The Glass Building in Jamestown Road

This site was the old Camden Council Salt Store (No 2 on page 186) on the corner of Jamestown Road and Arlington Road, adjoining Arlington House. The latter is the huge brick building, in the picture and on page 197. It was one of the great acts of Victorian social charity, put up at the end of the last century to house single men who had come to Camden Town to seek work, but had nowhere to live. This vast block of individual rooms, to be let by the week, was built at his private expense by Montague Corry, Disraeli’s private secretary.  Lord Rowton, as he became, built six such buildings and this is the last one remaining.  The mosaic over the doorway, a much later addition, shows the respect and affection in which it was held.1  The new Glass Building next door will be a contrast in every way.

The  design of the new Glass House is based on a series of interlocking drum forms, which create a series of curved bays. Each apartment  occupies one 8 metre wide bay.  The drums are of varying heights so that from the street outside, some of them are seen as much larger segments of a complete circle, both at street level (by the main entrance) and on the upper floors. The geometry of the bays will make the entrances visible from oblique angles up and down the street.

All facades are of slightly tinted glass set in thin steel frames, creating an effect of lightness. The basement and ground floor cover almost the full site, while the apartments above follow the street frontage in an L shape.  Behind the flats, in the corner of the L, is a landscaped garden at first floor level, with Arlington House forming the third side.  The garden is an amenity and also provides access to some of the flats, so there will be a certain amount of movement here.  The sectional view shows how the garden has been landscaped as a verdant cliff between Arlington House and the new building, dividing their two worlds.


The Glass House from Jamestown Road, with Arlington House on the right

Image by Model Work, Blackrock, Ireland


This is what happened to site 2


Plan at First Floor Level Showing Planting, Jamestown Road




Footnotes

  1. Camden Town, by David Thomson, pp.122-6. Richard Farrant, ‘Lord Rowton and Rowton Houses’, Cornhill Magazine vol 89, pp. 835-44. 1904.
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