Designed by Ernő Goldfinger in 1967, Balfron Tower is one of the uk’s finest examples of Brutalist architecture. It was awarded a Grade II* listing by English Heritage in 2015 and is now the subject of a complete restoration and refurbishment by award-winning practices Studio Egret West and Ab Rogers Design. The transformation of the tower seeks to honour the historic fabric of the building, while bringing Goldfinger’s Modernist vision of a community in the sky into the 21st century. The apartments are due for completion in Summer 2020.
The resulting apartments have been designed according to two separate schemes produced by the respective studios of Ab Rogers, and Christophe Egret and David West. Each practice has interpreted and channelled original Goldfinger motifs through their own unique approach to design. The apartments have been sensitively reconfigured for open-plan living, encouraging the flow of natural light, introducing complimentary designs and improving accessibility.
Inspired by a modern take on Brutalism, Ab Rogers Design have utilised raw, high precision manufacturing in the design of these exceptional one bedroom apartments. Internal accommodation extends to approximately 450 sq ft configured around an open plan kitchen, dining and living room. The kitchen has Corian worktops, open shelving and bespoke cabinetry. All integrated appliances are by Bosch. The muted colour palette carries through into the dining room and living room which have ‘vintage blue’ linoleum underfoot. Glazed doors draw wonderful levels of natural light across the plan and also provide access to a private balcony with wonderful views across the city.
A bathroom sits to one side of these communal areas and has oversized tiles and coloured ceilings, inspired by specific swatches from the Goldfinger archives. The bedroom is positioned next to the living room and is accessed via a pocket sliding door. The bedroom also has private access to the balcony.
The tower’s silhouette informed Goldfinger’s much-lauded Trellick Tower of 1972 and is comprised of a meticulous concrete grid of apartments and maisonettes set alongside a slender service tower. Portions of the service tower have been re-purposed to create a series of ‘Third Spaces’; shared rooms which seek to foster the sense of community among residents which was so informative for Goldfinger and his architectural vision. Occupying some of the original service areas, these spaces include a dramatic communal dining room on the 26th floor with connecting cookery room, a library, gym, yoga room, music room, cinema and a workshop. There is also a decked rooftop garden with built in benches positioned amidst the plants and shrubs.
The apartments of Balfron Tower are serviced by a lift which stops at every third floor, creating a set of corridors or with their own colour assigned by Goldfinger. Internal access is gained either on the floor directly, or via a staircase, up or down, within each apartment. This arrangement was designed to create a series of internal ‘streets in the sky’, running the length of each floor, directly inspired by Le Corbusier’s principles for Unite d’Habitation. There will be a 24-hour concierge service.
New windows are triple-glazed and have been treated to reduce solar gain. Balconies are lined with concrete tiling and original béton brut planters, with views west towards Canary Wharf and the City, or east towards Victoria Docks.
Ab Rogers set up his eponymous design studio in 2004, combing a detail and material-orientated approach to the design of interiors and architecture. Bold colour, simple forms and a commitment to space, light and innovative materials are a fundamental component of the studio’s work, across global retail, residential and exhibition projects.
Balfron Tower is located in Poplar an East London neighbourhood bordering the shoreline of the Thames. The area has undergone substantial redevelopment in recent years and is home to Poplar Baths, a wonderful Grade ii-listed public bath house built in 1933. The baths were entirely restored and reopened to the public in 2016. Chrisp Street Market was designed by Frederick Gibberd as part of the Festival of Britain in 1951 and is home to many local amenities. The market is the centre of the local community and the subject of a recently approved major regeneration project which will bring a new cinema, green space, supermarket, restaurants and cafes to the area, whilst protecting the continued presence of the current market traders. The recently opened Poplar Union is a thriving arts hub which has recently seen the arrival of E5 Bakehouse’s coffee roasting operation, E5 Roasthouse.
The closest stations are All Saints which runs DLR services into Canary Wharf and connects at Bank for London Underground services citywide.
Lease Length: Approx. 999 years
Service Charge: Approx. £4.99 per sq ft per annum
Ground Rent: Approx. £250 - £400 per annum, depending on number of bedrooms