrooms, a bathroom, a reception room with access to the balcony, and a separate kitchen. The flat has dark wood parquet flooring which was installed by the current owners. The heating and hot water are run off a communal system and included in the service charge.
Conceived as public housing, the Spa Green Estate has a mixture of council tenants and private owners (we understand from our client that approximately half of the flats are in private hands). It was the subject of an exemplary refurbishment in 2008 that restored the original colour scheme, which recalls Lubetkin’s contacts with Russian Constructivism.
The Spa Green Estate occupies a site between Rosebery Avenue and St John Street. It is within a short walk of Angel Underground station (Northern Line), as well as the shops, restaurants and pubs of Islington and Clerkenwell. There are local buses to the West End, the City and Waterloo. Exmouth Market and Amwell Street have many good bars, restaurants and independent shops. There are several small parks in the area, including Middleton Square, Spa Fields and St James’ Church Garden.
Lease: 125 years from 1983
Freeholder: Islington Council
Service charge: Approx. £1,600 per year (includes heating and hot water, ground rent and general estate repairs including lighting, entryphone, management fee, lift maintenance)
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.
Berthold Lubetkin is among the most important figures of the Modern Movement in Britain. Born in Georgia in 1901, he studied in Berlin and Paris, before moving to London in 1931. The following year he founded the famous Tecton practice with the Architectural Association graduates Anthony Chitty, Lindsay Drake, Michael Dugdale, Valentine Harding, Godfrey Samuel and Francis Skinner.
Lubetkin’s buildings are among the most iconic of the period, and include the penguin pool at London Zoo (designed in conjunction with the engineer Ove Arup) and Finsbury Health Centre.
The Spa Green Estate was designed by Lubetkin while he was working with Tecton in the late 1930s, but was not completed until 1949, by which time the firm had regrouped as Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin. His intention was to create a manifesto for modern architecture.
Spa Green borrowed features from Lubetkin’s acclaimed Highpoint flats in Highgate, including lifts, central heating, balconies, daylight and ventilation from multiple directions, large entry spaces, and a roof terrace. Well designed fitted kitchens, including slide-away breakfast counters and ironing boards, electrical and gas appliances, and a central waste-disposal system in stainless steel, exceeded the amenities enjoyed by most of the population in the austere late 1940s. Ove Arup’s innovative concrete box-frame or ‘egg-crate’ construction gave each flat clear views and interiors uncluttered by beams, columns or pipes, while his aerodynamic ‘wind-roofs’ and open terraces provided a communal area for drying clothes, social gathering and enjoying views.
After the Grade II* listing of Spa Green in 1998, Homes for Islington with English Heritage initiated a restoration of the entire exterior plus the kitchens and bathrooms of the flats still in council ownership. Deteriorated concrete was recast, windows replaced with double-glazed steel Critall units resembling the originals, and Lubetkin’s colours reconstructed.
The architect John Allan of Avanti has written of the estate: “The first and best of Lubetkin and Tecton’s post-war housing schemes set a standard in architectural and technical accomplishment unmatched by any contemporary. Over half a century later, Spa Green still radiates a sense of optimism that defies the commonplace dismissal of flatted estates as a modern urban aberration.”